Friday, October 09, 2015

Diary: artist at work + gym + books + genetics

The Artist at work - October 2006
We haven't seen much painting recently. I wonder how I can persuade her?


We were both at the gym this morning: sweat dripping off us. We hit the wall about half way through which in my case meant abandoning. A mystery: excessive humidity or perhaps we're incubating bugs?


I liked this article, about the original 'steely-eyed missile man', a phrase which got name-checked in that excellent film 'The Martian'.


Next, two books recommended by Razib Khan (a population geneticist):
"You should also read Garett Jones’ 'Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own' . It comes out early next month.

A week before Garett’s book, Joe Henrich’s 'The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter', is coming out. You should read it too!"
I'll let you know about them if I decide to buy; the second seems more interesting to me but I'd like to check the reviews first.


We had this remarkable story today about an incursion of middle-eastern 'early farmers' back into Africa c. 3,000 years ago. This has left a significant genetic footprint across sub-Saharan Africa.
"The Neolithic farmers from western Eurasia who, about 8,000 years ago, brought agriculture to Europe then began to return to Africa.

"We know now that they probably corresponded to a quarter of the people that already lived in East Africa (at that time). It was a major backflow, a very sizeable movement of people," said Dr Manica.

It is unclear what caused this move - potentially changes happening in the Egyptian empire - but it has left a genetic legacy.

"Quite remarkably, we see in Ethiopia about 20% - so a fifth - of the genome of people living there right now is actually of Eurasian origin, it actually comes from these farmers," explained Dr Manica.

"But it goes further than that, because if you go to the corners of Africa, all the way to West Africa or South Africa, even populations that we really thought were purely African have 5-6% of their genome that dates back to these western Eurasian farmers."
The most interesting question: those particular Eurasian alleles which have been preserved in present-day African populations - what exactly do they code for?

I guess it's early days.