MI weekly selection #74
Turtles more closely related to crocodiles and birds than snakes and lizards
The murky evolutionary history of the turtle has been made a little clearer by researchers using new microRNA data which link the shelled reptiles more closely with birds and crocodiles than to lizards and snakes.
Universe’s evolution recreated in computer simulation
A computer simulation of the evolution of the universe has been created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the findings help to support the standard model of cosmology. The computer model charts the evolution of visible and dark matter about 12 million years after the Big Bang. The simulation needed more than 8,000 processors and several months to be completed. Researchers used improved algorithms and calculations from a variety of physics to create the simulation, which is representative of the complete universe but detailed enough to show individual galaxies.
New letters added to DNA alphabet
New letters have been added to DNA’s genetic alphabet, which may lead to artificial organisms that can generate medicines and other products that the natural genetic code can’t produce. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute chemically treated a pair of new nucleotides dubbed X and Y, adding to those naturally produced, called A, C, G and T, which form the basis for all life on Earth.
Mother’s environment at time of conception affects baby’s DNA
The environmental and seasonal experiences of a pregnant mother, especially what she eats, can have an effect on her baby’s DNA, according to a study published in Nature Communications. The study looked at babies born in Gambia and what the mother’s environment was at the time of conception, finding that a child’s genes were profoundly affected throughout life. For instance, babies conceived during rainy season, when vegetables are readily available, had different genetic tags than those of babies conceived during dry season, when nutrients are more scarce.
Are computer simulations a proper way to prove?
Computer simulation is increasingly being used as a third method to establish scientific truth, alongside theory and experimentation.