The Daily Dose: Humans with genetically enhanced intelligence becomes a reality in China

Humans with genetically enhanced intelligence is real: Independent research into the genetically modified Chinese twins has revealed that in addition to theoretically making them immune to HIV infection, the gene alteration may have also made them the first enhanced-intelligence beings in history. The gene in question, CCR5, has been shown to play a major role in memory creation and retention in mice. The open question is whether the scientist, He Jiankui, pursued the possible implications of altering the CCR5 gene. While CCR5 experts claim to never have been contacted, published papers regarding the gene’s role in intelligence stretch back to 2016 and are readily available. During a Q&A days after his announcement, He admitted that he was aware of CCR5’s role in intelligence.

The More the Merrier: Scientists have succeeded in expanding the number of bases capable of forming DNA and RNA. They expanded the current four bases — cytosine, adenine, guanine, and thymine — to include four more, bringing the total to eight. The discovery of the synthetic genetic language has broad implications, including proving that life on other planets may, theoretically, consist of different genetic codes. While other researchers have created unnatural bases in the past, the latest study is the first to systematically show that complementary synthetic bases can recognize each other and form a helix. The language is called, “hachimoji” after the Japanese words for eight and letter.

Ebola vaccine recipients expanded: Pregnant women and infants will now be able to receive an experimental Ebola vaccine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This reverses a controversial policy of excluding pregnant women from receiving the vaccine. The decision was made by advisors to the Congolese Ministry of Health. Critically, it received the blessing of the World Health Organization.

The War on Science: In its never ending struggle to disprove climate change, the White House is actively trying to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change really poses a national security threat. Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, federal agencies have affirmed the conclusion that it does. The panel will be headed by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director who is also emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University. Among over things, he has suggested that carbon emissions be viewed as an asset and also compared the demonization of carbon dioxide to Hitler’s treatment of Jews.

Japan just shot an asteroid: In its search for life in outer space, the Japanese have landed a space probe, Hayabusa 2, on an asteroid 300 million km from earth. After safely landing on the uneven and rocky terrain, the scientists shot a bullet into the surface to collect particles that will be returned to earth.

Forget the Galapagos: An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is highlighting the growing field of urban evolution. After a long period of being dismissed as being devoid of natural selection pressures, cities are being viewed as powerful testbeds of evolutionary mechanisms.
For a Q&A with an urban evolutionary biologist, read SCINQ’s interview with Menno Schilthuizen about his book, Darwin Comes to Town.

IMAGE SOURCE: Screenshot

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