Signs & Portents
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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, June 2
Geneticists and physicians consider the mutability of the gender binary. An ancient beer recipe is uncovered in China. And the writer of the hit sci-fi book The Martian talks about priorities for human space travel. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
Although we tend to think of biological sex and gender as the same thing, they aren't. Nor do either operate along a single, easily defined binary as is often assumed. Few know that better than Eric Vilain, a geneticist who pioneered research into intersex individuals. But even Vilain, as it turns out, has room to learn.
Stars are ancient, massive, and ethereal to human eyes. But even stars aren't immortal; they're born and they die just like living beings. Over at his blog for Slate, astronomer Phil Plait examines one location where stars are born, a region he describes as a "cold blue ribbon."
It probably goes without saying that a lot of people love alcohol. And many in particular love beer. But just how back does humanity's love for fermented cereal grains go back? Pretty far it would seem. Archaeologists recently uncovered an ancient beer recipe from China that's at least 4,900 years old.
Genetically modified organisms are a fairly controversial aspect to modern agriculture and with the development of the new technique CRISPR they're unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. But what's the truth about GMOs? Fairly nuanced, says Nathanael Johnson, writing for the environmental website Grist.
What should we prioritize when it comes to human space exploration? Should we focus on going back to the Moon? Going to Mars? Should we put efforts into artificial gravity or developing new engines? Sci-fi author Andy Weir, the writer of the popular book The Martian, recently offered his thoughts.
Top image by International Rice Research Institute
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