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Huge Study Conclusively Debunks the “Gay Gene” Myth

Complicated Story

The notion of a so-called gay gene, or a single genetic marker that determines a person’s sexual orientation, got tossed out the window by a massive new study.

While scientists still expect sexual orientation to at least partially be determined by genetics, those not-yet-understood factors are far more complex than a single genetic on/off switch, according to Live Science. The notion of a “gay gene” dates back to a single 1993 experiment that was never replicated, and now for the first time, conclusive research can put the theory to rest.

Numbers Game

The new experiment, published Friday in the journal Science, succeeded by virtue of its sheer scale. Twenty doctors from 21 research institutions collaborated with the genetic testing company 23andMe’s research team to analyze the genomes of 493,001 participants from the U.S. and Europe. The paper concluded that sexual orientation is linked with a large number of genes and is more likely to exist on a spectrum than a binary.

“To give you a sense of the scale of the data, this is approximately 100-times-fold bigger than previous studies on this topic,” Andrea Ganna, the Harvard scientist who oversaw the project, told Live Science.

Previous experiments were too small to make decisive conclusions. They were also limited by the difficulty of recruiting homosexual participants, Live Science reports, given that same-sex relationships are illegal in many parts of the world.

READ MORE: The ‘Gay Gene’ Is a Total Myth, Massive Study Concludes [Live Science]

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The witcher’s potion. What is known about the mutagenicity of ‘healing’ herbs

In the popular witcher saga, boys go through trials, gaining inhuman strength, magical abilities, and longevity. A major role in this is played by herbs, supposedly changing the metabolism and basic systems of the body.

From a scientific point of view, phytotherapy does not cause such radical mutations, but to get poisoning and even a tumor is quite real.
Herbal medicine has been known since time immemorial, when classical medicine was in its infancy. And now many are convinced that the infusions of herbs, different types of tea, plant extracts benefit more than tablets, because it contains only natural ingredients. It is widely believed that herbs are environmentally friendly raw materials, they have a mild effect and are safe for the body. However, we are dealing with a myth that has no scientific evidence.

Unlike drugs manufactured by industry, plants contain hundreds of chemicals, each of which may have a biologically active effect. Homemade herbal preparations or those purchased as dietary supplements are not standardized, not cleaned, often have not passed laboratory and clinical trials, and therefore it is not known how they act on the body, are combined with other medicines, do they give side effects, in which doses are safe, and in which are toxic.

Scientists from India in 2017 described such a case. A 73-year-old man came to one of the hospitals with complaints of pain in the lower abdomen and throughout the body, fatigue, vomiting, and constipation. Eight months earlier, he had been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, and he was taking the herbal powder prescribed to him by an Ayurveda specialist, traditional Indian medicine.

Doctors examined the patient and prescribed conservative treatment, but vomiting did not pass. The next course also did not bring relief. Then they sent Ayurvedic powder for analysis and found there an increased content of lead – extremely toxic to humans. It was what caused the poisoning and inflammation of the intestines in the patient. It has been known for a long time that plants, especially roots, accumulate heavy metals and other toxic compounds well. Scientists use this feature to monitor soil pollution. The reverse side of plant susceptibility is the real risk of poisoning.

Weight Loss Risk

Since ancient times, plants of the genus Aristolochia have been used in obstetrics and treatment after snakebites. The acids of the same name contained in them have anti-inflammatory properties, and until recently, aristolochia extracts were part of the preparations for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, suppuration.

In the late 1980s, scientists discovered that aristolochic acids cause cancer in rodents. They are discontinued everywhere. However, in traditional medicine they are continued to be used.

In 1991, about one hundred cases of kidney damage due to prolonged use of Chinese traditional medicine for weight loss containing Aristolochia fangchi were revealed in Belgium. Several hundred people in different countries of Europe and Asia suffered from such “treatment”. It has now been proven in experiments on mammals that aristolochic acids cause mutations in genes, provoking the synthesis of abnormal proteins in cells. This phenomenon is called mutagenesis. In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer added these substances to the group of proven carcinogens, and in 2017, the Chinese authorities announced the names of 43 patented drugs and 24 plant species containing aristolochic acids.

Unexplored secrets of herbal medicine

According to rough estimates, about a third of people in the Western world use herbal and other folk remedies for colds, fever, inflammation, indigestion, constipation, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, diabetes, diseases of the central nervous system and even AIDS. In the United States, from 1993 to 2012, the number of herbal medicine products on the market increased tenfold. WHO recommends phytotherapy with proven efficacy in the medical insurance. All these trends, apparently, are associated with a strong belief in the healing properties of herbs that have been tested by folk medicine for thousands of years. At the same time, as American researchers note, the more widely the herbal medicine is used, the more cases of liver damage are associated with it. This is a slight increase in the level of liver enzymes and cirrhosis, and the accumulation of adipose tissue in the liver cells.

Now several natural components of herbs have been identified that have toxic and carcinogenic effects. For example, pyrrolisidine alkaloids are found in more than six thousand plants, including licorice, coltsfoot, and cucumber grass. In comfrey medicinal – 14 compounds of this type, considered genotoxic. The most famous are symphytin, 7-acetyllicopsin, 7-acetylintermedin and intermedin. These substances can cause mutations in genes, damage DNA, chromosomes, micronuclei. Many medicinal plants (Sassafras officinalis, Chinese cinnamon) and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, anise) contain compounds of the phenylpropanoid group. For some, for example, carcinogenic effects has been proven.

Among the huge variety of potentially useful plants, the genotoxic properties of plant compounds and extracts have been studied in a very small part, the authors of the review note. To many experiments there are questions. Most were made on cell cultures, in rare cases on animals, the doses at which negative properties are manifested have not always been studied, and the results are often contradictory. Little is investigated about the manifested qualities of the compounds in complex mixtures, and this is how they are most often used in folk medicine. But the very fact that compounds dangerous for DNA are found in plants used by humans, requires studying this category of traditional medicine more carefully.

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US military study the brains of gamers to create combat robots

The fact that the military will use video games for their needs, even a dozen or two years ago, could only be imagined in science fiction books or films.

However, the future was closer than we thought, and now the “shooters” are really used to train soldiers and even get real punishment for war crimes in the game. In the United States, they decided to go even further and study the brain of gamers in order to create artificial intelligence for combat robots based on these data.

According to UB, in the United States the Institute of Artificial Intelligence received a grant of $ 316 thousand for such experiments. “The idea is to ultimately create up to 250 air and ground robots working in very difficult situations. For example, during a sudden loss of visibility due to smoke or during an emergency.“ Robots must be able to communicate effectively and adapt to such challenges,” said Souma Chowdhury, Principal Investigator, Grant Assistant Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

To train combat vehicles, researchers intend to observe the activity of brain waves and the eye movement of gamers playing games in real time. For experiments, games such as StarCraft, Stellaris and Company of Heroes have been selected so far. In addition, a new strategy game was created specifically for the study, which become the main one in the experiment.

The developers will also observe how players make decisions about creating units and using resources to defeat the enemy.

“We don’t want the AI ​​system to simply mimic human behavior; we want the study to form a deeper understanding of what motivates a person to take certain actions. This is what will lead to a more advanced AI. ”

Studying the brain of gamers to create AI seems very plausible, although in the United States the military sometimes receive grants for completely insane for many but understandable research for us. Recently declassified documents showed that American intelligence agencies let millions go to study UFOs, parallel measurements and the possibility of teleportation. True, as a result of the experiments, it is not clear where only the money was teleported.

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Here’s what the world will look like in 2045: opinions of leading scientists

We know for sure that in 2045 the world will be completely different. It is likely that artificial intelligence will change many industries, unmanned aircraft will move from the military to the civilian market, and cars without a driver will make our trips much safer.

However, when it comes to technological advances and the digital world, it is better to ask experts about the future. So what will happen in 2045?

Household items controlled by thoughts

Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and director of the DARPA Biological Technology Bureau, believes that at the end of 2030 we will learn how to control things just by using our mind. “Imagine a world in which you could just use your thoughts to control your surroundings,” Sanchez said.

“Think about managing various aspects of your home just by using brain signals. Chat with your friends and family simply by using the neural activity of your brain. ”

The world of simple materials

There will be more to the future than just brain implants. According to Stephanie Tompkins, a geologist and director of the US Bureau of Defense Sciences, in the near future we will learn how to create incredibly durable and very light things. Imagine a skyscraper using materials that are as strong as steel but light as feathers.

Full voice control

“I think in 2045 we will find that we have a completely different relationship with the machines around us,” Pam Melroy said, an aerospace engineer and former astronaut. “I think that we will completely stop using tangible interfaces to control technology.

For example, in order to prepare for boarding an aircraft, pilots need to do the following: prepare navigation, exit cruise mode, start tuning throttles, put the gear into lower mode. All these steps must occur in the correct sequence.

In 2045, landing the aircraft will be as simple as viewing the news on social networks. In the near future, the pilot may simply say “Getting ready to land” and the computer will take a series of complex steps that must be completed to land. In addition, the algorithm will adapt to the current weather and the location of the landing strip. Full autopilot, even during landing.

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ VR vision

Ready Player One / Warner Bros

Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adaptation of Ready Player One takes place in 2045, the world plunges into chaos and is on the verge of collapse. People seek salvation in a vast universe of virtual reality, rushing into a dizzying, distorting reality. It’s an alternative, quite possible scenario.

Our world will be full of examples and surprises of this kind, when we can directly communicate our intentions and have results automatically obtained. What do you think of the world in 2045? Write your opinion in the comments!

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