Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man, BenBella Books
Summary: Cognitive scientist Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically "designed" to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we've evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech-regardless of language-is very clearly based on the sounds of nature. Even more fascinating, Changizi shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music-seemingly one of the most human of inventions-is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.
- Source: Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man, Mark Changizi, BenBella Books, 2011/08/02
Nest Inheritance Is the Missing Source of Direct Fitness in a Primitively Eusocial Insect, Science
Abstract: Animals that cooperate with nonrelatives represent a challenge to inclusive fitness theory, unless cooperative behavior is shown to provide direct fitness benefits. Inheritance of breeding resources could provide such benefits, but this route to cooperation has been little investigated in the social insects. We show that nest inheritance can explain the presence of unrelated helpers in a classic social insect model, the primitively eusocial wasp Polistes dominulus. We found that subordinate helpers produced more direct offspring than lone breeders, some while still subordinate but most after inheriting the dominant position. Thus, while indirect fitness obtained through helping relatives has been the dominant paradigm for understanding eusociality in insects, direct fitness is vital to explain cooperation in P. dominulus.
- Source: Nest Inheritance Is the Missing Source of Direct Fitness in a Primitively Eusocial Insect, Ellouise Leadbeater, Jonathan M. Carruthers, Jonathan P. Green, Neil S. Rosser, Jeremy Field, DOI: 10.1126/science.1205140, Science Vol. 333 no. 6044 pp. 874-876, 2011/08/12
The ten grand challenges of synthetic life, Systems and Synthetic Biology
Abstract: The construction of artificial life is one of the main scientific challenges of the Synthetic Biology era. Advances in DNA synthesis and a better understanding of regulatory processes make the goal of constructing the first artificial cell a realistic possibility. This would be both a fundamental scientific milestone and a starting point of a vast range of applications, from biofuel production to drug design. However, several major issues might hamper the objective of achieving an artificial cell. From the bottom-up to the selection-based strategies, this work encompasses the ten grand challenges synthetic biologists will have to be aware of in order to cope with the task of creating life in the lab.
- Source: The ten grand challenges of synthetic life, Manuel Porcar, Antoine Danchin, Victor de Lorenzo, Vitor A. dos Santos, Natalio Krasnogor, Steen Rasmussen and Andrés Moya, DOI: 10.1007/s11693-011-9084-5, Systems and Synthetic Biology, Online First, 2011/08/05