Could just two people repopulate Earth?

(Credit: Getty Images)

The last man on Earth is a common trope in fiction – but what if it actually happened? How many people would it take to save our species?

By Zaria Gorvett

The alien predators arrived by boat. Within two years, everyone was dead. Almost.

The tiny islet of Ball’s Pyramid lies 600km east of Australia in the South Pacific, rising out of the sea like a shard of glass. And there they were – halfway up its sheer cliff edge, sheltering under a spindly bush – the last of the species. Two escaped and just nine years later there were 9,000, the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Adam and Eve.

No, this isn’t a bizarre take on the story of creation. The lucky couple were tree lobsters Dryococelus australis, stick insects the size of a human hand. They were thought to be extinct soon after black rats invaded their native Lord Howe Island in 1918, but were found clinging on in Ball’s Pyramid 83 years later. The species owes its miraculous recovery to a team of scientists who scaled 500ft of vertical rock to reach their hiding place in 2003. The lobsters were named “Adam” and “Eve” and sent to start a breeding programme at Melbourne Zoo.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Lord Howe Island near Australia – where species have been driven to the brink thanks to ‘alien’ invaders (Credit: Getty Images)

Bouncing back after insect Armageddon is one thing. Female tree lobsters lay 10 eggs every 10 days and are capable of parthenogenesis; they don’t need a man to reproduce. Repopulating the earth with humans is quite another matter. Could we do it? And how long would it take?

The answer is more than a whimsical discussion for the pub. From Nasa’s research on the magic number of pioneers needed for our move to another planet, to decisions about the conservation of endangered species, it’s a matter of increasing international importance and urgency.

The average person has between one and two lethal recessive mutations in their genome

So let’s fast-forward 100 years. Humanity’s endeavours have gone horribly wrong and a robot uprising has wiped us off the face of the Earth – a fate predicted by Stephen Hawking in 2014. Just two people made it. There’s no way around it: the first generation would all be brothers and sisters.

Sigmund Freud believed incest was the only universal human taboo alongside murdering your parents. It’s not just gross, it’s downright dangerous. A study of children born in Czechoslovakia between 1933 and 1970 found that nearly 40% of those whose parents were first-degree relatives were severely handicapped, of which 14% eventually died.

Recessive risks

To understand why inbreeding can be so deadly, we need to get to grips with some genetics. We all have two copies of every gene, one from each parent. But some gene variants don’t show up unless you have two exactly the same. Most inherited diseases are caused by these “recessive” variants, which sneak through the evolutionary radar because they are harmless on their own. In fact, the average person has between one and two lethal recessive mutations in their genome.

When a couple are related, it doesn’t take long for the mask to slip. Take achromatopsia, a rare recessive disorder which causes total colour blindness. It affects 1 in 33,000 Americans and is carried by one in 100. If one of our post-apocalyptic survivors had the variant, there’s a one in four chance of their child having a copy. So far, so good. After just one generation of incest, the risk skyrockets – with a one in four chance of their child having two copies. That’s a 1 in 16 chance that the original couple’s first grandchild would have the disease.

This was the fate of the inhabitants of Pingelap, an isolated atoll in the western Pacific. The entire population is descended from just 20 survivors of a typhoon which swept the island in the 18th Century, including a carrier of achromatopsia. With such a small gene pool, today a 10th of the island’s population is totally colour blind…

more…

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160113-could-just-two-people-repopulate-earth

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Why sexual desire is objectifying – and hence morally wrong

<em>Resting Model</em>, 1839 by Constantin Hansen. <em>Courtesy Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen/Wikipedia</em>Resting Model, 1839 by Constantin Hansen. Courtesy Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen/Wikipedia

by Raja Halwani is professor of philosophy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of Philosophy of Love, Sex and Marriage (2010).

The 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that human beings tend to be evil. He wasn’t talking about some guy rubbing his hands and crowing with glee at the prospect of torturing an enemy. He was thinking about the basic human tendency to succumb to what we want to do instead of what we ought to do, to heed the siren-song of our desires instead of the call of duty. For Kant, morality is the force that closes this gap, and holds us back from our darker, desiring selves. 

Once desire becomes suspect, sex is never far behind. Kant implicitly acknowledged the unusual power of sexual urges and their capacity to divert us from doing what is right. He claimed that sex was particularly morally condemnable, because lust focuses on the body, not the agency, of those we sexually desire, and so reduces them to mere things. It makes us see the objects of our longing as just that ­– objects. In so doing, we see them as mere tools for our own satisfaction.

Treating people as objects can mean many things. It could include beating them, tearing into them, and violating them. But there are other, less violent ways of objectifying people. We might treat someone as only a means to our sexual pleasure, to satisfy our lust on that person, to use a somewhat archaic expression. The fact that the other person consents does not get rid of the objectification; two people can agree to use one another for purely sexual purposes.

But don’t we use each other all the time? Many of us have jobs – as cleaners, gardeners, teachers, singers. Does the beneficiary of the service objectify the service provider, and does the service provider objectify the recipient by taking their money? These relationships don’t seem to provoke the same moral qualms. Either they do not involve objectification, or the objectification is somehow neutered.

Kant said that these scenarios weren’t really a problem. He draws a distinction between mere use – the basis of objectification – and more-than-mere use. While we might employ people to do jobs, and accept payment for our work, we don’t treat the person on the other side of the transaction as a mere tool; we still recognise that person’s fundamental humanity.

Sex, though, is different. When I hire someone to sing, according to Kant, my desire is for his or her talent – for the voice-in-action. But when I sexually desire someone, I desire his or her body, not the person’s services or talents or intellectual capabilities, although any of these could enhance the desire. So, when we desire the person’s body, we often focus during sex on its individual parts: the buttocks, the penis, the clitoris, the thighs, the lips. What we desire to do with those parts differs, of course. Some like to touch them with the hand, others with the lips, others with the tongue; for others still, the desire is just to look. This does not mean that I would settle for a human corpse: our desire for human bodies is directed at them as living, much like my desire for a cellphone is directed at a functioning one.

But, one might object, don’t we do sexual things because we love our partners, and want them to feel pleasure? Of course we do. But if we did so when we didn’t want to in the first place, then we do not do it out of sexual desire. And if we don’t do it out of sexual desire, then the problem of objectification does not present itself. We can enjoy sexually pleasing someone else. But you can think of the other person as a sophisticated instrument: to give the maximum pleasure, we have to please it. Just because I have to oil and maintain my car for it to work does not mean it is any less of an instrument…

more…

https://aeon.co/ideas/why-sexual-desire-is-objectifying-and-hence-morally-wrong

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Science Discovers A Song that Reduces Anxiety by 65 Percent – Listen

by Anna Hunt, Staff, Waking Times

Scientists discover that listening to the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union can results in a striking 65 percent reduction in a person’s overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

The Anxiety Pandemic

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”Arthur Somers Roche

Anxiety is a growing pandemic in our society. The mainstream solution is a trip to the psychiatrist and an indefinite prescription for pharmaceuticals. As a result, many anxiety sufferers find themselves dependent on psychotropic drugs but still searching for relief.

Because of this, it begs the question if a pharmaceutical solution even works. Many believe that treating anxiety with a holistic approach may be more effective than expensive, addictive and sometimes even dangerous psychotropic drugs. Holistic alternatives range from treating anxiety with foods that fight inflammation, to exercise, yoga, and meditation. People also like to use age-old tricks for calming nerves, such as breath exercises.

Music is Effective at Reducing Anxiety

Music therapy is already an accepted alternative therapy for stress and pain management. It has also been shown to help improve immune support system function. Historically, indigenous cultures have used sound to enhance physical and mental well-being, as well as enrich spiritual experiences.

Now, neuroimaging has proven that playing music can substantially reduce anxiety. Scientists in the UK have identified what can be called the most relaxing song on earth song. By playing the song “Weightless” by Manchester trio Marconi Union, these researchers reduced anxiety by 65 percent in individuals who participated in their clinical study. Have a listen:

Science Discovers the Most Relaxing Song on Earth

Researchers at Mindlab International, led by clinical psychologist Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson, were commissioned to find out which song is the most effective at helping someone to relax. They played songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay, among many others, to 40 participating women.

The researchers discovered that the song “Weightless” resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates. Dr. Lewis-Hodgson stated:

“The results clearly show that the track induced the greatest relaxation – higher than any of the other music tested.

“Brain imaging studies have shown that music works at a very deep level within the brain, stimulating not only those regions responsible for processing sound but also ones associated with emotions.”

Sound therapist Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, explains the process of how the song affects the body:

“[The song] contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to around 50.

“While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat.

“It is important that the song is eight minutes long because it takes about five minutes for this process, known as entrainment, to occur.”

The study was conducted on participants who were asked to solve difficult puzzles, as quickly as possible, while connected to sensors. Participants listened to different songs while researchers measured brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and the rate of breathing.

Anxiety and Overall Health

Lowering anxiety can be one of the most important steps a person can take towards improving overall health and well-being. Stress can increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, depression, gastrointestinal ailments, asthma, and even obesity. It can also exacerbate these problems if they are preexisting.

Furthermore, researchers continue to discover that anxiety and stress can be fatal. Here are the findings published in a 2015 working paper out of Harvard and Stanford Business Schools:

The paper found that health problems stemming from job stress, like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and decreased mental health, can lead to fatal conditions that wind up killing about 120,000 people each year—making work-related stressors and the maladies they cause, more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or influenza.

Top 10 Songs for Helping Reduce Anxiety

Here’s the full list of the top 10 relaxing songs discovered by Mindlab International during their research.

  1. We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)
  2. Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart
  3. Someone Like You,” by Adele
  4. Pure Shores,” by All Saints
  5. Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona
  6. Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay
  7. Watermark,” by Enya
  8. Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah
  9. Electra,” by Airstream
  10. Weightless,” by Marconi Union
About the Author
Anna Hunt is co-owner of OffgridOutpost.com, an online store offering GMO-free healthy storable food and emergency kits. She is also the staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Anna is a certified Hatha yoga instructor and founder of Atenas Yoga Center. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Visit her essential oils store here. Visit Offgrid Outpost on Facebook.
Sources:
http://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/neuroscience-says-listening-to-this-one-song-reduces-anxiety-by-up-to-65-percent.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8830066/Band-creates-the-most-relaxing-tune-ever.html
This article (Science Discovers A Song that Reduces Anxiety by 65 Percent – Listen) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes or its staff.
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World’s Richest People Gained $237 Billion in 2016, Says Report

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortego, Jeff Bezos,  Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, David Koch, Larry Ellison, and Larry Page. (composite AP/Getty Images)

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortego, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, David Koch, Larry Ellison, and Larry Page. (composite AP/Getty Images)

The world’s richest people got even richer in 2016, according to a Bloomberg analysis on Tuesday.

The 200 wealthiest people on the planet collectively made $237 billion throughout the year and have an amassed $4.4 trillion through the end of trading on Dec. 27, 2016, the report stated. The rise represents an increase of about 5.7 percent.

Warren Buffett, the super-investor head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., made $11.8 billion during the year due to gains from financial and airline stocks. He’s now the second richest person in the world following Bill Gates.

“In general, clients rode through the volatility,” said Simon Smiles, chief investment officer with UBS Wealth Management—which serves ultra-rich clients—according to Bloomberg News.

“2016 ended up being a spectacular year for risk assets. Pretty remarkable given the start of the year,” he said.

Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, added about $10 billion, and he’s now worth $91.5 billion for the year’s end, making him still by far the richest person in the world.

After that was oil company owner Harold Hamm, who more than doubled his fortune to $15.3 billion.

Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos added $7.5 billion to his net worth this year, ending with $67.2 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg added some $5.4 billion to his net worth, ending up with $51.2 billion.

France’s Bernard Arnault added $7.1 billion, making him worth around $38.9 billion, the report added.

These are the current top 15 richest people in the world:

  1. Bill Gates (American) – $91.5 billion.
  2. Warren Buffett (American) – $74.1 billion.
  3. Amancio Ortego (Spanish) – $71.2 billion.
  4. Jeff Bezos (American) – $67.2 billion.
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (American) – $51.2 billion.
  6. Carlos Slim (Mexican) – $49.2 billion.
  7. Charles Koch (American) – $46 billion.
  8. David Koch (American) – $46 billion.
  9. Larry Ellison (American) – $41.9 billion.
  10. Larry Page (American) – $40.7 billion.
  11. Sergey Brin (American) – $39.9 billion.
  12. Ingvar Kamprad (Swedish) – $39.6 billion.
  13. Bernard Arnault (French) – $38.9 billion.
  14. Liliane Bettencourt (French) – $35.8 billion.
  15. Rob Walton (American) – $34.7 billion.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2204173-worlds-richest-people-gained-237-billion-in-2016-says-report/

 

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IF YOU USE FACEBOOK MESSENGER, HERE’S HOW YOU’RE BEING RECORDED EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT USING YOUR PHONE

messenger

Is “legal weed” making you sick? Mysterious illness tied to marijuana use on the rise

© Issei Kato / Reuters

For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.

“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.

The answer was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. It’s caused by heavy, long-term use of various forms of marijuana. For unclear reasons, the nausea and vomiting are relieved by hot showers or baths.

“They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.

He co-authored a studyshowing that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits diagnoses for CHS in two Colorado hospitals nearly doubled. In 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”

Outside of Colorado, when patients do end up in an emergency room, the diagnosis is often missed. Partly because doctors don’t know about CHS, and partly because patients don’t want to admit to using a substance that’s illegal.

CHS can lead to dehydration and kidney failure, but usually resolves within days of stopping drug use. That’s what happened with Crowder, who has been off all forms of marijuana for seven months.

“Now all kinds of ambition has come back. I desire so much more in life and, at 37 years old, it’s a little late to do it, but better now than never,”he said.

CHS has only been recognized for about the past decade, and nobody knows exactly how many people suffer from it. But as more states move towards the legalization of marijuana, emergency room physicians like Dr. Heard are eager to make sure both doctors and patients have CHS on their radar.

https://www.sott.net/article/338136-Is-legal-weed-making-you-sick-Mysterious-illness-tied-to-marijuana-use-on-the-rise

 

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Rilke’s Book of Hours as Portent and Guide

Rilke’s <i>Book of Hours</i> as Portent and GuideLionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library | https://tricy.cl/2hIrhrq

Joanna Macy’s reading of Rilke offers a Middle Way in an era of ecological devastation.

By Marie Scarles
 

I remember the day I first read Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies. I purchased a copy at Powell’s Books in downtown Portland, Oregon, and then biked east over the Willamette River to Alberta Park. I lay in the grass, shirtsleeves rolled onto my shoulders, and read the whole book in an afternoon. I remember it clearly because I read for so long that I burned the back of my neck as the shadow of the tree I’d been lying under moved away with the shifting sun—and because the lines in the book felt like they’d been spoken directly into my chest. The book lived in my bag collecting dog-ears and underlines for the rest of the summer.

In the Ninth Elegy, after asking why we’re here on earth in the first place, Rilke writes:

But because just being here matters, because
the things of this world, these passing things,
seem to need us, to put themselves in our care
somehow. Us, the most passing of all.
Once for each, just once. Once and no more.
And for us too, once. Never again. And yet
it seems that this—to have once existed,
even if only once, to have been a part
of this earth—can never be taken back.

I found Rilke’s attention to transience and mutability resonant with the dharma, and I took solace in his lines praising immanence: to have once existed, / even if only once, to have been a part / of this earth—can never be taken back.

This year, I was thrilled when the Garrison Institute offered me a spot at environmental activist and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy’s weeklong retreat, “Rainer Maria Rilke and the Force of the Storm.” I looked forward to spending a week on the Hudson River in a state of leisurely solitude to match my memory of that day in Portland: I foresaw hikes in the woods, reading in the cozy lounge areas of Garrison’s renovated Capuchin monastery, and a week infused with quiet wonder. The retreat would be a melding of Macy’s longtime environmental activist work with her love of the 19th-century German poet; I was curious to see how the two would intertwine.

Macy is a Buddhist scholar, environmental activist, and author whose teachings are informed by the dharma, deep ecology, and systems thinking. In 1978, she developed an open-source workshop curriculum called the Work that Reconnects, a set of teachings to help make environmental and social devastation into an embodied experience for participants at dharma and community centers. The workshops create a space for people who are invested in ecological concerns to meet and connect with one another, and to replenish themselves spiritually. Macy describes “the activist’s inner journey” as a spiral with four successive stages—opening to gratitude, owning our pain (or dukkha) for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth—that are predicated on the idea that in order to heal ourselves and our ecosystems first we must be willing to feel both suffering and joy. “You’re stuck with what you don’t allow yourself to feel,” Macy said during workshop one day. It seems this motto drives forward both her work and the work of her students.

When I arrived at Garrison, I set my bags in the small plain room, formerly a monk’s quarters, and joined the group for our first meeting with Macy. She told us that her love of Rilke’s poetry began more than 50 years ago when she came across the original Insel Verlag edition of The Book of Hours in a Munich bookstore. She was struck by Rilke’s emphasis on the reciprocal relationship between humanity and God, and later, when she was introduced to Buddhist teachings, she found that his work aligned with the Buddha’s central doctrine of dependent co-arising.

The poems in The Book of Hours, written in the persona of a cloistered Russian monk, are often read as a series of intimate conversations with the Christian God, but in Macy’s workshop she read Rilke more broadly. She’s found a template within his poetry for ecological and social activism, an activism that relies on our capacity for deep feeling to guide us toward a “life-sustaining society.” On the first day, Macy gave us a brief background on the life of the poet…

more…

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/rilkes-book-hours-portent-guide/

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