Amazon.com Widgets
James Frey Official Website
Join the JAMES FREY mailing list
Click

Lechon In Cebu

from GMA News

Best-selling YA author enjoys lechon, beaches in Cebu during signing tour

James Frey, also known as “Pittacus Lore” when writing the young adult Lorien Legacies series, is in the Philippines to meet fans of his new YA book “Endgame: The Calling.” And one of his tour stops is in Cebu, where he is currently enjoying some downtime.

Apart from a few photos of a few locals he met and befriended, Frey took some time to sample the famous lechon.

[ click to continue reading at GMA News ]

Posted on January 31, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Projects | | No Comments »

Rod McKuen Gone

from The New York Times

Rod McKuen, Poet and Lyricist With Vast Following, Dies at 81

Rod McKuen, a ubiquitous poet, lyricist and songwriter whose work met with immense commercial success if little critical esteem, died on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 81.

Mr. McKuen, whom The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture described as having been, at his height, “the unofficial poet laureate of America,” was the author of dozens of books of poetry, which together sold millions of copies.

For a generation of Americans at midcentury and afterward, Mr. McKuen’s poetry formed an enduring, solidly constructed bridge between the Beat generation and New Age sensibilities. Ranging over themes of love and loss, the natural world and spirituality, his work was prized by readers for its gentle accessibility while being condemned by many critics as facile, tepid and aphoristic.

Mr. McKuen’s output was as varied as it was vast, spanning song lyrics, including English-language adaptations (“Seasons in the Sun”) of works by his idol, Jacques Brel; music and lyrics, as for “Jean,” from the 1969 film “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination; and musical scores, including that of the 1973 television film “Lisa, Bright and Dark.” He also appeared as a singer on television, on many recordings and in live performance.

“What McKuen guarantees is that a certain California sexual daydreaming can be yours for the asking even if you do move your lips rapidly as you read,” Louis Cox sniped in The New Republic in 1971.

[ click to read full obit at NYTimes.com ]

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Literary News | | No Comments »

Death Valley Bar Fight With Geezer Butler

fr0m The LA Times

Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley bar fight

Geezer ButlerGeezer Butler of Black Sabbath, left, was arrested following a bar fight in Death Valley. (Dan Steinberg / Invision / Associated Press)

By 

Geezer Butler, the longtime Black Sabbath bassist, allegedly has a knack for bashing listeners offstage as well.

The 65-year-old Terence Michael Butler was arrested Tuesday on charges of misdemeanor assault, intoxication and vandalism at the Corkscrew Saloon in Death Valley National Park.

According to BBC reports, Inyo County police said that an argument at the bar involving Butler quickly escalated into a physical confrontation. Police arrived shortly after midnight and reported a broken window and one person struck during the altercation.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on January 29, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Asteroid Moon

from Yahoo! News

Big asteroid that skimmed Earth has its own moon: NASA

Miami (AFP) – An unusually large asteroid that just skimmed by Earth had its own moon, NASA said Tuesday as the US space agency released its first radar images of the flyby.

The asteroid known as 2004 BL86 made its closest approach late Monday at a distance about three times further than Earth’s own Moon.

Radar images from NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California show that the asteroid itself was about 500 feet (150 meters) smaller than expected, and measured about 1,100 feet (325 meters) across.

The asteroid’s small moon was approximately 230 feet (70 meters) across.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

From James Frey to The Imitation Game

from Independent.ie

Television Review: A million little works of fiction

Illustration: Jim CoganIllustration: Jim Cogan

‘Based on a true story” ….”Inspired by actual events”…automatically these words on the opening credits lend an extra frisson to a film or a TV series. But to arrive at some understanding of this fiendishly tricky subject, we should probably start with a book, A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey.

It was a book about alcohol addiction which was offered to various publishers as a work of fiction, and rejected. It was eventually published as “non-fiction” and it sold millions, driven by an endorsement from Oprah – who then had to haul the author back to berate him like a bold boy for misleading her and the American people, when it emerged that several parts of the book were exaggerated or just invented.

Frey was in no position to argue, but I would argue on his behalf that he was to some extent the victim of an industry which had lost its confidence, which was dumbing down. That he had written a powerful novel, but that it needed this fake stamp of authenticity – “it all really happened, you know” – to get it on Oprah.

So I think there is more to this “based on a true story” racket than issues of artistic licence, and of where exactly you draw the line between fiction and non-fiction and all that. There is also at times an element of cynicism, of declaring that a story is true and then making it up anyway, a bit like the events recalled in Charlie when they were putting bogus stamps on the beef to Iraq.

Charlie itself was not motivated by any of that dark stuff, but the arguments that blew up around it are being replicated all over the free world – The Imitation Game, the biopic of the code-breaking genius Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is accused of taking horrible liberties, of misrepresenting really important parts of Turing’s story, and of actually making the man more unloveable than he was.

[ click to continue reading at Independent.ie ]

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Literary News | | No Comments »

The $1.5 Million Potato

from The Sydney Morning Herald

Kevin Abosch sells photograph of potato for $1.5 million

by 

The Kevin Abosch photo <em>Potato #345</em> which has sold for $1.5 million.The Kevin Abosch photo Potato #345 which has sold for $1.5 million. Photo: Kevin Abosch

The chips certainly aren’t down for photographer Kevin Abosch.

He recently sold this photograph of a potato for £750,000 ($1.5 million). Really.

It should be noted that it’s an organic spud, from the spiritual home of the potato, Ireland, so you’d expect it to be a bit pricier per kilogram than the dirt-cheap variety.

But even Abosch, better known for taking portraits of celebrities including Johnny Depp, Bob Geldoff and Steven Spielberg, acknowledges that some might find the price tag for the photograph, entitled Potato #345, a little “absurd”.

Abosch’s explanation of how the sale came about suggests wine might have had something to do with the transaction.

Abosch, who is based in France and Ireland, was having dinner with an unnamed European businessman at his home when his guest saw the photograph hanging on the wall, The Sunday Times in London reported.

Abosch had photographed the potato in 2010, after it was delivered to his home in a batch of organic vegetables.

“We had two glasses of wine and he [the businessman] said, ‘I really like that.’ Two more glasses of wine and he said: ‘I really want that,’ ” Abosch said

“We set the price two weeks later. It is the most I have been paid for a piece of work that has been bought [rather than commissioned].”

[ click to continue reading at SMH ]

Posted on January 25, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Full Fathom Five’s Samantha Streger on YA Publishing

from Adventures in YA Publishing

Editor Samantha Streger of Full Fathom Five Digital

Today I have a very special guest to introduce. My editor, the lovely Samantha Streger! The best news? FFF Digital is open to submissions (including YA) Read below to find out more about Samantha and the company. 

Samantha Streger is the Publisher of Full Fathom Five Digital, where she has the badass job of publishing and promoting commercial books. Before joining FFF, she was Associate Editor in the teen & children’s department at Open Road Integrated Media, so ebooks are her forte. She also holds a publishing certificate from NYU and previously worked at Disney Publishing Worldwide and the Wallace Literary Agency. When she’s not reading and editing, Samantha can be found watching “Vampire Diaries” and re-runs of “The Office,” and trying to quit the gym.

1. How did you decide to become an editor?

I wanted to be an editor since the third grade. Of course, at the time, I thought being an editor was the same thing as being a copyeditor or proofreader, fixing typos and perfecting grammar! I was a stickler for mistakes. When I learned more about content editing, though, I found it even more interesting to give creative input. Even though I don’t have a large opportunity to edit these days, I keep taking on projects because of how much I enjoy being involved in the artistic process.

2. What are some of your favorite YA/children’s books?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine—the best Cinderella.  The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce is one of those series that forever changed me as a person. And I’m not ashamed to say that I love Harry Potter. (And I trusted Snape all along.)

3. What are some things NOT to do when submitting work?

Do not describe your book as containing “the marketability of Harry Potter with the mystery and intrigue of the Hunger Games.” Yes, that’s a real pitch letter I’ve received. Comparing your book to the most popular mainstream titles of the day digs a hole of expectation it’s almost impossible to crawl out of.

4. What title are you most proud of and how did you find the author? Besides myself of course! LOL

I am incredibly proud of my first acquisition for FFFDig: The Apartment Novels by Amanda Black (an adult romance series). I was a fan of Amanda’s stories when they were originally published online for free, and for years I’d dreamed of acquiring and publishing one of the amazingly talented fanfiction authors whose work I admired. I reached out to her on my first day at Full Fathom Five Digital; she had just begun the process of sending the manuscript out to agents. It was meant to be!

5. What is more important: character, plot, or world? 

Character. Particularly in YA / coming-of-age novels, there’s nothing better than the emotions evoked by a characters reactions and misperceptions. An incredible world and a strong plot is useless without characters to care about.

[ click to continue reading at Adventures in YA Publishing ]]

Posted on January 23, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Literary News | | No Comments »

Your Lightbulbs Are Watching You

from The New York Times

How Pink Is Your Floyd?

The Rise of the Smartbulb

Posted on January 22, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

100 Robi

from Mashable

100 humanoid robots perform synchronized dance routine in Tokyo

One hundred humanoid robots performed a synchronized dance routine in Tokyo on Monday. Each of the one hundred ‘Robi’ robots weighs just 2.2 pounds and stands just a little over a foot tall.

The ‘100 Robi’ project is the brainchild of Tomotaka Takahashi of Tokyo University. The synchronized dance lasted three minutes and went off without a hitch.

[ click to continue reading at Mashable ]

Posted on January 21, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Konnichi wa, CommU – Konnichi wa, Sota

from TechWorld

Japanese androids hold news conference, chat with baby droids

The female robots introduced a pair of tabletop conversation robots, CommU and Sota

by Tim Hornyak (IDG News Service)

If you find lifelike robots unnerving, try attending a news conference held by a pair of androids.

That was the scene on Tuesday in Tokyo when the androids Kodomoroid and Otonaroid introduced a new pair of communication robots developed by an Osaka-based company, Vstone, and its partners.

Sota and CommU, each about 30cm tall, engaged in dialog with their full-sized counterparts at the Miraikan technology museum as journalists looked on, entranced. The smaller, tabletop droids can only move their arms and upper bodies, but spoke in cute Japanese resembling the speech of a toddler.

“We’re good at natural dialog and that’s tough to do,” CommU, which looks like a baby, told Otonaroid, a hyper-realistic robot “woman.” The exchange was like a cybernetic mother and child, evoking both the lifelike “replicant” androids and the sentient toys in the 1982 science fiction film “Blade Runner.”

[ click to continue reading at TechWorld ]

Posted on January 20, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »

James Frey Visits Philippines

from G/ST

JAMES FREY VISITS PHL FOR A BOOK SIGNING TOUR

James Frey book signing

WHAT: James Frey book signing tour
WHEN: January 31 and February 1
WHERE: National Bookstore Cebu and Manila
ABOUT: facebook.com/pages/National-Book-Store

[ click to view at G/ST ]

Posted on January 19, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Bright Shiny News, Literary News, Projects | | No Comments »

Bullshit 451

from The LA Times

Bulldoze first, apologize later: a true L.A. landmark

by Christopher Hawthorne

The razing of Ray Bradbury’s home and a reprieve for Norms are the latest reminders of L.A.’s fuzzy historic preservation logicArchitect Thom Mayne, new owner of the late Ray Bradbury’s home, says he plans to build a wall on the property that will pay tribute to the writer. (Byron Espinoza)

It was beginning to feel like a demolition derby.

On Tuesday, word started to spread that the canary-yellow 1937 house in Cheviot Hills where the writer Ray Bradbury lived for more than 50 years was being knocked down.

The person razing it to make room for a new house on the site was the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, whose firm Morphosis designed the Caltrans headquarters in downtown L.A. and a new campus for Emerson College in Hollywood, among other prominent buildings.

The next day, the preservation group Los Angeles Conservancy added an alert to its website that the new owner of the 1957 Norms restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard, a time capsule of the space-age L.A. coffee-shop style known as Googie, had been granted a demolition permit on Jan. 5.

By week’s end, Googie fans at least could breathe a sigh of relief. At a Thursday hearing on Norms at the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, an attorney for the owner said that there were “no current plans to demolish the property.” The commission voted to consider the building for cultural-monument status, protecting it for at least 75 days.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Literary News, Weirdness | | No Comments »

Drone-hunting Drones

from The Telegraph

Being pestered by drones? Buy a drone-hunting drone

Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses ‘tangle-lines’ to quickly down its prey

by  – Deputy Head of Technology

With drone sales soaring it’s inevitable that new and nefarious applications for them will emerge. Never has a technology emerged which someone, somewhere has failed to find an annoying or illegal use for.

There have already been several cases of celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Rihanna having their privacy invaded by paparazzi drone pilots hovering overhear and snapping away on a remote-controlled camera.

One was even said to have disrupted Tina Turner’s wedding.

But even non-celebrities may not appreciate having the whirring aircraft flying near their homes or places of business.

Enter the Rapere, a prototype drone-hunting drone which can down other tiny unmanned aircraft by entangling special string in their rotors.

A group claiming to be “commercial drone developers” have created the machine which can automatically identify drones, hover above them and release a “tangle-line” that falls into their rotors and causes it to crash. It will then return to its base station for recharging and re-arming.

[ click to continue reading at The Telegraph ]

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

The Super Bull

from The Wall Street Journal

A Breeder Apart: Farmers Say Goodbye to the Bull Who Sired 500,000 Offspring

Fans Commemorate ‘Toystory,’ a Dairy Legend With a Ravenous Libido

Toystory, a Wisconsin bull who set a record for semen production, was 2,700 pounds and sired an estimated 500,000 offspring. The famed bull died on Thanksgiving.Toystory, a Wisconsin bull who set a record for semen production, was 2,700 pounds and sired an estimated 500,000 offspring. The famed bull died on Thanksgiving. GENEX

by MARK PETERS and ILAN BRAT

SHAWANO, Wis.—Atop a wooded hill here in the heart of America’s Dairyland, an industry legend was recently laid to rest.

It wasn’t some milk magnate or a famed innovator, but an ornery, 2,700-pound bull named Toystory—a titan of artificial insemination who sired an estimated 500,000 offspring in more than 50 countries.

“He was a dream bull,” said Jan Hessel Bierma, editor in chief of dairy-breeding magazine Holstein International.

In the increasingly high-tech world of cow reproduction, a top bull’s career tends to last just a few years as farmers chase better genetics to boost milk output and animal durability, playing a numbers game not unlike a Major League Baseball manager.

Rare is the bull with the genes and testicular fortitude to sell a million units of semen, known among breeders as the millionaires club.

Over nearly a decade, Toystory shattered the record for sales of the slender straws that hold about 1/20th of a teaspoon and are shipped using liquid nitrogen to farmers around the world. A unit fetches anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ.com ]

Posted on January 15, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Mirth | | No Comments »

Free El Capitan

from The Washington Post

2 men reach top of Yosemite’s El Capitan in historic climb

By Associated Press

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — A pair of Americans on Wednesday completed what had long been considered the world’s most difficult rock climb, using only their hands and feet to conquer a 3,000-foot vertical wall on El Capitan, the forbidding granite pedestal in Yosemite National Park that has beckoned adventurers for more than half a century.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first to “free-climb” the rock formation’s Dawn Wall, a feat that many had considered impossible. They used ropes and safety harnesses to catch them in case of a fall, but relied entirely on their own strength and dexterity to ascend by grasping cracks as thin as razor blades and as small as dimes.

The effort took weeks, as the two dealt with constant falls and injuries. But their success completes a years-long dream that bordered on obsession for the men.

The trek up the world’s largest granite monolith began Dec. 27. Caldwell and Jorgeson lived on the wall itself. They ate and slept in tents fastened to the rock thousands of feet above the ground and battled painful cuts to their fingertips much of the way.

[ click to continue reading at WaPo.com ]

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »

Glenn Horowitz Goes To Manhattan

from The New York Observer

Glenn Horowitz Bookseller to Open New Midtown Gallery With Photos of Giacometti

By 

Glenn Horowitz. (Jill Krementz)Glenn Horowitz photographed by Jill Krementz on January 11, 2015 in his Manhattan apartment on Central Park South.

This week, Glenn Horowitz Bookseller will open its new Manhattan gallery space Rare, along with the inaugural exhibition. Located on West 54th Street, across the street from MoMA’s sculpture garden, the 1,000-square-foot gallery will showcase first editions, manuscripts, letters, archival materials, fine art, and decorative arts spanning the 19th century to contemporary. Its first exhibition, titled “Matter/Giacometti,” opens this Thursday, January 15 (with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.) and will examine Swiss designer and photographer Herbert Matter’s book of the same title.

The book is an intimate portrait of the (also) Swiss artist whose signature tall, thin, figurative sculptures (the results of years of experimentations with movements like abstraction and surrealism) have become famous worldwide. But Matter’s book is a highly personal project that took 25 years to create, published after his death in 1986 by his wife.

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on January 13, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Literary News | | No Comments »

Learning About Cuba and Having Some Food – Taylor Negron Gone

from The New York Times

Taylor Negron, of ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ Dies at 57

By 

Taylor Negron, a comedian and actor who described his style as “California Gothic” and who brought a funereal, straight-faced sensibility to a career’s worth of character roles in cult comedies like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “One Crazy Summer,” died on Saturday. He was 57.

His death was announced in an online video posted by a cousin, Chuck Negron of the rock group Three Dog Night. Chuck Negron did not specify the location or the cause, but Variety and other Hollywood trade publications reported that Taylor Negron had cancer.

A Los Angeles native, Mr. Negron used his sharp facial features, piercing eyes and deadpan delivery to commandeer screen roles that were intended to last only a few moments. In “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Amy Heckerling’s celebrated 1982 teenage comedy, he made a lasting impression as a world-weary pizza deliveryman who brings a double cheese and sausage pie to the history class of the surfer dude Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn).

In “Better Off Dead …” (1985), another teenage comedy, he memorably played a careless, judgmental mailman. To other viewers, he was Rodney Dangerfield’s eccentric son-in-law in “Easy Money” (1983), a self-assured stand-up comic in “Punchline” (1988) and an expressive hairdresser in a 1993 episode of “Seinfeld,” among the many roles he played in a 35-year career.

Born Brad Negron on Aug. 1, 1957, Mr. Negron grew up deeply attuned to the morbid undercurrent of Hollywood’s allure.

[ click to continue reading at NYTimes.com ]

Posted on January 12, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

God Bless The Internet Arcade

from Paste Magazine

The Internet Arcade Releases More Than 2,000 MS-DOS Games

By Jeff Pearson

<i>The Internet Arcade</i> Releases More Than 2,000 MS-DOS Games

Back in November of last year, the Internet Archive launched a digital archive of more than 900 famous arcade games to be played for free online, titled the Internet Arcade. Back-of-the-bar classics such as Astro Blaster and Street Fighter 2 are only a fraction of the many hours to be killed browsing through their collection, and the Internet Arcade evidently wasn’t done.

Now, in addition to the massive collection of arcade games, the Internet Arcade has added an even more massive collection of MS-DOS computer games, with 2,400 titles to be downloaded or streamed for free.

[ click to continue reading at PasteMagazine.com ]

Posted on January 10, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

“It’s definitely not a normal book.”

from New Canaan News

Novel experience: Hit the jackpot by tracking down clues in James Frey’s new book

Meg Barone

Bestselling author James Frey speaks about his new book, ìEndgame: The Calling,î to a hometown crowd at the New Canaan Library. Photo: Meg Barone / New Canaan NewsBestselling author James Frey speaks about his new book, ìEndgame: The Calling,î to a hometown crowd at the New Canaan Library. Photo: Meg Barone

Authors of the latest entry into the literary dystopian adventure take readers beyond the pages of their book and into a ground-breaking multi-platform reading experience and worldwide search for the key to a cash jackpot.

James Frey, a New Canaan resident and bestselling author of “A Million Little Pieces” and other works, partnered with Nils Johnson-Shelton to write “Endgame: The Calling,” the first of a trilogy, which was published in October.

During an informal presentation and casual conversation Wednesday with about 100 people at the New Canaan Library, Frey talked about his creative process, the inspiration for his latest books, and revealed that even he does not know the answer to its puzzles. The authors’ invite readers to follow the adventures of 12 teens as catastrophic events lead them on a global quest in search of three ancient keys that will save not only their bloodlines but the world. Readers must find the clues hidden within the stories to solve the puzzles.

The first person to find the key for the first book will win $500,000 in American eagle gold coins, currently held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The monetary worth of the prize increases with each book in the series to $1 million with the second novel and finally to $1.5 million with the third.

“It’s definitely not a normal book,” Frey said.

“It’s breaking from the rest of the pack and incorporating the reader,” said Shafer Jones, 15, of New Canaan, who sat in the front row with his family. Frey apologized to Jones and his family for his use of the “F” word in his remarks — and then continued to use it.

[ click to continue reading at New Canaan News ]

Posted on January 9, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Literary News, Projects | | No Comments »

Improbably Evolution

from Nautilus

The Strange Inevitability of Evolution

Good solutions to biology’s problems are astonishingly plentiful.

Ball_BREAKER-4

BY PHILIP BALL / ILLUSTRATION BY JON HAN

Is the natural world creative? Just take a look around it. Look at the brilliant plumage of tropical birds, the diverse pattern and shape of leaves, the cunning stratagems of microbes, the dazzling profusion of climbing, crawling, flying, swimming things. Look at the “grandeur” of life, the “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful,” as Darwin put it. Isn’t that enough to persuade you?

Ah, but isn’t all this wonder simply the product of the blind fumbling of Darwinian evolution, that mindless machine which takes random variation and sieves it by natural selection? Well, not quite. You don’t have to be a benighted creationist, nor even a believer in divine providence, to argue that Darwin’s astonishing theory doesn’t fully explain why nature is so marvelously, endlessly inventive. “Darwin’s theory surely is the most important intellectual achievement of his time, perhaps of all time,” says evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner of the University of Zurich. “But the biggest mystery about evolution eluded his theory. And he couldn’t even get close to solving it.”

What Wagner is talking about is how evolution innovates: as he puts it, “how the living world creates.” Natural selection supplies an incredibly powerful way of pruning variation into effective solutions to the challenges of the environment. But it can’t explain where all that variation came from. As the biologist Hugo de Vries wrote in 1905, “natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.” Over the past several years, Wagner and a handful of others have been starting to understand the origins of evolutionary innovation. Thanks to their findings so far, we can now see not only how Darwinian evolution works but why it works: what makes it possible.

A popular misconception is that all it takes for evolution to do something new is a random mutation of a gene—a mistake made as the gene is copied from one generation to the next, say. Most such mutations make things worse—the trait encoded by the gene is less effective for survival—and some are simply fatal. But once in a blue moon (the argument goes) a mutation will enhance the trait, and the greater survival prospects of the lucky recipient will spread that beneficial mutation through the population.

The trouble is that traits don’t in general map so neatly onto genes: They arise from interactions between many genes that regulate one another’s activity in complex networks, or “gene circuits.” No matter, you might think: Evolution has plenty of time, and it will find the “good” gene circuits eventually. But the math says otherwise.

Take, for example, the discovery within the field of evolutionary developmental biology that the different body plans of many complex organisms, including us, arise not from different genes but from different networks of gene interaction and expression in the same basic circuit, called the Hox gene circuit. To get from a snake to a human, you don’t need a bunch of completely different genes, but just a different pattern of wiring in essentially the same kind of Hox gene circuit. For these two vertebrates there are around 40 genes in the circuit. If you take account of the different ways that these genes might regulate one another (for example, by activation or suppression), you find that the number of possible circuits is more than 10700. That’s a lot, lot more than the number of fundamental particles in the observable universe. What, then, are the chances of evolution finding its way blindly to the viable “snake” or “human” traits (or phenotypes) for the Hox gene circuit? How on earth did evolution manage to rewire the Hox network of a Cambrian fish to create us?

[ click to continue reading at Nautil.us ]

Posted on January 8, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | No Comments »

Mystery Balls

from The Daily Mail

Mystery of the glowing orb: Bizarre fireball that splits in two could be a meteorite burning up in Earth’s atmosphere

By RICHARD GRAY FOR MAILONLINE

UFO hunters have claimed the bright orb may have been some sort of escape pod from a crashing ship.

However, others have said it is more likely to have been a meteorite breaking apart in the atmosphere.

There have been several sightings of meteorite fireballs in the US over the past week, with many reports coming from California.

The past couple of days have also seen astronomers enjoying the peak of the annual Quadrantids meteor shower.

The fireball was spotted by Ken Roberts while he was driving home from work in southern California.

He said: ‘I was driving home after work when this UFO or whatever you call it caught my eye.

‘I pulled over in front of somebody’s house to film it. I would have got a better shot but I didn’t want to jump these people’s fence.

‘Anyway I don’t know what the hell to make of it. Couldn’t have been a plane cause there was no noise. And I never heard a crash after either.

‘The Orb thing flew straight up into the sky and disappeared.’

[ click to continue reading about these peculiar orbs at The Daily Mail ]

Posted on January 7, 2015 by Editor

Filed under Weirdness | | No Comments »