Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome

The Black Death didn’t just wipe out millions of Europeans during the 14th century. It left a mark on the human genome, favoring those who carried certain immune system genes, according to a new study. Those changes may help explain why Europeans respond differently from other people to some diseases and have different susceptibilities to autoimmune disorders.

More here: Science.

The Universe Is Biophilic?

According to physicist Jeremy England, the origin and evolution of life are processes driven by the fundamental laws of nature — namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He’s come up with a formula showing how a group of atoms, when driven by an external source of energy (like the sun) and when surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), can sometimes restructure itself as a way to dissipate increasing rates of energy. (io9)

I wonder how far of a leap it is from this kind of notion of evolution of order to the kind of order we call culture?

Scientists using European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory have detected water vapor escaping from two regions on the dwarf planet / asteroid Ceres. The question then becomes whether it is erupting from cold volcanoes or if it is subliming, with a possible answer coming in 2015 when the NASA Dawn spacecraft orbits the planet/asteroid. Water on Ceres supports “models of the solar system in which giant planets, such as Jupiter, migrated to their current positions, mixing material from the outer and inner regions of the solar system. This mixing could have moved Ceres and Vesta far from the sites where they formed. Ceres probably formed close to its current position, but accreted material from further out. … The findings also suggest that asteroids may have delivered some of the water in Earth’s oceans.”

And, strangely enough, Ceres features in James Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, which I just finished reading. Cue Twilight Zone music…