Category Archives: Science

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.


Disgusting liberals manipulate “gay” penguins to push anti-science LGBT agenda

Penguins are undeniably interesting creatures, with their feather tuxedos and trademark waddle. Recently, gay penguins have been a subject of particular interest — especially now that these “couples” are being given their own eggs to care for. In Sydney, Australia, a pair of male Gentoo penguins named Magic and Sphen have been applauded for “fostering” an egg. But is all this media mayhem about gay penguins really about the penguins, or is the liberal media using these animals to push their own agenda?


Canadian scientists slam Italian professor’s lecture on gender and physics

Canadian scientists and professors are among hundreds that have signed a statement condemning what they call a “fundamentally unsound” presentation by an Italian physicist on gender issues, and they say they are concerned about prevailing sexism in science.

Science will be more productive with a government mandated quota system.


Nature 90, Nurture 10

Anyone with an ounce of common sense, two eyes, and a grasp of history understands instinctively that most genetic traits are inheritable. Height, body type, skin color, even eye color run in genetically related families, and those families, bound together in local, tribal, ethnic, and national communities, reflect that. There’s nothing inherently conspiratorial, “racist” or “supremacist” about any of this. And yet, for decades, ideologically driven scientists and cultural Marxist apologists have struggled with such a raw truth, and have endeavored to show that nurture, not nature, is the determining factor, especially when it comes to talents and intelligence. After all, what do human sperm and eggs have to do with the making of the New Soviet Man omelet?


Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?

This week, scientists announced a breakthrough in the battle to bring the northern white rhino back from the brink of extinction.

The last male of the species died earlier this year, reducing the entire population to just two female animals beyond their calf-baring years. But now, cutting edge reproductive and stem cell technology has produced embryos from frozen northern-white sperm and the eggs of the closely related southern white rhino.


Anomaly: Human mortality hits a plateau after 105 years of age

Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth/Lucas Cranach the Elder (Wikimedia Commons)

From Mark Barna at Discover:

A study published today in Science indicates that people are indeed living longer and that the maximum lifespan for humans has not yet been reached.

And what they found was that after the age of 105, human mortality seems to hit a plateau. That is, you aren’t any more likely to die at 110 than at 105. It’s a contradictory finding, because mortality ticks steadily upward as we get older at all previous ages. Hit that golden age, a temporal “island of stability” if you will, though, and your odds of surviving stay about the same.

A report in 2016 out of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine concluded that maximum human life span was 115 years. People have lived longer; a woman died in France in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122. But those are anomalies. More.

The study was published in Science. The authors argued against a limit to the human lifespan.

122 years? Intriguingly, this passage appears in Genesis 6, written millennia ago, just prior to the Flood story:

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal ; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

It’ll be interesting to see if that turns out to be a correct intuition, now that it can be tested.*

From Jason Daley at the Smithsonian:

So why would mortality rates level off at such an extreme age? Geneticist Siegfried Hekimi at McGill University in Montreal tells Carl Zimmer at The New York Times that cells in the body accrue damage, which is only partially repaired. (Hekimi was not affiliated with the study.) Over time, all that damage leads to aging of bodily systems and death. It’s possible that these extremely old people age more slowly, and their bodies are able to keep up with the repairs.

Jay Olshansky, a bio-demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, however, tells Dolgin that an endless plateau doesn’t make sense. Certain cells in the body like neurons, he says, do not replicate. Instead, they simply wither and die, placing a limit on how long humans can live.

*Perhaps we can usefully distinguish between a normal human lifespan of 70 to 80 years if all goes well and a maximum human lifespan of around 115-120 years. Because far more human beings than formerly are living out a normal lifespan, more people are available to become centenarians. But transhumanism, the idea that we can use technology to live for centuries, won’t get much support from current longevity data.

See also: Study suggesting human life span limit of 115-125 years draws fire