Who was Jack the Ripper: Four theories on London's most notorious serial killer

New forensic evidence and three other theories on London's most notorious serial killer

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  • Forensic scientists said that they have unveiled Aaron Kosminski, a Polish barber, as Jack the Ripper.
  • Critics say the evidence is too weak to declare the case closed.
  • An earlier genetic analysis of letters sent to the police by Jack the Ripper suggested that the murders could have been committed by a woman.
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Study claims to identify the homeland of all modern humans

A DNA study looks for the home of the earliest modern humans.

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  • A DNA study traces the homeland of modern humans to the Makgadikgadi-Okavango wetland.
  • The area is shared by the modern-day countries of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
  • The researchers drew conclusions from the mitochondrial DNA of humans living in that area today, but some scientists question their methodology.
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Mutation in 'junk DNA' behind several deadly cancers

A single typo in the "dark matter" of the genome drives multiple types of cancer.

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  • Only about 2 percent of the human genome codes for proteins; the rest is called noncoding DNA.
  • We used to think this portion of the genome served almost no purpose. Now, however, we have learned that it performs several important biological functions, though much of it is still unknown. This lack of insight is why it's sometimes referred to as the "dark matter" of the human genome.
  • In two studies, researchers from Ontario discovered a mutation in this genetic dark matter that changes how gene products are spliced, potentially resulting in several different kinds of cancer.
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Has Jurassic Park fostered misunderstanding about extinction?

While the blockbuster franchise might have given us a distorted view of science's capabilities to address species extinction, new research might come close to "resurrecting" lost species' DNA.

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  • Jurassic Park has fueled public misconceptions about science's abilities to bring extinct species back to life.
  • De-extinction technology can resurrect genetic material from extinct species into their living relatives in a way that can assist conservation efforts.
  • Fostering empathy for other-than-human lives through stories might be the key to addressing the current ecological catastrophe.
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Could Earth have a 'shadow' biosphere?

Some scientists think there may be a hidden, second form of life living right under our noses.

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  • All life on Earth shares some basic characteristics, such as being carbon-based; using DNA, RNA, and proteins to function; and so on.
  • Many of these characteristics are simply the only ones that could work in Earth's environment, but there are also a surprising number of seemingly arbitrary features of life.
  • Under the shadow biosphere theory, some scientists argue that alternative forms of life exist right here on Earth, undetected simply because we don't know to look for them.
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