How Has Technology Changed Your Day-To-Day Life?

Jepsen:  Personal technology, well for me I had a brain tumor removed 13 years ago and so if I take a bunch of pills and shots and patches and a bunch of other stuff every 12 hours I die, so it’s always there.  It’s always in the front and it’s medicine that has had the biggest impact on my life, but as a result of that every day I could die if I don’t get my pills and if they get sort of taken, because some of them are liquid, by the security at the airport it creates all sorts of problems.  So I guess then you focus on what do you want to do with the time that you have because any day could be your last?  And some days it’s really hard to get your meds so you’re more focused on that.  And so I guess what I’m trying to do is just use the skills that I have and I fell in love with flashing colored lights when I was a kid and I really liked learning about them and I wasn’t thinking about poor children in Africa but now I figured out how my love for flashing colored lights can help poor children in Africa so that’s sort of all I do right now is try to lower the cost of computers so that more people can have access to them.  I think it’s a step function.  The world’s going online, just like right now half of all Africans will have cell phones in two years, half of all Africans.  I mean right now there’s three billion cell phones deployed in the world and there’s only a billion people in the developed world, which shows that cell phones have kind of led what we’re going to do with computing.  And so how do we get computers to the point where people in the developing world can have access to them because we know that if they can have access to them they can help raise themselves in steps out of poverty.

Technology saved her life, and Mary Lou Jepsen is returning the favor.

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Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

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  • 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.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

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.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
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  • 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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