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Trauma Symptoms May Be Hereditary – Blame The Sperm

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spermFor better or worse—and despite resolutions to the contrary—we all end up like our parents to some extent. Over time, I’ve noticed my thinking has become strangely familiar, as though I’ve heard it somewhere before…and then I realize I just thought or said something my dad would say. Just the other day, I realized that I sign my name exactly like my mom does, even though as a kid I used to complain that she trails off after writing the “R” of our last name. Genes work strange magic sometimes, conflating nurture and nature and working far deeper than the conventional inheritance of diseases or other health conditions. Researchers now believe that symptoms of trauma, once thought to be non-genetic responses, can actually be passed down via sperm.

Scientists have always wondered why descendants of trauma survivors are more inclined toward mental illness than the average person. Some have looked to genetic to explain it, but have come up empty. A new study in Nature Neuroscience suggests that trauma in early life can affect a mechanism that dictates gene expression, in mouse sperm. Trauma changes gene expression, which then has cascading biological effects. But what wasn’t clear is whether those changes could be passed down to future generations. The provocative question raises the possibility of the inheritance of non-genetic traits.

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Want To Know What Your Babies Will Look Like When They Grow Up?

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aging faceCould the ugly duckling’s parents—or tormentors—have known that it would grow up to be a swan? If they had this new face aging software, they might have been a little nicer to the duckling right out of the gate.

Two University of Washington computer science and engineering professors developed this software that, in approximately 30 seconds, takes an image of a child’s face and predicts what that kid will look like over the years, stopping at age 80. The new program doesn’t just randomly guess, it actually takes into account facial expression and pose. Using thousands of photos of kids and adults, it came up with a basic aging prototype for both genders. It determines from online photos how much and in what ways faces change over time, and applies those textures, shape, and shades to the photo in question. Eventually, the duo hopes to integrate ethnicity, the change in hair color over time, and wrinkles.

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NASA To Test Einstein’s Twin Paradox On Actual Twins

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Mark and Scott KellyNASA’s latest experiment is something straight out of a sci-fi horror movie. Mostly because it involves identical twins—apologies to any twins out there in the audience, but movies have taught us to fear you (The Shining, Dead Ringers), or at least be wary of your wacky shenanigans (The Parent Trap). The space agency plans to use a pair of identical twin astronauts to determine the effects of long-terms space travel on the human body.

In March 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly will embark on a yearlong mission. He’ll hang out with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko on the International Space Station (ISS) for the duration, and when he returns to Earth, he’ll undergo all manner of tests and poking and prodding in order to determine the consequences of such a jaunt on his body.

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James Dyson’s Vacuum Barge Aims To Make Rivers Cleaner

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james dysonOne of the most frightening images that comes to mind before the emptiness of sleep is the monstrous Pacific Garbage Patch opening its rotting mouth and sinking sharpened plastic teeth into my ship during the ONE time I win a radio contest for a trans-Pacific cruise. This may be my own personal nightmare, but it should be universal. I’m surprised there’s no current series of horror films that centers on giant ocean trash monsters. Inventor and vacuum innovator James Dyson wants to tackle the growing problem of water-bound plastic garbage with a real world solution, instead of just nuking everything like they inevitably would in the movie. Enter the M.V. Recyclone.

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El Nino Could Make Another Appearance Later This Year

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el ninoAfter this brutal, seemingly endless winter, we better be in for a summer of sunny days and warm temperatures. I know I’m deluding myself, Boston summers are humid and swampy, but a girl can dream, right? That is, until scientists had to go and announce that El Nino might return this year. All I ask is that my perfect summer not be compromised.

El Nino, the warm phase (La Nina is the cool phase), is a recurring weather pattern associated with warmer ocean temperatures, particularly in the Pacific. The results are often dramatic, and include everything from floods to droughts. Generally, surface pressure rises around Australia, Indonesia, and the Indian Ocean, while air pressure falls over the central and eastern Pacific. South Pacific trade winds are affected. They move east and/or decrease, and as the warm water moves from west to east, the western Pacific experiences drought and the eastern Pacific sees a huge increase in rainfall—as well as mudslides and all of those fun rain-related events. All of this also impacts fishing, among other trades.

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SpaceX Sends Microbes And A Space Farm To The ISS

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UPDATE: A helium leak nixed plans for today’s launch. It has tentatively been rescheduled for 12:25PM PT/3:25 PM ET on Friday, April 18.

dragon capsuleThis afternoon, SpaceX plans to launch an unmanned Dragon capsule on a cargo run to the ISS. The launch is scheduled for 4:58 pm, and you can watch live here. This isn’t the first time SpaceX has made a cargo run for the ISS, and it certainly won’t be the last—the company has a 12-mission contract. It does make me wonder, though, what exactly the payload is. Sure, there are supplies the astronauts on the ISS need, but surely not 5,000 pounds worth. What else is riding in the Dragon?

Aboard the capsule is a mini space farm that will, if successful, allow astronauts to start growing their own veggies in space. The taste and quality of space food has certainly improved over time, but fresh vegetables would I’m sure be a welcome addition.