Artery Evolution

Recently, it has been found that, due to evolution, children are now being born with larger heads, with more babies now being delivered through C-section. Similarly, it has been discovered that humans are now evolving a new artery.

When a child is in the womb there is an artery called the median artery which is continuously transporting blood from the heart to the hands of the child. However after birth, usually this artery is replaced by two other arteries and this one disappears.

Now, by comparing ourselves to humans in the 18th century, there are more people today that still retain their media artery. This could be a way of saying that evolution is still taking place within the human body.

The author of this discovery, Maciej Henneberg, a specialist in anatomy at the University of Adelaide, says that this is an indicator that biological evolution is still ongoing within humans. If we were to quantify this, the researchers found, through cadavers and other means, that in the 1800s only around 10 percent of the total population retained the artery. However, when they studied people from the late 20th century, they found that around 30 percent of the people retained the artery. Through these numbers, researchers have concluded that this is the fastest way the human race has ever evolved in the past 250 years.

They also believe that if the trend were to continue, which generally should considering the principles of evolution, then the median artery which is right now an exception will become a norm and those with no median artery will become an exception. Even though this is a fascinating concept, it could have painful consequences as those with a median artery are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be extremely painful.

The researchers think that change has been genetic due to maternal health issues or possibly due to the mutation of genes within humans. They think that by the year 2100 the median artery should become a norm rather than the exception that it is today.

Whether this would be a positive change or a negative change it cannot be said, however, this does show us proof of how fast human evolution has been taking place and how amazing the concept of evolution truly is.

Micro-plastics in Humans

When plastic was converted into a form that could be beneficial to humans, we all thought it was a great step forward. Plastic solved many different issues that we faced, from packaging, containers and much more, revolutionizing every single industry. However, what we did not count on was the long-term impact it would have on us as humans.

For years now, scientists have been warning us about climate change and the impact of greenhouse gases as well as the fact that plastic does not degrade. However, we did not listen and kept on creating more and more products using more and more plastic. Eventually, it has come to a point where micro-plastic are now evident within human bodies.

A group of researchers who have been studying plastics and the impact they have on the human body, found nano-plastics in all 47 samples they tested. These samples included various human organs such as the kidneys, lungs, spleen, and more.

In the long term, plastics have become more of a threat to us than a benefit because of the negative environmental impact they have created. Scientists predict that if things keep going the way they have, chances are that Earth will become uninhabitable very soon.

In the samples tested through a mass spectrometer, they found traces of polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polyethylene (PE) which are all commonly used plastic products in our daily lives. Bisphenol A (BPA) was also found within the samples, which is a common ingredient within food packaging.

Humans, however, are not the first to be found with plastic in their bodies. They have already been discovered in the sea life and seafood we eat. They have even been found in the deepest parts of our oceans.

The research has been building upon previous studies which had already demonstrated that in Germany, 97% of the blood and urine samples which were collected from 2500 children showed traces of plastic in them. At least 17 contained toxic levels of plastic products or byproducts. Another study also showed similar results, in which human stools were tested. It was found there were 20 particles of plastic to every 10 grams of human stool.

The research did take note of the donor’s history and background. This then will help them recognize through the lifestyle they live, what the route and cause of this plastic coming into the human body is and how we might be able to avoid it.

Researchers are unsure of the actual impact plastic can have on human health, but they do not seem optimistic.

Population Decline

Contrary to the widespread perception of overpopulation that will in turn lead to the exhaustion of the earth’s already scarce resources, the recent statistics show otherwise. In recent years, there has been a shift in the number of babies people are having and the rate is only decreasing. With education and awareness and also the transition of more women now entering the workforce prolonging their career paths paired with the increase use of contraception and a drop in fertility rates, the natural population is witnessing a steady decline. By 2040, some major nations like Italy and Japan are expected to witness a decline in population by half.

A population decline might seem like good news as it will reduce the negative impact on the environment and improve the division of the scarce resources among the available population, but there are several aspects that are a downside to it as well. For instance, with fewer younger people and a large number of older, the economic policies will have to be rethought. With fewer working age people, it will likely cause a negative impact on the overall GDP. This could result in a major concern for many nations as they will have to come up with well devised policies to counter these rising issues and changes in the population. The major challenge will be the huge burden of the increased need for healthcare and social support systems for the aging population.

The decline is nearer than we think, so it is vital for nations to start preparing now, before the situation actually proves to be a major problem. With the increase in aged people, it will be essential for nations to focus on increasing and improving healthcare facilities and hospitals as well as social support. The demographic change that will occur requires a lot of consideration. Will people be expected to work past their retirement age? Who will take care of all the old people? Will people just keep on working until they die? All these questions and more will have to be answered to ensure that this shift in the population structure is countered intelligently.

However, it is still unclear how the world will adapt to this major change. Overpopulation and increasing growth has always been a major problem but a shrinking population will also have an extremely harsh impact on humanity and whether or not we will prosper.

Hand Sanitizer Made by Prisoners

As the Corona Virus takes over the world, there is one way to battle it. It is by washing our hands regularly and using sanitizer to kill bacteria. This has, however, led to shortages of sanitizers all over the country and people have started to overstock items. As officials have ordered social isolation, people have begun to stock up on their supplies. However, some have gone so overboard that they have taken months worth of supplies including hand sanitizers. Because of this shortage the Governor of New York, Andrew M Cuomo, decided to use prison inmates to urgently produce more sanitizers.

His plan to use the prisoners was met with protest, however, because of the situation the world currently finds itself in, he has decided to proceed with his original idea. He unveiled the sanitizer made by Corcraft, a prison-based product company, last week, and it will be displayed in every store and supermarket across the country. He did warn online retailers, however, to not use the sanitizer for their own benefit or sell it overpriced because of the high demand.

He even believes that the product is better those currently on the market because of the high alcohol content, meaning it works more efficiently, and the better fragrances it comes with. He also emphasized that it was cheaper to make at just $6.10 per gallon.

Soon after his sales pitch he was criticized heavily by lawmakers and criminal justice reform groups. Some believed that prisoners should be given minimum wage like the rest if they are being relied upon in such a health crisis. In New York, inmates are often paid up to 60 cents an hour, which is way below minimum wage. This is why last year a bill was introduced to make the minimum wage for prisoners 3 dollars per hour.

Another thing that concerned people is that even though these prisoners might be making the sanitizer, they will not be able to use it because of the alcohol content within it which is forbidden in prison, as well as being threatened with solitary confinement if they refuse to work.

However, Corcraft, the prison-based company responsible for the manufacturing of the sanitizer, claims that job training and learning new skills are part of prison life and an essential skill for their development, helping them get back on their feet and giving them a way to earn.

Extending Lifespans

Aging is a subject that effects everyone and almost everyone in the modern world is busy finding effective and harmless ways to slow it down. Scientists have recently made an incredible step forward in their experiments by extending the life span of worms. According to a study published in July in the journal Cell Reports, a team of international researchers have made it possible for a worm, that lives typically for three or four weeks only, to live five times longer than his expected life-time. This is similar to a human being living 400 years. Scientists are confident that some additional research can turn this study into reality in near future.

How will this be done?

Molecules in a cell act as the pathway to carry various cellular functions. One molecule receives a signal to do something then transfers that signal to another molecule. The other molecule transfers the message to the next one and so on until the signal or message is acted upon. As the field of biology is very wide, researchers found a link between the insulin signalling pathway and the aging signalling pathway.

All the experimenting was done on a worm. When scientists changed the first pathway, the life span of the worm doubled, but by altering the second pathway the life span increased by about thirty percent. So, logically it was concluded that by changing both the pathways the average life span can be increased by about 130 percent.

However, the scientists argued that doing this should actually increase the life span by about 500 percent. To support this statement Jarod Rollins of the MDI Biological Laboratory said in a press release “…the synergistic extension is really wild, the effect is not one plus one equals two, it is one plus one equals five. Our findings demonstrate that nothing in nature exists in a vacuum; in order to develop the most effective anti-aging treatments we have to look at the longevity networks rather than individual pathways…”

These findings showed that aging is not simply the result of one specific gene or pathway acting on its own, but rather a union of networks all working together for the long term. This will certainly help explain why no single gene or pathway has been found that can provide longer life for worms, humans, or any other animal.

Although worms are not like humans, they do share many similar cellular pathways with us. So, scientists have now agreed that the process used to extend the lifespan of worms could also be applied to human beings.

Despite all efforts, the manner of interaction between pathways has not been found yet. The president of MDI Biological Laboratory Hermann Haller in a press release said “… by helping to characterize these interactions, our scientists are paving the way for much needed therapies to increase a healthy lifespan for a rapidly aging population…”

Humans Produce More CO2 Than Volcanoes

Every year, humanity releases 100 times more carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere than all the volcanoes on the planet together. This is one of the key findings of a study of carbon stocks in the world that the Deep Carbon Observatory has conducted over the past decade. According to Newsweek, scientists have estimated that there are 1.85 billion gigatons of carbon on Earth. It exists in various forms in soil, in gases and in liquids. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans accounts for 1% of the total matter reserves, that is 43,500 gigatons.

“Carbon, the basis of all living forms and an important source of energy for humanity, is moving across the planet from the mantle to the atmosphere. To maintain a stable future, it is imperative that we understand the full carbon cycle”, said Marie Edmondson of the University of Cambridge, who participated in the DCO program.

One of the mechanisms how carbon enters the Earth’s atmosphere is provided by volcanoes. Magma contains dissolved gases, including carbon dioxide. When a volcano erupts, these substances enter the atmosphere.

The DCO team found that every year, due to the activities of people, 40-100 times more carbon dioxide rises into the air than all the volcanoes on the planet. According to scientists, volcanoes and other magmatic processes spew about 300-400 million tons of carbon dioxide. The publication recalls that mass extinctions are associated with the eruption of volcanoes on Earth, in particular the one that happened 252 million years ago. Then 96% of marine species on the planet died.

Atmospheric CO2 exceeded 415 parts per million for the first time in history. Specifically, it has reached 415.26 parts per million according to the records. Remember that the consensus among experts puts the “safe” limit at 350 ppm.

However, as usual when we talk about climate change, the problem is not the concentration, but the trend. To get an idea, when scientists started recording in 1959, the figures were at 315 ppm and most of the growth has occurred in recent years. According to the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), three of the four largest increases in atmospheric CO2 have occurred in the last four years.

Although, in a way, we are getting used to this type of news, put in perspective the figures give vertigo. As Eric Holthaus explained, we humans have never known a world like this. We have to go back many years in time to find similar CO2 concentrations: about three million years according to the most precise models.

And as the World Meteorological Organization pointed out at the end of 2018, “there are no indications of investment in this trend, which is triggering long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and a greater number of phenomena extreme weather”.

Therefore, it is much better understood how it is possible that the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity (IPBES) stated that more than one million species were at risk of extinction due to pollution and climate change.