The Helpless Y Chromosome
Dr. Marianne Legato is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, where she also directs and founded the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine.
Dr. Legato is the founder and editor of "The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine and of Gender-Medicine" and a leading advocate for the inclusion of women in clinical trials. She is annually cited in New York Magazine's top doctors issues. She is also the author of Eve's Rib:The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Your Life, The Female Heart, and Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget, and, most recently, "Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan." She edited the medical textbook, "Principles of Gender Specific Medicine," the first compilation for professional audiences of the sex-specific aspects of normal human function and disease.
She lives in New York City.
Question: Is the Y chromosome prone to mutations?
Marianne Legato: The Y chromosome is definitely unique among all the chromosomes. Over most of its extent, it can’t exchange with its partner the X chromosome to repair its deficiencies or mutations in DNA. It’s learned to repair itself in an interesting and unique way. The issues with the Y chromosome are that they are exposed to environmental toxins because they are housed outside the body in the scrotal sack. Many millions are produced every day and, therefore, mutations are far more frequent in the Y chromosome than in the X or indeed in any of the other chromosomes. So the male drives evolutionary development because of this extraordinary proliferation of mutations that are characteristic of sperm and the Y chromosome.
The masculine chromosome is unique in its inability to repair itself, making it exceptionally prone to mutation and pollution.
Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."
- Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
- This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
- On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.
- NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
- The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
- A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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