Human evolution, University of Chicago researchers report, is still under way in what has become our most important organ: the brain. In two related papers, published in the September 9, 2005, issue of Science, they show that two genes linked to brain size are rapidly evolving in humans.
"Our studies indicate that the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution--the growth of brain size and complexity--is likely still going on," said lead researcher for both papers Bruce Lahn, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Meanwhile, our environment and the skills we need to survive in it are changing faster then we ever imagined. I would expect the human brain, which has done well by us so far, will continue to adapt to those changes."
Evolution, Lahn said, doesnt occur at the species level. Rather, some individuals first acquire a specific genetic mutation; and because that variant confers on those who bear it a greater likelihood of survival, it then spreads in the population. "Were seeing two examples of such a spread in progress," he said. "In each case, its a spread of a new genetic variant in a gene that controls brain size. This variant is clearly favored by natural selection."
Catherine Gianaro | EurekAlert!
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
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'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
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