Does Alexandria’s Genesis exist?

Does Alexandria’s Genesis exist?

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Characteristics of Alexandria’s Genesis

For a while now there has been a picture circulating on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and other internet sites regarding a genetic mutation called Alexandria’s Genesis. Supposedly the characteristics of this mutations consist mainly of pro’s without the con’s (unless you think the whole purple eye thing is a con): you get purple eyes, people with this condition only have hair on their heads, long lifespan, high metabolism, and women with this condition do not menstruate. For about three seconds after reading this I thought: “now that’s cool, why wasn’t I born with this condition?” Before realising, that it’s just too good to be true.

The supposed origin of the myth dates back 1000 years

Supporters of this myth claim that Alexandria’s Genesis can be dated back to over a thousand years. The legend started in Egypt when a mysterious light flashed in the sky, and everyone who was outside at the moment it happened, developed pale skin and purple eyes. Eventually these people were said to have moved north, were they eventually disappeared.

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Alexandria’s Genesis is a fabrication of author Cameron Aubernon

Around the year 2000 author Cameron Aubernon was writing a Daria fan fiction and thought it would be fun for some of her characters to have a genetic mutation she called Alexandria’s Genesis. The characteristics of this mutation we have already listed above (purple eyes, no body hair, no menstruation yet still fertile, long lifespan, high metabolism), and as soon as Aubernon posted it online, they internet took over and it spread like wildfire. Since then Aubernon has explained and dispelled the myth on her blog.

Could Alexandria’s Genesis technically exist?

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the myth. Purple eyes would be technically possible through severe lack of eye pigmentation (e.g. albinism), but any eyes that would have this mutation would be extremely sensitive to sunlight, not what the original myth perpetrates. A lack of body hair could also be possible, but not as selective as with Alexandria’s Genesis. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome can result in a lack of body hair, but it only happens to women, and since women affected with this syndrome have no uteri, they are infertile. Another aspect of Alexandria’s Genesis debunked. The two other aspects of Alexandria’s Genesis – long lifespan and high metabolism – are also highly unlikely as anyone with such a high metabolism would have an extremely high body temperature that would not be medically possible, and a long lifespan that would result in people becoming on average 150 years old is also highly unlikely.

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All in all, though it’s a fun thing to imagine, people with Alexandria’s Genesis do not – at this time – exist. Yet who knows what the future will bring, mutations occur all the time. We are after all mutated from single-celled organisms to being the dominant form of reproductive life on this planet.

Source: sciencedump.com

747 Pilot Captures Breathtaking Pictures of Storms and Skies

747 Pilot Captures Breathtaking Pictures of Storms and Skies

When it comes to spectacular scenery, few people get a better view than airline pilots. But instead of keeping those beautiful panoramas to himself, 747 pilot Christiaan van Heijst take stunning photographs that he kindly shares with the rest of us stuck in economy.

“From an early age on I have found great joy in capturing the beauty of natural light in all its forms,” writes Heijst on his website. “Later on, I combined that with flying and a new passion emerged. Seeing the entire world in my job, I feel privileged to be in a position to capture many different parts of the planet through my camera and immortalize the beauty of the places I visit.” Shooting with a Nikon D800, the flying Dutchman captures beautiful pictures of thunderstorms, sunsets, full moons, and even the northern lights.

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More info: Christiaan van Heijst
via boredpanda.com

New Red Fluorescent Proteins Allow Scientists to Better ‘see’ What Memories Are Made Of

New Red Fluorescent Proteins Allow Scientists to Better ‘see’ What Memories Are Made Of

Researchers at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and Stanford University teamed up to develop a new molecular tag which allowed visualization of two signaling proteins’ activity in a single dendritic spine in real time.


An ongoing challenge for scientists working to understand the brain is being able to see all its parts. Researchers have spent centuries developing better imaging techniques to see beyond the abilities of our naked eyes. They’ve built microscopes that gather information down to the electron level. They’ve engineered fluorescent tags that make cells and structures of interest more visible. One of the most effective imaging techniques for neuroscientists has been the combination of FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) and FLIM (Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy). This duo gives scientists the power to view biochemical dynamics of proteins with high spatial and temporal accuracy, while also allowing them to calculate the minuscule distances between molecules in real time.

At the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), researchers in Ryohei Yasuda’s laboratory, such as postdoctoral researcher, Tal Laviv, Ph.D., have been working to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. The team has been using FRET-FLIM to study the activity of proteins in dendritic spines, protrusions that form off of neuronal branches, and make synaptic connections and communicate with other neurons. Dendritic spines are known to emerge, change shape, and even disappear over a lifetime, and these changes are considered the cellular basis for learning and memory. These imaging techniques were a key factor in helping the team elucidate some of the molecular mechanisms behind this type of plasticity.

Nonetheless, there is an important limitation in using these techniques to understand how multiple types of proteins and molecules interact in living samples. There is only one FRET donor tag (GFP) that will work within a FLIM protocol, so if researchers want to study two proteins, they’ll investigate “Protein A” in one set of experiments, following an additional set of experiments to examine “Protein B” activity. Following these experiments, the researchers will need to draw conclusions about how these two proteins interact based on these two sets of experiments. This not only increases the amount of time it takes to study multiple proteins, but also makes it more difficult to analyze how they interact in space and time. “For those types of systems,” explained Dr. Laviv, “it’s crucial to look at as many proteins as possible at the same time to correlate their activities.”

Researchers at Stanford University, from the research team of Dr. Michael Lin, which specializes in building protein based tools for molecular imaging, reached out to the Yasuda Lab at MPFI after they identified a new set of red fluorescent proteins, or RFPs, named CyRFPs. They suggested this new set of RFPs could be used in combination with GFP for simultaneous imaging.

To determine if this could work, the scientists tested the ability to visualize dendritic spine structure and function using CyRFP and a GFP-based calcium bio-sensor. Using this combination, they were able to monitor the structure and function of spines in real time, even in the brains of living animals. Finally, the team tweaked a variant of CyRFP, which now could be used as a fluorescent FRET donor a part of a FRET pair, named monomeric cyan-excitable red fluorescent protein (mCyRFP1). Scientists in the Yasuda Lab conducted a series of experiments to test the newly proposed FRET pair alongside a GFP bionsensor. The technique allowed them to view, for the first time, the activities of two signaling molecules within a single dendritic spine as the spine was undergoing synaptic plasticity. A description of this new technique was published on October 31, 2016 in Nature Methods.

Dr. Laviv explains that the new technique will increase both accuracy and efficiency of FRET-FLIM imaging experiments and could potentially increase our understanding of how learning and memory ultimately alters the structure and function of dendritic spines.


This work was supported by grants from Human Frontiers Science Program, NSF Graduate Fellowship, a Siebel Scholar Award, National Institute of Health grants R01MH080047, 1DP1NS096787, 1U01NS090600 and P50GM107615, a Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award for Medical Scientists, a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.

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Materials provided by MAX PLANCK FLORIDA INSTITUTE FOR NEUROSCIENCE . Original written by Marla Paul. Note: Content may be edited for style and length

7 Bees Facing Extinction Added to Endangered Species List for First Time

7 Bees Facing Extinction Added to Endangered Species List for First Time

Cantankerous Yellow-faced Bee photographed in Hawai'i County, Hawaii. SteveMlodinow / Flickr

Cantankerous Yellow-faced Bee photographed in Hawai’i County, Hawaii. Steve Mlodinow / Flickr

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has added seven bee species to the endangered species list, a first for bees. Native to Hawaii, these yellow-faced bees are facing extinction due to habitat loss, wildfires and invasive species.

The tiny, solitary bees were once abundant in Hawaii, but surveys in the late 1990s found that many of its traditional sites had been urbanized or colonized by non-native plants. In March 2009, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation petitioned the USFWS to list these bee species as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“The USFWS decision is excellent news for these bees, but there is much work that needs to be done to ensure that Hawaii’s bees thrive,” wrote Matthew Shepherd, communications director for Xerces, in a blog post responding to the announcement.

Yellow-faced bees are the most important pollinators for many key trees and shrubs in Hawaii. They once populated the island from the coast up to 10,000 feet on Mauna Kea and Haleakalā. They get their name from yellow-to-white facial markings, and they are often mistaken for wasps.

According to Karl Magnacca, an entomologist with the O’ahu Army Natural Resources Program, the bees evolved in an isolated environment and were unprepared for the changes brought by humans. These included new plants, domestic animals such as cattle and goats, as well as ants and other bees that compete with the native Hawaiian bees.

One of the seven species, Hylaeus anthracites, is now found in just 15 locations on Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Molokai and Oahu. Protection of these areas could be a start to aid the bees.

“Unfortunately, the USFWS has not designated any ‘critical habitat,’ areas of land of particular importance for the endangered bees,” wrote Shepherd.

The listing comes just a week after the USFWS proposed listing another bee, the rusty patchedbumble bee, to the endangered species list. During the past 50 years, about 30 percent of beehives in the U.S. have collapsed, according to the the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Sept. 9, a new study published in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that the world’s most commonly used insecticide, neonicotinoids, caused queen bees to lay fewer eggs and worker bees to be less productive. A Greenpeace investigation of internal studies conducted by chemical makers Bayer and Syngenta showed that these chemicals can harm honeybee colonies when exposed to high concentrations. In January, the EPA found that one of these neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, can be harmful to bees.

The National Pesticide Information Center states unequivocally, “Imidacloprid is very toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects.” The EPA has proposed prohibiting the use of neonicotinoids in the presence of bees.

The USFWS ruling protecting Hawaii’s yellow-faced bees becomes effective Oct. 31.

Source: EcoWatch

Researchers Just Accidentally Discovered A Process That Turns CO2 Directly Into Ethanol

Researchers Just Accidentally Discovered A Process That Turns CO2 Directly Into Ethanol

In a new twist to waste-to-fuel technology, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. Their finding, which involves nanofabrication and catalysis science, was serendipitous.