The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Conservation Genetics is in the good, the bad, and the ugly spotlight. Conservation Genetics “aims to understand the dynamics of genes in populations principally to avoid extinction.” Clear as mud? An Example It may be easier to understand with an example. Conservation genetics aims to help endangered species, like African cheetahs. Today the existing 10,000 African cheetahs share 99 percent of their DNA. In other words, they’re all related. This means there is little genetic diversity. Low genetic diversity leads to a population that is highly susceptible to disease. Disease that could make the African cheetahs extinct. Scientists involved with cheetah breeding projects determine how closely related two cheetahs are. They want to reintroduce genetic variety into the population of cheetahs. So, they choose the ones that are the furthest apart genetically and breed those two together.  If they are successful, the cheetah population will grow. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/better-living-through-conservation-genetics/) Revive & Restore Revive and Restore is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to “enhance biodiversity through new techniques of genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.” One of their funded projects searches for the genomic trigger of bleaching the coral reefs. They say that this study has the “potential opportunity to […]

The Sorrow and Joy of the Last Page

The writer and the reader experience the sorrow and joy of the last page. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. A good book drives you to that last page then, if you’re like me you sit there, hugging the book and feeling lost. This feeling comes from what psychologist and other scientists call deep reading. Most of us make pictures in our minds. We experience sorrow and joy. Science has shown that our emotional reactions are close to the same emotions as the characters we read about. The deeper, the more intense the reading–the more we exercise our brain. We become more empathetic. There are people who are not natural readers. Shocking, I know. They don’t experience reading in the same way. But, they can improve their reading skills and enjoyment. Parents reading to children is a critical step in helping poor readers learn to enjoy reading more. It’s important to read because reading increases the white matter in our brain. (A brief discussion of the science can be found here.) Reading nonfiction doesn’t do quite the same thing. In studies, reading nonfiction lights different areas of the brain than reading fiction does. Not better areas, different. Our emotions aren’t […]

Heart Stories

February isn’t over yet and neither is my list of heart stories. This week we look at history, at a true love story, an organization dedicated to helping women make time for and feel the love, and some real heart stories reminding you to take care of your heart health. HEART BALM RACKET From the Smithsonian, we take a look at How the Heart Balm Racket Convinced America Women Were No Good. What do you think? Was the Heart Balm Racket sensationalistic journalism or a real threat? LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT A love at first sight story, also from the Smithsonian. How do you like that Mr. Clemmons deliberately writing passages that his wife would react to? FEEL THE LOVE HeartStories is an organization whose mission is to help women hear Love louder than all the negative noise in your life. Read about them here. http://heartstories.com/about/ If you can’t or don’t want to join that organization, consider doing something for yourself. Make a goal to set aside time to slow down and feel the love around you. REAL HEART STORIES Do yourself a favor and read the Real Heart Stories from The Heart Foundation, then check out the rest of […]