Clear to Fly Fruit flies share around 60% of their genes with…

Clear to Fly

Fruit flies share around 60% of their genes with humans, so it’s not surprising that some aspects of our development are similar, too. Peaking inside a fly’s brain can reveal clues about own early nervous system, but there are challenges. This fly’s huge compound eyes normally contain coloured pigments which interfere with laser light used by powerful microscopes. But a new technique called ‘FlyClear’ sluices away the pigmentation, clearing the blocking chemicals but leaving the fly’s brain intact and transparent. Using gentle ultramicroscopy, tiny networks of neurons stretching behind the eyes to the brain are picked out, artificially coloured here in green. Applying these techniques to flies of different ages might reveal clues about how neurodegenerative diseases disrupt these networks – a vital step towards treatments.

Written by John Ankers

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There is no scientific proof that war is ingrained in human nature, according to study

Is it in our nature to go to war? Should we just accept the fact that humans have this innate tendency and are hardwired to kill members of other groups?

There is no scientific proof that war is ingrained in human nature, according to study
Rock paintings in Tadrart Acacus region of Libya dated from 12,000 BC to 100 AD
[Credit: WikiCommons]

No, says R. Brian Ferguson, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University-Newark. There is no scientific proof that we have an inherent propensity to take up arms and collectively kill.

In a study published in Scientific American, Ferguson argues that war may not be in our nature at all. People might fight and sometimes kill for personal reasons, but homicide, he argues, is not war.

“There is definitely controversy in the field when it comes to this question,” says Ferguson, who studies human nature, war and peace. “But it is the overall circumstances that we live in that creates the impulse to go or not go to war.”

In his study, “War May Not Be in Our Nature After All. Why We Fight”, Ferguson reached back thousands of years to look at the historical roots of warfare to shed light on whether humans have always made war or if armed conflict has only emerged as changing social conditions provided the motivation and organization to collectively kill.

It’s a topic he’s been studying since the Vietnam War, a period in history that sparked his interest. His research is an attempt to settle an age-old academic debate over whether humans are hardwired to fight wars or if war is a human invention. If war is not ingrained in human nature, that may help provide a basis for arguing against war as an option, he says.

Many scientists and scholars believe that humans as a species are aggressive, brutal and bloodthirsty and this behavior is part of our DNA. Ferguson argues, however, that there is no real indication or scientific proof that humans have been waging war for the entire history of the species.

“Warlike cultures in some places became common only over the past 10,000 years and in most place more recently than that,” Ferguson says.

In his research, Ferguson looked at cases reported as violent deaths throughout the prehistoric record. He found that 15 percent to 25 percent of deaths that many anthropologists and archeologists say were the result of war may reflect cherry-picking the most violent cases, which are contradicted by broad surveys of all archaeological sites.

“Individual killing is not the same as war on social groups,” says Ferguson. “War leaves physical traces that archaeologists can find. When and where it began is very different in different places around the world, but there are stretches of even thousands of years when there are no clear signs of war.”

Part of the reason for the debate, Ferguson says, is that the evidence used to identify prehistoric warfare – weapons, art and cave paintings, defensive structures and skeletal remains – are often ambiguous and difficult to interpret. Careful examination of all evidence typically finds no strong indication of war in early remains, which changes to clear signs of war in later periods.

He disputes the belief of many scholars that humans may have inherited their genetic makeup from their chimpanzee cousins millions of years ago. After examining every reported chimpanzee killing, Ferguson, who is writing a book on the subject, believes that war among chimps was not an evolved evolutionary strategy but rather a response to human contact and disturbances.

So why did war become so common in more recent archaeological finds? Ferguson says that preconditions that made war more likely became far more widespread, including social hierarchy, a more sedentary existence, a growing regional population, valuable resources and the establishment of boundaries. These conditions have sometimes worsened with severe environmental changes, he says.

Ferguson, who also studies contemporary war, brutal civil wars around the world and U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, agrees with anthropologist Margaret Mead that “warfare is only an invention, not a biological necessity,” but does he not see war ending.

“Anthropologists think about prospects for war in the long term,” Ferguson says. “If the idea that war is part of human nature is not scientifically supported, alternative futures open up. If more people work for prevention, the eventual eradication of war is a definite theoretical possibility.”

Source: Rutgers University [December 04, 2018]



SpaceX – Private Lunar & Martian Missions

SpaceX logo.

Dec. 4, 2018


On September 17, 2018, SpaceX announced fashion innovator and globally recognized art curator Yusaku Maezawa will be the company’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon in 2023. To date, only 24 people have visited the Moon, with the last of them flying in 1972.


This first private lunar passenger flight, featuring a fly-by of the Moon as part of a weeklong mission, will help fund development of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Rocket (formerly known as BFR), an important step in enabling access for everyday people who dream of flying to space.


“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” — Elon Musk, SpaceX.


SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Rocket represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to service all Earth orbit needs as well as the Moon and Mars. This two-stage vehicle—composed of the Super Heavy Rocket (booster) and Starship (ship)—will eventually replace Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon.

By creating a single system that can service a variety of markets, SpaceX can redirect resources from Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon to the Starship-Super Heavy system—which is fundamental in making the system affordable.

Starship-Super Heavy Uses

An important question we have to answer is, “How do we pay for this system?” The answer lies in creating a single system that can support a variety of missions. SpaceX can then redirect resources from Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon to this system.


SpaaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Rocket are designed to deliver satellites to Earth orbit and beyond, at a lower marginal cost per launch than our current Falcon vehicles. With a 9 m diameter forward payload compartment, larger than any other current or planned fairing, Starship creates possibilities for new missions, including space telescopes even larger than the James Webb.

STARSHIP-SUPER HEAVY first stage separation

Space Station Missions

Starship can deliver both cargo and people to and from the International Space Station. Starship’s pressurized forward payload volume is greater than 1,000 m3, enhancing utilization capacity for in-space activities. The aft cargo containers can also host a variety of payloads.

Interplanetary Transport

SpaceX Moon Base Alpha

Building Moon bases and Mars cities will require affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people. The fully reusable Starship|Super Heavy system uses in-space propellant transfer to enable the delivery of over 100 t of useful mass to the surface of the Moon or Mars. This system is designed to ultimately carry as many as 100 people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.

Missions to Mars

SpaceX Mars Base

Our aspirational goal is to send our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022. The objectives for the first mission will be to confirm water resources, identify hazards, and put in place initial power, mining, and life support infrastructure.

Making Life Multiplanetary

A second mission, with both cargo and crew, is targeted for 2024, with primary objectives of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights. The ships from these initial missions will also serve as the beginnings of the first Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.

Mars colonization

Mars Entry

Starship will enter the Mars atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield is designed to withstand multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into the Mars atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad).

 Mars landing

Earth to Earth Transportation

With Starship and the Super Heavy Rocket, most of what people consider to be long distance trips would be completed in less than half an hour. In addition to vastly increased speed, one great benefit about traveling in space, outside of Earth’s atmosphere, is the lack of friction as well as turbulence and weather. Consider how much time we currently spend traveling from one place to another. Now imagine most journeys taking less than 30 minutes, with access to anywhere in the world in an hour or less.

For more information about SpaceX, visit: SpaceX:

Images, Videos, Text, Credit: SpaceX.

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