From the tiny microbes we carry in our gut to the electrical pathways that ferry information via our brains, the human body remains a mystery to scientists, but every year, scientists are discovering a little more about what motivates us. The fastest acceleration in the human body to discover that there are universal sounds that all humans, regardless of language, understand. Here are the coolest things we learned about human in 2021.
OUR GENOME IS NOT “UNIQUELY HUMAN”
How much of our genome is unique to modern humans? It turns out that very little, less than 10 percent, according to a study published on July 16 in the journal Science Advances; the rest is shared with extinct human relatives such as Neanderthals. To solve this, the researchers developed a novel algorithm to analyze 279 modern human genomes (Homo sapiens), two Neanderthal genomes, and one Denisovan genome (Denisovans are another extinct group of hominids). They found that only 1.5 percent to 7 percent of the human genome is unique to Homo sapiens, which means that it was neither shared with other homo species nor appeared in our DNA as a result of interbreeding.
THE VACUUM OF SPACE WOULD NOT BE KIND TO THE HUMAN BODY
This year a question was asked, what would happen to a person in the vacuum of space if they were not wearing a spacesuit? Experts said that the person would not suddenly explode or freeze to death, but would eventually do both things. The person would likely die in minutes, not seconds; their body fluids would boil and their nose and mouth would freeze. Space is a vacuum, so there is no atmospheric pressure, which significantly lowers the boiling points of liquids. “The 60 percent of the human body is made up of water, which is a serious problem, “said Dr. Kris Lehnhardt, an element scientist for NASA’s Human Research Program.
CORONAVIRUSES SHAPED HUMAN EVOLUTION
Dangerous viruses have been around for a long time. An ancient coronavirus, for instance, could have infected the ancestors of people living in modern-day East Asia as long as 25,000 years ago, according to a study published in journal Current Biology in August, “There always been viruses infecting human populations,” said the study’s lead author, David Enard, assistant professor of ecology and science Evolution at the University of Arizona. “Viruses are really one of the main drivers of natural selection in the human genome.”
Genes that increase the chances of survival of pathogens are more likely to be passed on to future generations; In fact, the researchers found that people of East Asian descent had certain gene variants more frequently than one might expect. These variants likely helped the ancestors of this population become more resistant to the virus.
SHERLOCK HOLMES’ MEMORY TRICK WORKS!
Sherlock Holmes’ famous memory trick really works, as shown by a study published in the journal Science Advances in March. The famous detective remembers everything by imagining himself storing information in a “memory palace” a mnemonic technique that Greece has its origins in antiquity. The technique known as the “method of loci” involves mentally moving around a familiar place and dropping some information along the way; later you mentally retrace your steps and “collects” that information again. To evaluate the Loci method, a group of researchers recruited both “memory athletes” or champions who ranked in the top 50 in the world in memory competitions, as well as ordinary people. As expected, the participants who trained with the Loci method showed better results and a longer lasting memory than those who trained with a different memory technique or no technique at all. In particular, the participants showed an increase in durable memory, but no significant change in short-term memory.
YOUR PUPILS CAN COUNT
Pupils have many skills which now includes counting. According to a study published on October 12 in the journal Nature Communications, the size of people’s pupil changes depending on the number of objects they see around them. To figure this out, the team measured people’s pupil sizes while looking at points on a monitor in a dark, quiet room. The images contained 18 or 24 points, and each point was alone or grouped with a small line. The pupil size of the participants changed depending on how many points they had perceived; when participants perceived a greater number of dots, their pupils expanded, and when participants perceived a smaller number of dots, their pupils constricted.