I’d better get to work….
Workout notes yoga; I was very stiff and sloppy. But I was loser by the end.
Our teacher did this weird version of “child” pose where one actually lifts and rotates their whole butt in a circle; I admit that I enjoyed watching her do it more than I focused on doing it myself.
Then at Bradley: 1 mile of walk a lap, run a lap (8 laps to the mile), 1 mile of walk 1 lap, run 3 laps (felt better), 2 miles on the treadmill in 18:35 (9:45/8:50); 1 mile walk on the track. Total: 5 miles (3.25 running)
From the BBC:
This is also known as the Moron Magnet. Hey, though this is embarrassing (for the United States), it isn’t as if this is ruining the minds of anyone with potential.
I wonder if Sarah Palin should announce her intentions to run for President from here? It would be perfect.
We have moronic Democrats too.
Sarah Palin: hey Republicans, don’t whine too much. YOU created her; Ronald Reagan was the first step. He made it cool to be anti-intellectual.
My favorite teams
Sat, Oct 30 Duke 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 at East Carolina 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 13 Central Michigan 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 20 Arkansas State 3:30 pm —
Sat, Dec 11 Army 2:30 pm —
What I see: the biggest tests should be East Carolina and Army, though Duke usually plays Navy hard. I see perhaps one more loss along the way (either East Carolina or an upset) leading to a 9-3 finish.
Results: so far Navy is 8-3 with wins over East Carolina (big), Central Michigan (narrow) and Arkansas State and a loss to Duke. Army remains and Navy should be favored in that one.
Sat, Oct 30 Tulsa 2:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 13 (9) Utah 2:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 20 Army 7:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 27 at USC 8:00 pm
What I see: Army and Tulsa should be winnable games. But that is a SHOULD with this team. USC: it depends on how seriously the Trojans take the game. Utah: on paper this looks like a potentially ugly loss, BUT Utah plays TCU the week before and Air Force the week prior to that. They might go 2-2 the rest of the way to finish 6-6. But Utah is a potential upset.
I saw 6-6 or 7-5 and they got the latter. However I did NOT expect them to go 3-1 by losing to Tulsa and winning their last 3 nor did I expect them to have to play with their backup quarterback.
Sat, Oct 30 Purdue 12:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 at Michigan TBA —
Sat, Nov 13 Minnesota TBA —
Sat, Nov 20 at Northwestern 3:30 pm —
Fri, Dec 3 at Fresno State 10:15 pm —
What I see: every game is winnable. But Illinois is remarkably inconsistent; Michigan is good enough to hold serve at home and Northwestern ALWAYS plays Illinois hard (this year, in Wrigly Field). Fresno State is 5-2 right now and might see this as their bowl game. And yes, Illinois is plenty capable of playing down to their opposition. I see them going 3-2 the rest of the way and finishing 7-5.
Right now Illinois is 6-5 with Fresno State (still a potential loss) left. I honesty didn’t anticipate the Northwestern blow-out (they lost their QB) nor the Minnesota loss.
Sat, Oct 30 Baylor 7:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 at Kansas State TBA —
Sat, Nov 13 (17) Oklahoma State TBA —
Sat, Nov 20 Florida Atlantic TBA —
Thu, Nov 25 Texas A&M 8:00 pm —
Texas is hard to read; they seem to play better on the road, away from their demanding fans. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are capable teams. Kansas State…beat UCLA. I see 2-3 more losses in a rough year though they are capable of running the table and winning the rest of their games. I’ll go with Them finishing 3-2 to go 7-5, though in this case, there is a very wide confidence interval.
Ok, I blew this one; I didn’t dream of them 1-4 only beating Florida Atlantic and getting blistered by Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. I didn’t accept how bad they were this year.
Note: I am NOT an Ohio State fan but my lunch buddy is so:
Sat, Oct 30 at Minnesota 8:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 13 Penn State TBA —
Sat, Nov 20 at (13) Iowa TBA —
Sat, Nov 27 Michigan TBA —
The roughest opponent is Iowa, who has to play Michigan state on October 30. Frankly, I see the Buckeyes running the table and finishing 11-1 and going to a BCS bowl…
I got this one right..but it wasn’t that hard. 🙂
The Currently Undefeated Teams
Sat, Oct 30 at USC 8:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 Washington TBA —
Sat, Nov 13 at California TBA —
Fri, Nov 26 (15) Arizona 7:00 pm —
Sat, Dec 4 at Oregon State TBA —
They have 3 high quality teams on their schedule; USC might be looking for some payback. Arizona is no push over and the Oregon State game is a rivalry game against a quality opponent. But the Quack Attack is hitting on all cylinders. Still that last game is a landmine and the Beavers played TCU and Boise State tough. But the Beavers might not have much left in the tank after battling Arizona State, Stanford and USC over the next few weeks. I say the Ducks run the table to finish undefeated.
So far I got this right, though there is a chance at an upset at Oregon State…the Beavers are wildly inconsistent and lost 38-0 to Stanford after routing USC the week before.
Sat, Oct 30 at (13) Iowa 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 Minnesota TBA —
Sat, Nov 20 Purdue TBA —
Sat, Nov 27 at Penn State TBA —
On paper, only the Hawkeyes appear to pose much of a challenge. But the Spartans didn’t exactly dominate mediocre Notre Dame and Northwestern teams. I see this catching up to them; I predict a loss to Iowa and an upset in their last two games. Still, 10-2 isn’t shabby.
Well, they lost to Iowa and had close calls against Purdue and Penn State but still won the games. They finished 11-1.
Sat, Oct 30 at UNLV 11:00 pm * Audio
Sat, Nov 6 at (9) Utah 3:30 pm * Audio
Sat, Nov 13 San Diego State 4:00 pm * Audio
Sat, Nov 27 at New Mexico 4:00 pm * Audio
There are two challenges; the biggest one will come from Utah. But SDS is 5-2 with a very narrow loss to Missouri (and a 3 point loss to BYU) marring the record; that is a potential “upset” special. Losing to Utah wouldn’t be an upset. I see the Frogs dropping one game to finish 11-1.
Nope; the Frogs has a scare against San Diego State but blew away everyone else. They are 12-0.
Sat, Oct 30 at Air Force 7:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 (4) TCU 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 13 at Notre Dame 2:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 20 at San Diego State 10:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 27 Brigham Young 3:30 pm —
Utah closes with 3 good teams and a traditional rival (BYU), and a team looking for redemption (ND). The Utes are good, but can’t afford an off day. I see them losing once to finish 11-1.
Close: they got whipped badly by TCU and Notre Dame and survived scares against Air Force, San Diego State and BYU. 10-2 is still pretty good.
Sat, Oct 30 at Mississippi 6:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 Chattanooga TBA —
Sat, Nov 13 Georgia TBA —
Fri, Nov 26 at (7) Alabama 2:30 pm —
A resurgent Georgia team and Alabama form the biggest obstacles. I see them losing once to go 11-1.
Nope; they came back from 24-0 down against Alabama and 21-7 against Georgia to go 12-0 and a date with South Carolina in the SEC championship game remains.
Sat, Oct 30 at (14) Nebraska 3:30 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 at Texas Tech TBA —
Sat, Nov 13 Kansas State TBA —
Sat, Nov 20 at Iowa State TBA —
Sat, Nov 27 at Kansas 12:30 pm
Nebraska is their biggest threat; can the Tigers get up for two games in a row? Texas Tech won’t roll over either. I see at least one loss; perhaps 2. I’ll call it 10-2 (two losses) the rest of the way.
I got this right…they got whipped by Nebraska and beat by Texas Tech but closed with 3 wins in a row.
Tue, Oct 26 Louisiana Tech 8:00 pm —
Sat, Nov 6 Hawaii 2:00 pm —
Fri, Nov 12 at Idaho 9:00 pm —
Fri, Nov 19 Fresno State 9:30 pm —
Fri, Nov 26 at Nevada 10:15 pm —
Sat, Dec 4 Utah State 3:00 pm —
The closing is tougher than it might appear; Nevada and Fresno State are decent teams and Utah State gave Oklahoma all it could handle. Hawaii has ambushed teams in the past. Nevertheless, the Broncos would well run the table and that is what I see.
A game against Utah State remains. But they are a missed field goal away from having run the table up to the last game (11-1 with the game against Utah State remaining).
So, my BCS prediction: Oregon and Boise State will finish undefeated. But Alabama (or Auburn) might be 12-1 and therefore clamor for a spot in the BCS championship.
The game I’d like to see would be Alabama vs. Oregon; could that Alabama defense shut down the Quack Attack?
Update; there is still some ball to be played (Auburn v. South Carolina and Oregon State v. Oregon) so we’ll see how this shakes out.
It looks as if I’ll get a TCU v. Wisconsin, Oregon or Auburn match up.
Workout Lynn took me to yoga class with Ms. Vickie. I was stiff throughout. Then I walked home via the dam and the goose loop (7 miles untimed).
Knee: still somewhat stiff; still have trouble getting it completely straight. Still warm to the touch at times.
Shoulder: achy though I can sleep without pain killers and have for some time. That is progress.
This article is about the types of discussions that atheists and believers get into. Ok, I disagree with the headline; many (most?) believers really aren’t interested in converting others or arguing. But there is a large subset of believers who DO frequently discuss/argue with atheists and this article is about them.
One comment: it appears that some of these believers appear to have a binary model; either THEY are right or the atheist is right; they don’t seem to consider the thousands of other religions that they reject.
Fox Nation publishes an article about President Obama that was printed in The Onion and their readers think that it is real. The Nation scrubs the article and writes no disclaimer.
This is one reason why I
think that Fox News Republicans are idiots am skeptical of the intellectual abilities of Fox News types.
I’ve had a decadent football watching weekend:
(photos from yahoo)
(photos from yahoo)
I watched the Cowboys-Saints game. The Saints raced to a 17-0 lead and I thought “same old, same old”.
But the Cowboys clawed their way back into it and actually were up 27-23 and driving. Then they threw a long pass which was run to the Saint 11, but a Saint defensive back stripped the receiver of the football (and the receiver was NOT being careless).
The Saints drove 88 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Still the Cowboys had a shot, and their desperation 59 yard field goal was just wide left.
Later, it was time for the Longhorns vs. the Aggies.
The Aggies were favored and drove the ball at first but missed a field goal. The Longhorns drew first blood 7-0 and had a chance to go up 10-0 but fumbled away a scoring opportunity.
Though it appeared that A&M took control 24-14; Texas got a field goal to cut it to 24-17 but couldn’t get closer.
Bottom line: Texas turned it over 4 times and this year, the Aggies have a better team.
I caught the Alabama-Auburn shootout.
For the record, I picked Auburn in the Yahoo College pick-em.
At first it looked as if I were wrong; Alabama raced out to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. But Alabama fumbled away two potential scores; one was on a run while the person was running in and the other was a fumble on a quarterback sack. That was to haunt the Tide.
It was 24-7 at the half; and in the second half Auburn dominated to pull within 24-21. An Alabama field goal made it 27-21 but in the 4’th quarter Auburn took the lead early and held on.
Then I caught a bit of the Boise State-Nevada game. I ended up tiring out and hitting the hay when Boise was up 24-7 in the 3’rd. But then:
Yep, Nevada came back and won the game in overtime 34-31, aided by a missed field goal at the end of regulation.
This morning, I got to see much of the Ohio State-Michigan slaughter: 37-7. This one was over early. But the Ohio State retro uniforms were very funky:
Currently, I am watching the Wisconsin-Northwestern train-wreck.
It is 49-17 at the HALF thanks to FIVE Northwestern turn-overs.
It ended 70-23; I didn’t bother with the second half.
I did pick up the LSU-Arkansas finish though; It ended 31-23 Razorbacks. Arkansas kicked a short field goal with 6:30 to go or so to get the lead to 31-20 and LSU answered with a touchdown with 2 minutes plus but missed the onside kick.
The key play came at the end of the first half when an ill advised play on the ball on a short pass lead to a long run after catch and an Arkansas touchdown.
Either they will play in the Rose Bowl (against Wisconsin) or in the National Championship game should Auburn or Oregon stumble.
Right now, I am watching Notre Dame vs. USC.
Basically neither offense did much; USC had a 3-0 lead via an interception at the Notre Dame 30. But then ND drove the ball 79 yards to score a touchdown with 2:31 left.
USC got a good kickoff return to their own 44 but stalled; they made a first down but then turned the ball over on downs failing on 4’th and 3 at the ND 38.
ND gets the ball with 44 seconds left and breaks a huge draw play to the USC 34. A quick pass gets ND to the 15; then there was a ball spike followed by a pass to the USC 8. Then there was a pass over the middle where the receiver was in the end zone but the ball appeared to be right at the goal line; because ND had no time outs there was no time to wait for a review; there was only time for a quick spike of the ball which put ND second and goal at the 1 foot line.
So ND had time for one quick pass to the left side; the receiver caught the ball at the left side with his feet in the air over the end zone but the ball just outside; as he was being pushed out of bounds the receiver extended the ball backwards over the goal line.
Touchdown, Irish…but they missed the extra point.
13-3 Irish at the half.
Yikes! ND throws an interception and USC gets the ball at the ND 20. ND holds; USC field goal makes it 13-6.
Next series: ND fumbles (quarterback sack) and USC gets it on the ND 2.
It takes USC 3 plays to get it to the 1 foot line where they score on 4’th down. 13-13 with 5:40 to go.
Still, ND has played horribly in the second half, but it is still tied.
Update: another ND interception gave USC the ball at the ND 38, but the defense held USC to a field goal; 16-13 Trojans with 6 minutes left.
But ND drives the ball 77 yards with running (one short pass play); now ND leads 20-16 with 2:17 to go. Now USC has the ball with 3 timeouts and are at their own 30.
USC drives the ball….and coverts a 4’th down.
But on one play, the ND player slipped on the pass coverage and the USC guy was wide open. But the wet ball was just slightly behind him and he couldn’t hang on.
Then ND intercepts the ball at the 1 and runs out the clock….ND wins. ND turns it over 4 times, USC once but had several key drops.
I love it….though to be honest these aren’t the old Trojans.
Here are some slaps at so-called science journalism:
Check out this cartoon about an article about a “journalist” interviewing a physicist about relativity theory. The punchline is hilarious.
Or, what about provocative magazine covers? Moral: never have a magazine cover that asks a question that has a one word answer.
I was getting ready to respond to this CNN article about, who else, Sarah Palin:
CNN) — It’s clear that we can’t go 24 hours without Sarah Palin saying something so stupid that it defies logic, but leave it to the Kim Kardashian of politics to find something wrong with first lady Michelle Obama’s effort to curb obesity in America’s kids.
In a radio interview on Wednesday with conservative talker Laura Ingraham, Palin took dead aim at the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative, which is all about getting children active and involved in exercise and healthy eating.
In the wacky world of Wasilla’s finest, Palin tries to cast the effort to fight obesity as part of Michelle Obama’s “different worldview.”
(note: clicking on the thumbnail takes you to the full sized poster, which you can buy from that retailer at that site)
But my next reaction was to say something snarky like “of course, being pro obese would be a hit with the tea party; haven’t you seen their rallies! And so I went searching for “fat teabaggers”.
My search brought me to an interesting and well written blog (by accident); there is a well written article about the phases of the tea party movement and another good, well researched article about how Reagan economics didn’t fare well; the blogger also points out that with time, the tax burden has shifted from corporations to individuals.
Back in May, 2001 I ran the Lake Geneva Marathon (hilly course); my time was 3:40:24. That is 8:24 a mile.
Today I ran the Toys For Tots 2 mile run (along the Peoria, Illinois parade route) in 17:02 (my watch). That is 8:31 a mile.
But there is a reality here: Since October 11, 2009, I’ve had a grand total of 39 runs:
Tried to rest my behind the knee area then:
5 in December of 2009 (all 1 to 1.1 miles)
9 in January (two of 2 miles, the rest less)
5 in February (2.2-2.5 miles each)
Stopped; the knee was getting sore.
Surgery in July.
September: 11 runs, 3 of 1 mile, 8 of 2 miles
October: 1 two mile run (focus on preparing for a hilly 30 mile trail walk)
November: 8 runs, six of 2 miles, 2 of 1 mile
Needless to say, I am (literally) hundreds of miles from being in running shape.
The race itself
I warmed up by doing run/walk on the treadmill in the Riverplex, stretching, then 7 laps of 2 run, 1 walk on the track then about a quarter mile walk to the race start.
Basically, I started the race near the back of the pack and stayed there; we ran through the parade route. Unfortunately, some people recognized me and yelled my name; I admit that I was a bit ashamed. 🙂
There were a couple of very slow “pre-military” formations and one very slow group of “young marines” running loosely together attempting to chant “gunge” slogans; they would have been a bit more convincing had they not been doing 9-10 minute miles. 🙂
Sure, there was some spandex but I was in no condition to chase it. I started off moderately and attempted to hold my pace. We started uphill, leveled off and then finished downhill to the river path. I didn’t have the confidence to push it at any point.
I can’t say that this was “pedal to the metal” but this wasn’t a deliberately slow jog either; I WAS trying. And yes, this was my fastest 2 miles in over 13 months.
I cooled down (the day was 23 F and sunny and breezy) by walking a mile. A couple of runners nodded sympathetically.
Then I went into the riverplex, changed shoes, and then did the following:
squats (no Smith Machine): 10 x 45, 10 x 135, 10 x 135, 10 x 155
Leg press: 20 x 180, 20 x 270, 10 x 360
extensions: 3 sets of 10; 2 sets on the free weight machine
curls: 3 sets; 10, 7, 10 on the free machine
glutes: 1 set of 10 each leg on the lift machine, then 1 more set of 10 with much more weight (150).
Upside: the knee didn’t hurt during the run (took a while to warm up though)
Downside: getting the bar comfortable on my shoulders is a problem with squats; I sometimes put it right on a sore spot on my bad shoulder.
Workout I overslept my yoga class. But I still made it in and did some running, walking and lifting:
Lifting: (upper body)
rotator cuff raises (front, side, angled) 10 x 5 lb.
curls: 3 sets of 20 with 15 pound dumbbells
military press: 30 x 30 pounds, 20 x 35 pounds (seated, with dumbbells)
lat pull downs: 15 x 125; 3 sets
rows: different sort of machine; 7 x 70 (each arm), 5 x 70, 15 x 45.
bench press: 30 x 35 pounds (dumbbells); one set; painful getting into position.
incline press: 15 x 95 barbell.
Sit ups: 10 sets of 10; used inclines 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 8, 7
Running 2 miles in 19:05; 10:18, 8:47. An 8:20 pace at the end felt like a sprint (treadmill)
Walking: 2 miles on the track; fast enough to pass and lap a slow jogger.
I worked out at the public gym (as opposed to the university gym which was closed). Though there were other old goats and bats there, there were also some regulars and some spandex.
I’ve noticed that there are different types of spandex eye-candy which I will talk about here (photos: mostly from the blog Girls in Yoga Pants; the thumbnails link to the source at the blog or source):
The: not that tight but nice anyway:
Probably the best; and remember that sometimes women who wear these “almost tight” pants sometimes lean forward and stretch:
The: I am wearing a thong underneath to show all of the gluteal cheek!
Ok, I like these too;
Here is a more extreme example:
There is the tight but “smeared out” which can be fun:
(yes, I had a yoga teacher who wore spandex this thin)
And of course, there is the “not the perfect shape but PLENTY GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME”
We went to the Thanksgiving day brunch at Wildlife Prairie Park; my wife, her nephew, her daughter and grandson were also there.
The bartender was wearing very tight hip-huggers…I wonder if her tip jar was full. 🙂
Sandwalk talks more about the “science is cool” campaign:
This poster is from Rock Stars of Science. There are six people in the photo: one of them is a rock star (I’m told) and five of them are famous scientists (I’m told).
Is this a good way to promote science? Martin Robbins doesn’t think so: ‘Rockstars of Science’ should be ‘Scientists of Rock’.
I could be wrong. Maybe this is a good way of reaching out to people. Maybe GQ’s readers are getting out their dictionaries and picking through those descriptions, stopping occasionally to stare at the blurry, bearded interloper in the background of Bob’s photograph. And maybe those readers are now more inspired by science as a result. If so, I’d like to see some evidence of it – maybe a poll of readers?
But I still can’t help but feel that if you have to resort to rockstars make science cool, you’re really not very good at communicating science. Because science is way cooler than rock stars.
You won’t be surprised to learn that Chris Mooney likes this campaign and ERV doesn’t. Jerry Coyne doesn’t like it either. Does anyone notice a pattern here? … The one person who isn’t a scientist is the one who thinks he knows how to promote science.
I love it. But Larry Moran does have a sense of humor; check out his post about “how to protect yourself from wi-fi radiation”. It isn’t everyday that you see a middle aged biochemist in a tinfoil hat (thumbnail links to Dr. Moran’s post):
Thanksgiving: here is some thanks that physics problems in the large (macroscopic) can be solved without know much (or at all?) about the small (microscopic). Example: you can solve a motion problem using Newtonian mechanics without knowing what is going on at the quantum level…or one can do fluid mechanics without knowing about the Brownian motion of the molecules.
Is Schizophrenia caused by a retrovirus that most of us have immunity to? There is a mainstream conjecture that this is the case:
chizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but the person who becomes schizophrenic is sometimes recalled to have been different as a child or a toddler—more forgetful or shy or clumsy. Studies of family videos confirm this. Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent, but it is remarkably consistent, showing up in 250 studies. That same pattern is seen in people with bipolar disorder or multiple sclerosis.
“The birth-month effect is one of the most clearly established facts about schizophrenia,” says Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “It’s difficult to explain by genes, and it’s certainly difficult to explain by bad mothers.”
The facts of schizophrenia are so peculiar, in fact, that they have led Torrey and a growing number of other scientists to abandon the traditional explanations of the disease and embrace a startling alternative. Schizophrenia, they say, does not begin as a psychological disease. Schizophrenia begins with an infection.
The idea has sparked skepticism, but after decades of hunting, Torrey and his colleagues think they have finally found the infectious agent. You might call it an insanity virus. If Torrey is right, the culprit that triggers a lifetime of hallucinations—that tore apart the lives of writer Jack Kerouac, mathematician John Nash, and millions of others—is a virus that all of us carry in our bodies. “Some people laugh about the infection hypothesis,” says Urs Meyer, a neuroimmunologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “But the impact that it has on researchers is much, much, much more than it was five years ago. And my prediction would be that it will gain even more impact in the future.” […]
Perron learned from their failures. “I decided that I should not have an a priori idea of what I would find,” he says. Rather than looking for one virus, as others had done, he tried to detect any retrovirus, whether or not it was known to science. He extracted fluids from the spinal columns of MS patients and tested for an enzyme, called reverse transcriptase, that is carried by all retroviruses. Sure enough, Perron saw faint traces of retroviral activity. Soon he obtained fuzzy electron microscope images of the retrovirus itself.
His discovery was intriguing but far from conclusive. After confirming his find was not a fluke, Perron needed to sequence its genes. He moved to the National Center for Scientific Research in Lyon, France, where he labored days, nights, and weekends. He cultured countless cells from people with MS to grow enough of his mystery virus for sequencing. MS is an incurable disease, so Perron had to do his research in a Level 3 biohazard lab. Working in this airtight catacomb, he lived his life in masks, gloves, and disposable scrubs.
After eight years of research, Perron finally completed his retrovirus’s gene sequence. What he found on that day in 1997 no one could have predicted; it instantly explained why so many others had failed before him. We imagine viruses as mariners, sailing from person to person across oceans of saliva, snot, or semen—but Perron’s bug was a homebody. It lives permanently in the human body at the very deepest level: inside our DNA. After years slaving away in a biohazard lab, Perron realized that everyone already carried the virus that causes multiple sclerosis.
Other scientists had previously glimpsed Perron’s retrovirus without fully grasping its significance. In the 1970s biologists studying pregnant baboons were shocked as they looked at electron microscope images of the placenta. They saw spherical retroviruses oozing from the cells of seemingly healthy animals. They soon found the virus in healthy humans, too. So began a strange chapter in evolutionary biology. […]
Viruses like influenza or measles kill cells when they infect them. But when retroviruses like HIV infect a cell, they often let the cell live and splice their genes into its DNA. When the cell divides, both of its progeny carry the retrovirus’s genetic code in their DNA.
In the past few years, geneticists have pieced together an account of how Perron’s retrovirus entered our DNA. Sixty million years ago, a lemurlike animal—an early ancestor of humans and monkeys—contracted an infection. It may not have made the lemur ill, but the retrovirus spread into the animal’s testes (or perhaps its ovaries), and once there, it struck the jackpot: It slipped inside one of the rare germ line cells that produce sperm and eggs. When the lemur reproduced, that retrovirus rode into the next generation aboard the lucky sperm and then moved on from generation to generation, nestled in the DNA. “It’s a rare, random event,” says Robert Belshaw, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in England. “Over the last 100 million years, there have been only maybe 50 times when a retrovirus has gotten into our genome and proliferated.”
Read the whole article; it is fascinating.
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