A woman has recently told her story of incredibly becoming pregnant while she was already pregnant, resulting in her giving birth to twins who were conceived by different parents and not at the same time.
Jessica Allen, a 31 year-old from California, agreed to become a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple and underwent in vitro fertilization in April 2016. She was paid $30,000 for doing so, according to The New York Post. California is one of the few states in the United States where you can pay someone to be a surrogate mother.
In sixth week of pregnancy, Allen was told she was carrying twins after a routine ultrasound. Her payment was increased by $5,000 for carrying the second child as the doctors assumed she had become pregnant with twins.
In December 2016 she gave birth to two boys, and one month later received a photo of the two boys from the Chinese couple with a message saying: “They are not the same, right? Have you thought about why they are different?”
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Jessica told ABC News. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.”
Subsequent DNA tests confirmed her suspicion that they weren’t twins. It showed that one of the babies was Allen’s biological child and the other was the Chinese couple’s child.
“I don’t know how to describe it… we were floored,” added Jessica. “We were like, how did this happen?”
It happened due to the extremely rare phenomenon known as “superfetation”. In most cases, when a woman becomes pregnant they release hormones to stop ovulation. But in some rare cases the woman’s body continues to ovulate, releasing an egg that can become fertilized. This is what happened to Allen, with the new egg becoming fertilized by her partner. Supferfetation is so rare in humans that scientists know very little about it.
Fortunately, both children are now well and healthy. After a harrowing and expensive legal process, Alllen and her partner now have custody of their son and have renamed him Malachi.
Allen doesn’t have any regrets about the process: “I don’t regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare.”
Human consciousness is perhaps one of the most complicated puzzles that scientists have been struggling to put together for ages. Even though we’ve advanced an incredible amount in science, we still have yet to get a grasp on it. But believe it or not, scientists may have pinpointed the physical origins of human consciousness.
There are three regions that are coming out as crucial to consciousness. A team of researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre at Harvard Medical School have been working hard to pin it down.
Michael Fox, a lead researcher, said, “For the first time, we have found a connection between the brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involved in awareness, two prerequisites for consciousness.” He went on to say, “A lot of pieces of evidence all came together to point to this network playing a role in human consciousness.”
Science says that consciousness is made up of arousal and awareness. It has already been shown that arousal is normally regulated by the brainstem or the portion of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord. It helps us sleep and wake up using our breathing and heart rate. Awareness hasn’t been as easy to pin down.
For quite a while, scientists thought that it might lay somewhere within the outer layer of the brain known as the cortex. But much to their surprise, two cortex regions in the brain are appearing to work as a team in order to make up human consciousness.
But how did they figure this out?
Well, 36 patients in a hospital with brain lesions were studied. 12 of them were unconscious or in a coma and 24 of them were conscious. They were analyzed to figure out why some patients had stayed conscious while others were unconscious, though they had similar injuries.
The rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum is a small area of the brainstem and was found to be associated with unconsciousness. 10 our or 12 unconscious individuals had damage in this area of the brain where only 1 out of the 24 conscious patients did. This means that this portion of the brain is important when it comes to consciousness.
Researchers then looked at the connectome, also known as a brain map, to see all the various connections in our brains. Two specific areas were connected to the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum. One of them was located in the ventral anterior insula and the other in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. In previous studies, both these areas have been known to play some part in arousal and awareness, but never before had they been connected to the brainstem.
More studies were conducted, all with the same conclusions:
“This is the most relevant if we can use these networks as a target for brain stimulation for people with disorders of consciousness,” said Michael Fox. This study could eventually lead to new treatments for individuals who are in comas or those who have healthy brains and can’t regain consciousness.
“If we zero in on the regions and network involved, can we someday wake someone up who is in a persistent vegetative state? That’s the ultimate question.”
This research could lead to a whole new world of possibilities in medical science.
Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll be able to cure someone who’s been in a coma for years. But for now, this is the beginning of exciting new medical developments in science.
Over the last 15 years, the emergence of Big Data has been perhaps the single largest change in how business is done. It’s important for everyone to understand what it is and how it’s changing the world.
Early on, companies struggled to create the basic infrastructure that was needed to make Big Data a reality.
Now, the infrastructure is being put into place, the data is being collected and rapid changes to how society functions are on the way.
Here are 7 TED talks on big data that are required watching for anyone interested in how big data will have a vast impact o the future direction of technology and society.
1) Susan Etlinger: “What Do We Do With All This Big Data?”
The question of what exactly to do with data is a problem that has stood out for more than a decade now. Data are arriving at a greater velocity, and from a greater number of sources, than ever before. However, truly ‘operationalizing’ it at the corporate or individual level is still a challenging process. Even highly informed decision-makers can misunderstand data and apply their biases to it. Susan Etlinger, a leading data analyst with Altimeter Group, urges a reassessment of how we truly make meaning from data sets.
2) Kenneth Cukier: “Bigger Data is Better Data”
Now that the Big Data transformation is truly underway, data will always be growing — never shrinking. This places enormous responsibility upon data analysts, of course, but also opens the door to technological advances that were unthinkable as little as a decade ago. Beginning with the example of self-driving cars, Kenneth Cukier — Data Editor of the venerable Economist — connects the dots to understand how Big Data will drive continued technological change. The intersection between Big Data and machine learning may produce unexpected benefits.
3) David McCandless: “The Beauty of Data Visualization”
For data to be of value to ordinary individuals, it must be visualized in some form. When data are visualized effectively, it becomes easier to process and act on. Even the most complex data — such as that involving military spending — can be transmuted into a new format. This allows people to make more intuitive and effective decisions. But, as data journalist David McCandless shows, the benefits do not end there. By using the power of visualization, data can indeed become beautiful.
4) Jennifer Golbeck: “The Curly Fry Conundrum”
Billions of people all over the world spend time engaging in social media every day. During this time, they might do all kinds of things online they don’t think twice about. It can be likened to mindlessly eating curly fries. Through the power of Big Data however, businesses derive a tremendous amount of information from even the most innocuous online behavior. In this talk, computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck draws back the curtain to demonstrate the power of these data points.
5) Deb Roy: “The Birth of a Word”
Deb Roy is an MIT researcher who focuses on cognitive science, particularly big questions on how children learn languages. To bring his understanding to the next level— and develop new insights that might aid in language learning for machines — he recorded 90,000 hours of footage chronicling every aspect of his infant son’s life. This talk is the result of searching that footage, more than 3,750 days’ worth, and synthesizing his findings into less than 20 minutes.
6) Glenn Greenwald: “Why Privacy Matters”
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations on the scope of U.S. government surveillance, former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald became one of the most controversial figures in the mainstream media. This TED talk comes from Greenwald’s years of tireless work analyzing, commenting on and publicizing those revelations. In it, he advocates for the idea that privacy matters to everyone, even if you are not doing anything wrong.
7) Mallory Soldner: “Your Company’s Data Could Help World Hunger”
Business often focuses on the ways Big Data can be monetized. Cutting costs or improving sales are the end goals for the vast majority of commercial forays into Big Data. However, that data is so foundational to the people and experiences it describes, that it could be used for much greater purposes. Self-described ‘data activist’ Mallory Soldner puts this into perspective. Her talk shows how data collected by corporations can be applied to make powerful, lasting changes to long-standing humanitarian issues — often much more quickly than anyone would expect.
Data science is not about data alone, but about how we conceptualize data to make it an effective decision-making tool. Even experienced, educated data scientists must be careful not to take logical ‘shortcuts’ —actions that can make data seem intuitive while obscuring deeper and more significant meanings. This may become the central challenge of data science in coming years.
This article was inspired by a post on Rutgers University.
This is incredibly inspiring from Stephen Hawking.
Even though he usually speaks about physics and the forces that govern the Universe, he decided to turn his intelligence to help those in need.
At a packed lecture theater, he had these words to say to those who are suffering with depression:
“The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.
“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out…
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
“It matters that you don’t just give up.”
As a man who has overcome such incredible obstacles and lived such a brave and amazing life, this advice couldn’t come from a better place.
Originally published on The Power of Ideas.
Can you imagine the profound shift in how we understand the human condition if someone actually figures out how to reverse the aging process?
One researcher at Harvard believes he has struck upon the answer and claims to have found a way to halt the aging process in mice.
Dr. David Sinclair from Harvard Medical School says that he has found a molecule that can reverse aging in mice:
“They drink it and we see that within a week they start to run further. And then we look at their organs and those are rejuvenated as well.”
This is incredibly exciting and yet concerning at the same time. The short version of telling the story of the research is that we allegedly have a protein in our systems which when we’re young repairs any damage to our DNA.
But as we get older, a new kind of protein blocks this original one, resulting in damage to our DNA which gives us the characteristics of being old.
Dr. Sinclair believes he’s found a molecule which goes between these proteins, resulting in the DNA repair process working again.
At present, he’s only seen this process working in mice and much work needs to be undertaken to be able to apply these findings to humans.
Of course, if this was to happen, would you ever want to be immortal? Do you want to live for hundreds or even thousands of years?
What if you could reverse the effects of aging, but we still had diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease? We may be able to prolong our life but not our quality of life.
Even if we could address these concerns, the question remains whether you want to go on living or whether you’ll lose your zest for life over time.
Finally, the reality is that if this treatment is available it will first be used by the rich. Will we see a situation where the rich improve the quality of their genes before others, resulting in a a society not only unequal in opportunity but also in genetics?
There is a lot to consider in the development of medicine that can reverse the course of aging. What do you think of extending our lifespans to live forever? Let us know in the comments.