Quick update. I just picked up Armor from John Steakley. And this book is really intense, as in really really intense! Armor is a brilliant re-imagining of Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". And while I am not into military sci-fi it offers something different:
Armor is a military science fiction novel by John Steakley. It has some superficial similarities with Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers (such as the military use of exoskeletons and insect-like alien enemies) but concentrates more on the psychological effects of violence on human beings rather than on the political aspect of the military, which was the focus of Heinlein's novel.
It was first published in December 1984.
We don't have anybody like Michael Crichton anymore. People will tell you to try Brown (Dan) if you say that too loudly, but it is true.
Sure you can read Brown, but only if you consider dumbed-down pseudo-science and poorly researched historical conspiracies presented as fact 'the exact same', then maybe.
I suppose Dan Brown is Michael Crichton for the masses; he draws normally uninterested readers in with socially controversial topics and makes them feel like they have some ridiculous new insight into them. Dan Brown writes basically the exact same kind of books Michael Crichton does.
The big difference is that with Dan Brown books he throws in cliffhangers at the end of every chapter.
I have yet to find any other author that matches Michael Crichton's dedication to proper research for a novel nor one that understands the topics he writes about as well as he did.
Read some of his older books (Terminal Man, Congo) and nothing in them seems all the extraordinary because today all of that technology is commonplace. Apply that to his newer books (Prey, Jurassic Park, etc. even aspects of Timeline) and consider that he might able to give a very real view of the future and problems we might want to contemplate before it's too late.
If we're able to produce enough anti-matter to blow up the Vatican (or do anything useful), measure the weight of someone's soul, or even create a practical rifle that can compress/heat snow/sand into ice/glass bullets in the next 40 years, I'll come back here for my public shaming.
As far as I know, there's currently no replacement for Michael Crichton.
We should all know how important it is, but … an alarming number of people that I have spoken with do not realize how important it is for our health and well being.
It is likely that many of the diseases that we consider to be diseases of the developed world are due at least in part to decreasing vitamin D. These diseases include heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. And it turns out that the levels of vitamin D that you need to prevent those illnesses is much higher than the level you need to prevent rickets, which is why in the vitamin D community we think that there is a widespread vitamin D deficiency, even though we really don't see rickets very often.
In the US, there are several diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes that are much more prevalent in black people than in other ethnic groups. This could very well be due to lower levels of vitamin D, because darker skinned people need to spend much more time in the sun to generate adequate vitamin D.
They're doing some research at the university of Minnesota on autism linkages to vitamin D linked to the Somali population in Minneapolis.
Apparently there isn't even a word for this condition in the Somali language but it has been appearing in the Somali community there at an alarming rate. While it does sound plausible that a rise in autism coincides with a decrease in vitamin D, what with the advent of indoor entertainment, but of course we all know correlation != causation.
I think the Somali population could prove to be a very interesting control group.
I'd be interested in more study with maternal vitamin D status as a risk factor for autism in children as well. There is some thought that autism might be due to maternal antibodies attacking the fetus, causing problems during brain development.
As you can see vitamin D does a whole lot more than prevent rickets, though. Vitamin D regulates a whole bunch of stuff including blood pressure (it inhibits the Renin enzyme which regulates the body's mean arterial blood pressure), the immune system, hormonal activity (including insulin), and many other important biological processes.
A lot of people just think spending time in the sun is enough, but like most things it is more complicated than that.
In other words more exposure to solar radiation.
It turns out solar radiation correlates with skin tone at a strength of about 60-70%. There is another explaining factor that is also very important.
Vitamin D in your food.
One control group that was studied for vitamin D levels … Inuits. They live very far north, yet they have darker skin than many Europeans.
It's because the Inuit diet is very high in fish which have substantial amounts of Vitamin D, while most white Europeans and Americans are often Vitamin D deficient due to our diets. Hence we have lighter skin despite having more solar radiation.
Lathe of Heaven is a very cerebral book and an equally rewarding film. It has a non existent budget, being filmed for WNET in 1979, but it hides it well. It's a great idea and there are some pretty great twists and turns. This is a movie that I can't believe hasn't been remade with a massive budget.
But this version is very well written and just omits expensive scenes as best as possible. the budget is not a distraction at all, and it's a great story.
The Lathe of Heaven is a 1980 film adaptation of the 1971 science fiction novel The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. It was produced in 1979 as part of New York City public television station WNET's Experimental TV Lab project, and directed by David Loxton and Fred Barzyk. Le Guin, by her own account, was involved in the casting, script planning, re-writing, and filming of the production.
The film stars Bruce Davison as protagonist George Orr, Kevin Conway as Dr. William Haber, and Margaret Avery as lawyer Heather LeLache.
It is the story of a young man who has the ability to change the future when he dreams. His doctor, Haber begins to use Orr's "effective dreams" to first create a prestigious, well-funded institute run by himself, then to attempt to solve various social problems.
These solutions unravel quickly: Haber suggests that Orr dream of a solution to overpopulation. This results in a plague which wipes out three-fourths of the human population. The end to all conflict on Earth, which results in an alien invasion uniting mankind, and an end to racism. This has the effect of a world where everyone's skin becomes a uniform shade of gray.
It is immensely satisfying and Ursula K. Le Guin is rarely a disappointment.
They (Green eyes) are most common in Northern and Central Europe. They can also be found in Southern Europe and North Africa. In fact, Turkey, at 20%, is the country with the largest percentage of green eyes. In Iceland, 89% of women and 87% of men have either blue or green eye color. A study of Icelandic and Dutch adults found green eyes to be much more prevalent in women than in men. Among European Americans, green eyes are most common among those of recent Celtic and Germanic ancestry, about 16%. SourceSo countries that have a higher percentage of fair eye color also have more people with green eyes. I might be rare here, but in Scotland for example, I could blend in.
About Genghis & MeI should say, while history is of interest to me, Genghis and I have never gotten close. It would be a stretch to say that I know much about it at all, though I am interested in the region. Just not his exploits. This will not be a history lesson, nor are all of my facts, checked and doubled checked. So take information revolving around him with a grain of salt. Wikipedia has a lot of good primary sources for this information. The question of where a group of people came from, sadly, isn’t really a direct and certain answer, as it is unknown how the migrations of other peoples to the region exactly affected the genetic composition of the ethnicity.
Red Hair, Green EyesHaving any of those traits was at the time of Genghis Khan uncommon. He came form Temujin, and there are few surviving accounts of what he actually looked like. Some claim he had red hair and blue/green eyes, yet you should be skeptical. Why? There are Uyghur with these vary traits living there now. Yet, Ugyhurs with red hair and/or very light eyes are generally a result of the fact that they were not the original inhabitants of Xinjiang, the area in which they mostly currently reside. Tocharians held the area before the Uyghurs, and they were an Indo-European people who had a tendency towards light hair/eyes (see Tarim mummies). The closest modern relatives to the Tocharians are of course the Afghans and Pashtuns, but in China the, Uyghurs would be most closely related to Tocharians, not the Mongols. It’s not uncommon for Afghans to have light eyes and hair. There’s no real evidence to suggest Genghis Khan had green eyes and red hair. It’s not an outlandish claim since there are a good number of Mongols with lighter hair and eyes but this gives people the wrong idea. They infer that these traits must mean there are “white” Mongols. There aren’t. They just look like Asian people with green or blue eyes, just like how white people don’t look “Asian” just because they might have dark hair and eyes. They share a similar culture, language, and history with the other Indo-Iranian peoples in the region, which is important to note considering that Tocharians traditions would have otherwise been more prevalent. Of course, there could be some modern day relationship between the two ethnicities, but the Tocharians, for the most part, did not live in that area, but more towards the Tarim Basin. This is evident in genetic testing that has shown relations between the modern Uyghur peoples and Europeans, which can easily be read about here. So, in short, the Tocharians weren’t related directly to the Afghans, as they are Iranian. For more information on the Iranian migrations, look here. Of course, I am only referring to “descendants” in terms of ancestors with the most effect on the modern population; if we want to go thousands of years back, there is evidence that the entire region of the Indian subcontinent was inhabited by peoples who shared a common, non-Indo-European genetic background. If you go back far enough, the Afghans becone Proto-Indo-Europeans, people of the Indus Valley Civilization, and the inhabitants of the BMAC, but on the other hand we all have diverse ancestral backgrounds, some untraceable, within us. I hope this has given some clarification about what I was trying to say.
I have green eyes. What you see in my eyes is not the same thing that scientists see in them. The current thought behind green eyes is that a thin layer of yellow pigmentation overlays the "blue" color of an iris, and the result is a yellow color.
The gene responsible for this yellow pigmentation is completely separate from the brown/blue gene; thus, to have green eyes, one must have a low concentration of melanin in the iris and produce the yellow pigment.
Here is a chart that demonstrates how melanin in the front and back epithelia of the iris and the structure of the stroma create eye color. You will notice that the specific combination which is required for green eyes is more complicated.
Of course, we're talking about gene networks here so in reality this isn't cut and dry as I made it sound. If it was, there were be a higher percentage of the population with green eyes.
Eye color is complicated than many may think and the combination required to be born with green eyes is rare. And it has been an area of study for scientist for decades. A lot of people tend to tell me it is because of X or Y, but they are just using layman's terms to try and explain something that they are ignorant about. In other words, anyone who says they know definitively isn't being completely insightful or in other cases honest.
Eye color is highly polygenic and not entirely understood.
A lot of genetics is not as simple as Mendel's pea experiments might lead you to think. Mendel figured the basics out mostly because he picked traits that have distinct, qualitative phenotypes that were only controlled by the expression of a single gene.
This tends to be the exception rather than the rule, but it's still taught in schools because it provides a clear simplified way of explaining the mechanism of why traits are passed on or not.
It is more likely that many different genes play a role in determining eye color (which is a spectrum of colors really, not just "green" or "blue"). While some of the Brown vs. Blue in European populations genes have been worked out (OCA2), the mixtures that make up intermediaries are not entirely clear. What would start off as a binary state becomes very messy when you start adding in 11 other SNPs with incomplete penetrance and variable dominance terms.
As for the rarity, that's just simple population genetics.
The alleles for green eyes, whatever their nature, are simply less common in European and Middle Eastern populations than brown or blue. Hence, they are less likely to be observed.
Since eye color is usually not selected for or against when people choose whom they wish to mate with, the frequency of the "green allele" remains more or less the same. Though I did have a boyfriend tell me once that he was only together with me because of my eye color. That sort of creeped me out and I dumped him a week or so later.