Do You Know About Mandela Day?
Lost in the festivities commemorating Canada Day (July 1st), the Fourth of July, and Bastille Day (July 14th) has been the first celebration of what could become the world’s pre-eminent non-denominational holiday. It doesn’t yet have the traditions behind the aforementioned national independence days, but there may not have been a more important day this year than July 18th, the first-ever Nelson Mandela Day.
Held on Mr. Mandela’s birthday, Nelson Mandela Day is the initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, the not-for-profit campaign named after Mandela’s prison number, which effectively served as his name for 27 years. But the day isn’t simply a celebration of Mr. Mandela’s struggles and accomplishments. Its organizers are looking to make the new holiday an international day of empowerment through which people can address compelling issues like human rights and civil liberties, hunger, education, health, social enterprise, and the environment. With a series of events that led up to Mr. Mandela’s receiving the Arthur Ashe Award at this year’s ESPY Awards for contributions transcending sports, the world is suddenly hearing a lot more about Nelson Mandela Day.
Leading up to next summer’s historic FIFA World Cup, which will be hosted by South Africa, last week saw a number of events looking to not simply publicize this new special day, but empower the world’s citizenry. President Bill Clinton hosted a gala dinner while the city of New York held a series of volunteering initiatives, culminating on the 18th in a special concert at Radio City Music Hall that featured artists including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Wyclef Jean. Considering the incredible rise in importance surrounding America’s commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, this international celebration of the soon-to-be 91-year-old former South African President could become something very special.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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