Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene
Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech. Researchers from MIT and several European universities have shown that the human version of a gene called Foxp2 makes it easier to transform new experiences into routine procedures. When they engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, the mice learned to run a maze much more quickly than normal mice. The findings suggest that Foxp2 may help humans with a key component of learning language — transforming experiences, such as hearing the word “glass” when we are shown a glass of water, into a nearly automatic association of that word with objects that look and function like glasses, says Ann Graybiel, an MIT Institute Professor, member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and a senior author of the study. “This really is an important brick in the wall saying that the form of the gene that allowed us to speak may have something to do with a special kind of learning, which takes us from having to make conscious associations in order to act to a nearly automatic-pilot way of acting based on the cues around us,” Graybiel says. Wolfgang Enard, a professor of anthropology and human genetics at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany, is also a senior author of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. The paper’s lead authors are Christiane Schreiweis, a former visiting graduate student at MIT, and Ulrich Bornschein of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. All animal species communicate with each other, but humans have a unique ability to generate and comprehend language. Foxp2 is one of several genes that scientists believe may have contributed to the development of these linguistic skills. The gene was first identified in a group of family members who had severe difficulties in speaking and understanding speech, and who were found to carry a mutated version of the Foxp2 gene. In 2009, Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and his team engineered mice to express the human form of the Foxp2 gene, which encodes a protein that differs from the mouse version by only two amino acids. His team found that these mice had longer dendrites — the slender extensions that neurons use to communicate with each other — in the striatum, a part of the brain implicated in habit formation. They were also better at forming new synapses, or connections between neurons. (via Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene — ScienceDaily)

Bill Nye the Science Guy asks parents not to raise creationist kids
The famous interview that led to the creationist debate

"Denial of evolution is unique to the United States," Nye says in the video. After praising the U.S. as the world’s most advanced technological society, he credits that ranking to "intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really."

Nye goes on to say that he asks those who don’t believe in evolution to explain to him why they feel that way, and that “your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution.”

He notes that explaining dinosaurs, radioactivity and other concepts is all linked to understanding and accepting evolutionary theory, and says that “if you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.”

His plea to parents comes with the hope that the children they’re raising will become “scientifically literate.”

"And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine," Nye says. "But don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can — we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

Nye also says that in a couple of centuries, the creationist viewpoint “just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.”

Nye has already helped raise at least one generation of scientists. The NASA team that helped the Curiosity rover land on Mars are big fans. In a recent question-and-answer session for Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” series, when the rover team was asked which educational or science-oriented TV shows influenced them as children, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” was called their “hands-down” favorite.

Naturally, his video sparked some heated debate in the YouTube comments.


Another had some fun with the concept, writing, “Why stop at creationism? There are plenty of highly unlikely science fields that we could be confusing our children with. I really want my children to learn about orgones, pherenology and crystal focusing energy. I really wish schools would consider pet sciences that confirm MY worldview.”

Credit: Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, TODAY

i was just sitting here listening to a noise and being like “idk what my cat is doing but it sounds illegal” and being too lazy to check it out but then the sounds were escalating so i decided to check it out and and my cat is unlocking the front windows 

Contest #109: Split Evolution


So this is something I haven’t really seen too much of in the pokemon fan community lately. For our next contest, we’ll be creating an alternate evolution for a pre-existing pokemon. Basically, we’ll be thinking up a new evolution for a pokemon that already evolves. (See the above pokemon for examples of what I mean.)

So next let’s go and decide what pokemon we’re going to evolve. For this contest, I want you to suggest pokemon that just have one more stage before reaching their final evolved form. However, please don’t suggest anything that already has multiple evolved forms, (so no Eevee for this one.)

What pokemon would you like to give an alternate evolution to?

Watch on

I thought it was an old tire.

from Wikipedia: “The siphonophores, are an order of the Hydrozoa, a class of marine animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria. Although a siphonophore appears to be a single organism, each specimen is actually a colony composed of many individual animals. Most colonies are long, thin, transparent pelagic floaters. Some siphonophores superficially resemble jellyfish. The best known species is the dangerous Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis). […] Siphonophores are of special scientific interest because they are composed of medusoid and polypoid zooids that are morphologically and functionally specialized. Each zooid is an individual, but their integration with each other is so strong, the colony attains the character of one large organism. Indeed, most of the zooids are so specialized, they lack the ability to survive on their own. This is somewhat analogous to the construction and function of multicellular organisms; because multicellular organisms have cells which, like zooids, are specialized and interdependent, siphonophores may provide clues regarding their evolution.

Personal note: I am going to admit I had no idea a thing like this actually existed. I am given to thinking about things like the courses evolution might take in certain situation, and one of these courses I imagined would be several distinct organisms coming together in very strong symbiosis to create a colony like this. But I had no idea it’d actually happened. I am not surprised that it has, however.

There is very little, next to nothing, that we can think of, that the Universe hasn’t already created. And perfected.

greendragon-threebroomsticks you or someone you know might like this.

Follow Forever!!! || 1000 followers!

So I have decided to do another follow forever to celebrate getting to 1000 followers :) Of course, this isn’t everyone because I would never have the time to list everyone but here are some of the few.

Special mentions:

callmebanshee / drleebishopI cannot describe how much I love this mun, like they are one of the most amazing people to talk to, and I know I can always go and talk to them, or discuss possible threads. They’re brilliant as both Sean and Riley and they are my baby, I love them

reigninghavok -   Although I haven’t talked to them much lately, I also cannot express how much I love this mun and how amazingly they play Alex. They are just perf and you should all go and follow them

animus-lectione-professor -  I have two threads with this Charles and they are amazing. I can always message them if there’s something I need to clarify and I am in love with our threads. Like seriously.

salvation-inkMy baby Erik. Always willing to discuss and plot, and they’ve even indulged slightly more unusual ideas with me. Amazing mun and muse and I just love them

wandamaxxmoffOne of my favourite Wandas, although I have many, and Pietro just adores his sister. Amazing mun who is always willing to discuss plots and is just so sweet

axesandaddictionsPerhaps more of a personal one, but this mun is my best friend and she is amazing at rping. It’s not an overly well known character, I know, but don’t let that put you off, because it is brilliant. You should all go and follow

Other amazing people:

gonowandspeedwell , herrxdoktor , mischiefxchaos , erik-lehnshxrr , regnumverus , metalkinetica , the-dread-pirate-bluetail , evolutionleapsforward , keytoourevolution , scottclops , cerebrocharles , cykex , ask-miss-mystique , wandawitch , scarletdyed , mxgda , magnetisedcatharsis , bringinghavok , cryptyx , multimusemadness , magnxto , magnxtokinesis , marching-to-the-sound-of-iron , hurtandharmony , eriklehnshermetalmutant , redshadesofsummers , notabigfanofviolence

Like I said before, I love all you people and you’re all amazing, these are just a fraction of the people.