Monday 06 January 1997
The Jewish priesthood, the Cohanim, are among the true children of Israel, having genetic distinctions that seem to date back to "a unique evolutionary event" - a DNA insert - 29,000 to 340,000 years ago. Biblical accounts say the Cohanim (separate from rabbis) were established3,300 years ago when the first Israelite high priest was appointed. Membership is passed to male children of priests on their Y chromosome. Genetic testing found only 1.5 per cent of Cohanim had the DNA insert, compared with 18.4 per cent of lay Jews, even among those living as far apart as Israel, the US and UK.
Why is it that obese girls tend to enter puberty earlier than average, and lean female ballet dancers much later? A team from the University of California at San Francisco reckons the answer is the hormone leptin, secreted by fat tissue. They injected leptin into pre-pubertal female mice, and found that they began reproducing before a control group. Conclusion: "that leptin acts as a signal triggering puberty", say the authors in last week's Science, "supporting the hypothesis that fat accumulation enhances maturation of the reproductive tract". So if you want to grow up, put on some weight.
If life existed here 3,800 million years ago, as research in Greenland rocks suggests, Heinrich Holland at Harvard University says that either the destructive effects of meteorite impacts had decreased dramatically before then, or life was invented more than once, or our distant ancestors were truly hardy. Writing in Science, he prefers the first - reckoning that geological evidence points to a planet that had already settled down to its present, "somewhat humdrum existence", offering the relatively stable conditions required to support life.
Happy birthday this year to complex numbers (devised in 1797), the sewing machine and modern flute (1847), the discovery of the mountains of the Moon (1647), of tobacco (1497, by a monk who sailed with Christopher Columbus), and of the electron (1897) by Joseph John Thomson at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Expect celebrations of the latter centenary around March.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Gaza-Israel conflict: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to streets of London, Paris and New York in wave of protests
Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli air strike destroys home for the disabled killing two women residents
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli PM says conflict may 'continue for a long time' as hundreds of Palestinians flee their homes
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
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