We so often take for granted the color of our eyes. Whether our eyes are brown, blue or green, we see this as a cosmetic difference and nothing more. We just assume that those with blue eyes have always been around and populated the world as densely as those with other eye colors. Basically, we just take it for granted. But have you ever wondered why our eyes have different colors?
It may surprise you to know that the human race all started out with the same eye color, brown. The differences in eye color came from variances, and in some extremes, such as the color blue, a single mutation was involved.
According to a study, everyone with blue eyes has the exact same ancestor from over 7 thousand years ago, who was born somewhere in the black sea region with the mutation.
Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen states, “A genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch,” which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes.”
Professor Eiberg, through exhaustive study from the year 1996, traveled to areas of the world like Turkey, Jordan and Denmark, to study the eye color blue. Through this study of the mitochondrial DNA, the professor discovered the location of the gene for eye color.
The OCA2 gene is programmed to produce melanin, which is responsible for hair and skin color, as well as eye color. The “switch” is located adjacent to the OCA2 gene and actually only inhibits the melanin producing abilities to a small extent, thus creating the blue eyes instead of an area completely void of melanin.
When melanin is completely absent, the human being experiences albino characteristics.
Taking a closer look at this process enables us to understand why the eye color blue is derived from one ancestor. Since this eye color comes from an exact variance in melanin, it is considered to be a marker passed from a single ancestor. In individuals with green or hazel eyes, the color variances are more random in change and cannot be pinned down to a single occurrence.
The eye color blue did indeed originate from one genetic mutation. However, there are no indications that the differences in our eye color have anything to do with our health or performance in life. In the past, these genes played no part in our ability to survive, unless it was derived from fear or dislike by others.
No matter what our blue-eyed ancestor had to endure, it is clear that the mutation survived and proves just how incredible nature is at shuffling our genes to create something entirely different, and just as beautiful.
Authorities Using Facial Recognition, Social Media, GPS Tracking to Locate Rioters
After rioters flooded the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, there was an immediate call for those who overran officers on the scene and swarmed the House and Senate floors, as well as congressional members’ personal offices, to be identified, arrested and prosecuted. The coordinated law enforcement response to this incident is massive.
As researchers who study criminal justice, we see that law enforcement agencies are accessing large amounts of information via technological sources to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol building. High-definition security cameras, facial recognition technology, location services acquired from cellphones and third-party apps, and accessing archival evidence on social media are all used to identify perpetrators of crimes and tie them to specific places and times.
While watchdog groups have raised legitimate concerns about the use of government and private-sector surveillance technology to identify people who might commit violent acts at some future point, there is much less concern raised about the use of technology to identify, arrest and prosecute individuals once these crimes have occurred.
Facial Recognition Technology
In the days since the breaching of the Capitol, information has flowed continuously to law enforcement with names and/or images of suspected participants in the unrest. Facial recognition technology can be used to compare images obtained by law enforcement – particularly those images taken from the network of security cameras within and outside the Capitol complex – to positively identify persons of interest.
Facial recognition systems work by matching a face in a video or photo with a face in a database that is associated with a person’s name and other identifying information. Beyond using public records, law enforcement agencies have been turning to private companies to access large databases of identified faces. A growing body of evidence shows the large amount of data some companies have been collecting from social media and other publicly available sources, as well as from CCTV systems in public spaces around the globe. Law enforcement agencies can simply purchase the services of these companies.
The technology exists to identify individuals participating in violent encounters in public spaces in real time using the soon-to-be-completed national ID database. This could result in some extremist groups going off the grid to avoid identification.
Sourcing Information From Social Media
Investigators are being aided by many of the participants in the events of Jan. 6 themselves who posted accounts of their activities on social networks. In addition to the participants who breached the barricades of the Capitol, many bystanders documented the happenings. Social media companies are assisting law enforcement in accessing content that may be useful to locate and prosecute specific individuals.
Some of the earliest subjects who were arrested after the events of Jan. 6 were previously known to law enforcement agencies around the nation, their involvement confirmed by social media postings. Reports have emerged that individuals and groups already under surveillance by law enforcement agencies nationwide via their activity on social media, including suspected white supremacists on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist, were contacted by officers before the individuals traveled to Washington to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally.
Information from social media is also assisting authorities in determining the extent of planning among individuals and groups that were involved.
There is some disagreement within the law enforcement community about the pros and cons of restricting the ability of extremists to communicate on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Parler. The benefit of restricting extremists’ access is hindering communication in the hopes of preventing similar attacks. There is emerging evidence that extremist groups are moving their social media conversations to password-protected sites and to the darknet, where an individual’s anonymity is protected. This migration might hinder extremist groups in recruiting and propaganda efforts, but it’s not clear if it has an effect on the groups’ organizing.
The downside of driving extremists to less-visible online platforms is that it makes it difficult for law enforcement to gather information needed to bring cases against those who participate in criminal incidents. Their virtual footprints become harder to follow.
Identifying a person – particularly someone not previously known to law enforcement – is just one piece of evidence needed to issue an arrest warrant. Empirical information that puts the suspect at the location of a crime when that crime occurred often provides the corroboration courts need to issue a warrant.
The vast majority of participants in the Capitol unrest carried mobile devices with them and had them powered on, which makes it possible for law enforcement agencies to determine the movements of the cellphone’s owner. Even if users have location services, cellular data and Wi-Fi disabled, law enforcement has access to technology that can determine the location of a device at a specified time.
But location data is useful only when coupled with other evidence of a subject’s involvement in a criminal incident, such as photos and video. For instance, it is doubtful whether simply being in the vicinity of the Capitol during the unrest is sufficient. Location data may not be precise enough to discern whether a device was on someone’s person behind previously established barricades outside the Capitol building or if that device was inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s private office, particularly with thousands of mobile devices clustered in one small geographic space inside structures that can obscure signals.
Tips From the Public
One aspect of criminal investigations that has not changed with the rise of technological surveillance is the value of information provided by eyewitnesses and associates of individuals suspected of perpetrating crimes. In the days since the storming of the Capitol, many tips have come into law enforcement from friends, relatives, ex-spouses, neighbors, co-workers and others who indicated they either saw images of someone they knew participating in the unrest on television or on social media, heard them boast of their exploits or heard from a third-party that they had participated.
The FBI, especially, took advantage of the constant media attention on the unrest at the Capitol to ask the public for tips and information, and had established a hotline to gather this information within hours of the incident. It certainly helps criminal investigations when perpetrators are willing to be recorded and photographed, and when they provide their names, ages and hometowns to reporters.
Technology expands the reach of law enforcement investigations, and, combined with tips from the public, makes it more difficult for participants in mob actions to become lost in the crowd. However, these technologies raise the question of whether they can and should be used in the future to prevent these types of large-scale violent incidents from occurring in the first place.
Republished from TheConversation.com under Creative Commons
Elon Musk Says Cryptocurrency Will Be Used On Mars
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that any future economy on Mars will likely be cryptocurrency-based.
The tech billionaire, who is also one of the co-founders of online payments giant PayPal which originally strived for a system like Bitcoin, has said in the past that he hopes to send the first humans to Mars as early 2024, with the ultimate aim of setting up a “self-sustaining city on Mars as soon as possible”.
Now, while responding to a Twitter thread started by AI researcher Lex Fridman, Musk stated that a “Mars economy will run on crypto”, suggesting it could be with the novelty cryptocurrency dogecoin which made him the unofficial CEO or a crypto asset named Marscoin.
Although Musk may have been making a joke, the Marscoin project actually exists. Marscoin was founded in 2014 and saw a brief surge in popularity during the cryptocurrency market bull run in late 2017 but its volume has died down. The altcoin currently has a market cap of less than $100,000, according to CoinMarketCap at the time of this report.
In comparison Dogecoin started as a meme is currently sitting at a market cap of $580,928,809 according to Coingecko.
Dogecoin, the project that Musk is the former CEO of, could be a more likely candidate to use. This is given its popularity and that it shares many of the same decentralized properties as Bitcoin.
The SpaceX founder has regularly spoken about his life goal to travel to Mars and earlier this year ordered employees to accelerate the development of the next-generation rocket.
SpaceX has previously stated that it would not recognize international law on Mars, instead, they said they would set up “self-governing principles”.
According to the Terms of Service of SpaceX’s Starlink internet project that TMU reported on, any future settlements on the Red Planet would “recognize Mars as a free planet”, adding that “no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.”
The terms stated: “Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.” Interestingly enough, this is something that could be achieved through blockchain technology and smart contracts.
“It would be people voting directly on issues,” Musk previously said in a 2016 interview. “The potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy.”
Report: Electric Cars Could Be Cheaper Than Gas Cars in Just 2 Years
According to a new report by energy research firm BloombergNEF, electric cars are getting cheaper and cheaper each passing year. The research firm found that in just two to three years, electric cars are on track to become cheaper than gasoline-powered vehicles.
According to the report, the market average for Lithium-ion batteries will become just $101 per kWh by 2023. This means that the overall price of the electric vehicle will go down, as the most expensive part of these cars is the battery pack itself.
The report states that Lithium-ion battery pack prices were above $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010. However, they have since gone way down in price as much as 89% in real terms to $137/kWh in 2020.
A survey by BNEF’s 2020 Battery Price Survey, which considers passenger EVs, e-buses, commercial EVs and stationary storage, foretells that by 2023 the average pack price for the batteries will be $101/kWh. The report says that “its at around this price point where automakers should be able to produce and sell mass market EVs at the same price as internal combustion vehicles in some markets.”
The researchers concluded that the prices of electric cars have dropped considerably this year due to “increasing order sizes, growth in [battery electric vehicle] sales and the introduction of new pack designs,” according to the report. New technologies and falling manufacturing costs, it predicts, could drive prices down even lower.
There’s also the chance that next-generation solid-state batteries “could be manufactured at 40% of the cost of current lithium-ion batteries,” according to the report, “when produced at scale.”
The report further predicts that the average prices of battery packs could become as cheap as just $58 per kWh by 2030 if these new solid state batteries were to be utilized resulted from lower manufacturing cost.
James Frith, BNEF’s head of energy storage research and lead author of the report, stated: “It is a historic milestone to see pack prices of less than $100/kWh reported. Within just a few years we will see the average price in the industry pass this point. What’s more, our analysis shows that even if prices for raw materials were to return to the highs seen in 2018, it would only delay average prices reaching $100/kWh by two years – rather than completely derailing the industry. The industry is becoming increasingly resilient to changing raw material prices, with leading battery manufacturers moving up the value chain and investing in cathode production or even mines.”
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