Jumaat, 18 April 2008

Brains and Bits (part deux)

Einstein 's Brain, Watson's Genome

follow up from John Hawks: Watson's DNA

home :: topics :: humor :: quotes :: rosalind-franklin-genome-watson-2008

The teaser to this post on Science Blog:

The next generation of genome sequencing has been published using the DNA of James Watson. I'll bet they used Rosalind Franklin's DNA as a test drive and didn't tell us.

(DD: ahaks! Good one JH! Watson & Crick discovered the geometrical structure of DNA, but not without Franklin's research)

Why do humans have big brains?

GEOFFREY MILLER is a man with a theory that, if true, will change the way people think about themselves. His idea is that the human brain is the anthropoid equivalent of the peacock's tail. In other words, it is an organ designed to attract the opposite sex. Of course, brains have many other functions, and the human brain shares those with the brains of other animals. But Dr Miller, who works at the University of New Mexico, thinks that mental processes which are uniquely human, such as language and the ability to make complicated artefacts, evolved originally for sexual display.

One important difference between peacocks' tails and human minds, of course, is that the peahen's accoutrement is a drab affair. No one could say the same of the human female psyche. That, Dr Miller believes, is because people, unlike peafowl, bring up their offspring in families where both sexes are involved in parenting. It thus behoves a man to be as careful about choosing his wife as a woman is about choosing her husband.

Both sexes, therefore, have reason to show off. But men and women will have different criteria for making their choices, and so the sexual-display sides of their minds may differ in detail.

Testing this hypothesis will be a long haul...
[Economist, Aug. 2007]

(DD: Perhaps, but only if specific nutrients are present in the diet such as Iodine, Selenium, Omega 3 oils, etc. Else, cretinism, hypothyroidism, goitres occur.)

Brain scaling: “what rules differ across orders of mammals, and thus might account for phylogenetic variance across groups?” After doing some calculations, they found that if the same cellular scaling rules for rodents applied to primate brains, “a brain comparable to ours, with approximately 100 billion neurons, would weigh >45 kg and belong to a body of 109 tons, about the mass of the heaviest living mammal, the blue whale!” [Evo Fresno]

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