Roughly 8 percent of your DNA isn't really human. (How's that for a morning wake-up call?) Instead, it's the de-activated remnants of ancient retroviruses. All viruses hijack host cell machinery to replicate themselves, but retroviruses are a little more invasive than most. These viruses trick cells into turning viral RNA into DNA—the reverse of the normal DNA to RNA transcription process—and then snuggle that DNA right into the rest of the host's genome. They mutate frequently and, sometimes, accidentally deactivate themselves—in which case the "dead" viral DNA just ends up hanging out in the human genome.
It's a sneaky tactic that makes retroviruses—including HIV—difficult to fight. But it also leaves researchers "fossils" to study, physical evidence of viral evolution and adaptation that isn't really available any other way. Scientists can separate out the viral DNA from the human, and use it to learn how to better fight modern retroviruses.
Now, the jaw dropping part. That image above? That's a picture of particles of an ancient virus, budding off of a modern cell. Researchers at Rockefeller University in New York used computer models to estimate what mutated viral DNA taken from the human genome would have originally looked like, and replicated a working version. Somewhere, a screenwriter is already hard at work on treatment that can only be described as, "Jurassic Park meets The Hot Zone!"
I have offered plenty of advice on caring for your cast iron cookware. Stop seasoning it in the house, use your BBQ. Seasoning this stuff in the oven (my favorite old way,) or on the stove smokes your house up. Just throw the shit on the grill. Super thinly put a coat of oil on […]
One of the major contributors to greenhouse gases is the methane that cows belch up as they break down cellulose, but five years ago, research from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that adding small amounts of a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis to cows' diets eliminated the gut microbes responsible for methane […]
On Slate Star Codex (previously), Scott Alexander breaks down Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, Marco Del Giudice's Quarterly Review of Biology paper that examines the measures that parasites take to influence their hosts' behaviors, and the countermeasures that hosts evolve to combat them.
There’s no shortage of stories about the benefits of cannabidiol, that benign (and non-psychoactive) cousin of THC. Some have been using it for years to deal with pain, stress, and sleeplessness. And the more people use it, the more discussion there is about how to use it. While there’s no shortage of quality edibles on […]
Are we done with capsule coffee makers yet? Sure, they’re easy. But they are not so easy on the environment, and it’s debatable whether they actually make a better cup. Luckily, there’s never been a better time to switch back to the good old reliable drip method – especially when drip coffeemakers have quietly been […]
If there’s one thing that stayed consistent through the last decade or so of tech industry turmoil, it’s the love affair between techies and Linux. There’s just a ton you can do with the OS, and its open-source format means you can customize your rig from the ground up. Apparently not content with that level […]