Olympic champ tips McLeod for greatness

first_imgDOHA, Qatar:Reigning Olympic 110 metres hurdles champion Aries Merritt believes new kid on the bloc Omar McLeod could go on to become one of the greatest sprint hurdlers ever.McLeod burst on to the international scene last year with a series of impressive performances, ending with a sixth-place finish at the World Championships – his first senior finals.He started out 2016 by winning the 60m World Indoor title, a feat the American Merritt also achieved back in 2012. McLeod also got the better of a very strong field, which included Merritt, David Oliver, and Hansle Parchment to win at his first Diamond League outing in Doha with a world-leading 13.05 seconds.”There are a lot of new age athletes appearing as the old people start to transition out of the sport,” Merritt said. “There is always a new wave of athletes who come around and take their place, and so I think he has the potential to definitely be one of the greatest hurdlers of all time. He is very young, he is very talented, and he just needs to stay healthy and the sky is the limit for him.”At 22 years old, McLeod has a personal best in the 110m hurdles of 12.97 seconds – a time Merritt is impressed with given his age.”I wasn’t running his times when I was his age. I was running like 13.0, so he is already ahead of me at this point of his life,” the 30-year-old Merritt said.HISTORY MADEMcLeod has also impressed in the 100m this year after creating history last month when he dipped below 10 seconds to become the first athlete to run under 10 seconds for the 100m and sub-13 seconds for the 110m hurdles.But while even McLeod admitted to having been stunned by his 9.99 seconds 100m run, Merritt was not.”No, it didn’t catch me by surprise. He has always been quick, and at Arkansas (University), he ran well,” Merritt said. “I feel like sprinting is something that Jamaica does really well. Like, if you are a Jamaican, you are going to be a fast sprinter; it is just in your blood.”Merritt believes the men’s sprint hurdles is as competitive as it has ever been with as many as eight men technically able to run 12.9 seconds. But it is the development of McLeod and 24-year-old Hansle Parchment he will be watching with keen interest.”The sky is definitely the limit for Omar and Hansle. They are both very young; they have both run under 13 seconds way sooner than I did,” Merritt reiterated. “He (McLeod) is not the ideal size for a hurdler, so to speak. Parchment is definitely the ideal size, and so it will be really interesting to see which one of them develops the best in the long run.”As long as Omar is fast, he will always be a good hurdler because the shorter you are, the faster you have to be, and the taller you are, the more technical you have to be.”[email protected]last_img read more

Is Junk DNA Making a Comeback?

first_img(Visited 728 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Evolutionists irritated by ENCODE mount a counterattack, claiming that the majority of human genes are evolutionary leftovers with no function.From 20% junk to 75% junk in only a few years: Why one should be skeptical about even hard scienceby Dr Jerry BergmanA new study claims that 90 to 75 percent of the genome is junk DNA, and that no more than 25 percent of the human genome is functional. In contrast, in 2012 the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project that involved 21 leading international scientists concluded that as much as 80 percent of the genome is functional.[i]A study published in Genome Biology and Evolution Journal, by Dan Graur and Rebecca Moores, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at University of Houston, attempted to determine how much of the genome is functional.[ii] To do this, they compared the deleterious mutation rate and the replacement fertility rates. The problem they identified is the mutation rate has been empirically determined to be close to 2 × 10-8 mutations per nucleotide per generation.Given 3 billion DNA pairs, [2 x 10-8] x [3 x 109] would amount to 60 new mutations introduced for each baby born. This compares with other estimates of around 70 new mutations for each baby born. If each child has about 70 new mutations compared to his or her parents, and this child’s children each have an additional 70 new mutations, the mutation number, especially in humans, will accumulate, eventually leading to mutational meltdown and extinction:Each of us is born with about 70 new genetic errors that our parents did not have. That’s much more than a slime mold, say, or a bacterium. Mutations are likely to decrease an organism’s fitness, and an avalanche like this every generation could be deadly to our species.[iii]Given that genome size and the rate of deleterious mutations in the functional parts of the genome, Graur developed a model to calculate the decrease in reproductive success induced by harmful mutations, known as the “mutational load,” in relation to the portion of the genome that is functional.The functional portion of the genome includes protein-coding genes, RNA-specifying genes and DNA receptors. In his model, mutations in the nonfunctional portions are neutral since damage to functionless parts by definition will not adversely affect health. Because of deleterious mutations, each couple in each generation today must produce close to 2.1 children to maintain a constant population. Over the past 200,000 years, replacement-level fertility rates have ranged from 2.1 to 3.0 children per couple. Global population has remained remarkably stable until the beginning of the 19th century, when decreased mortality in newborns resulted in fertility rates exceeding replacement levels. Graur explained thatFor 80 percent of the human genome to be functional, each couple in the world would have to beget on average 15 children and all but two would have to die or fail to reproduce. If we use the upper bound for the deleterious mutation rate (2 × 10-8 mutations per nucleotide per generation), then … the number of children that each couple would have to have to maintain a constant population size would exceed the number of stars in the visible universe by ten orders of magnitude.[iv]In short, he concluded that 80 percent of the genome could not be functional because if that were so, humans would have been extinct long ago.[i] An Integrated Encyclopedia of DNA Elements in the Human Genome. Nature. 2012 Sep 6; 489(7414): 57–74.[ii] Dan Graur. An upper limit on the functional fraction of the human genome. Genome Biology and Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evx121.[iii] Greenwood, 2017.[iv] Jeannie Kever. 2017. New limits to functional portion of human genome reported; Work suggests at least 75 percent of the genome is junk DNA. Science Daily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170714140234.htmTwo problems with his conclusion are his deep time assumption based on Darwinism, and the assumption that the mutation rate observed today was the same rate in the past. A creationist worldview would place the first humans at 6,000 years ago, and the mutation load of the first humans at zero. From this foundation, even at the current level of 20 percent useless DNA, and the added number of 60 new mutations per generation is reasonable, and fits the facts far better than the Darwinian deep-time model.See John Sanford’s book Genetic Entropy for more on mutational load and reasons why this shows the human genome cannot be millions of years old.Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. See his Author Profile for his previous articles.last_img read more

Meet the women who fought the Knysna fires

first_imgIn June this year, devastating fires laid waste to the Western Cape, particularly in the towns of Knysna and neighbouring Plettenberg Bay, where homes were destroyed and residents were displaced. All South Africans responded to the disaster with urgent assistance and much-needed moral support. Meet three brave women who were at the forefront of the firefighting/ relief efforts.Huge fires wreaked havoc along the Garden Route of the Western Cape, particularly in the town of Knysna, in June 2017. Thanks to community leaders, emergency workers and other volunteers, the people affected by the disaster are able to rebuild their lives. President Jacob Zuma visited the area on 15 June 2017. (Image: South African Government Flickr)CD AndersonThe Knysna fires were devastating. Hectares of forest and fynbos were destroyed, while hundreds of homes in the town itself were gutted. Over five days at the beginning of June this year, almost a thousand firefighters, emergency workers and community leaders battled to save the town. Seven people lost their lives, but in the true spirit of ubuntu, South Africans around the country sent aid and assistance to the area, to help residents rebuild their lives.Three remarkable women were at the forefront of efforts, all heroes who responded with courage and compassion in the aftermath. These are their stories.(Left to right) Candace Myers, Knysna community leader, Cwayita Runeli, SANParks ranger and Marlene Boyce, Director of Planning, Knysna Municipality. (Image: Marie Claire SA magazine)Candace Myers, Knysna community leaderA lifelong resident of the area, Candace Myers has seen her fair share of fires in the highly volatile natural environment, but the June fires were something different. She told Marie Claire magazine: “It was like another planet… [over] five days, I’d experienced emotions I haven’t had in 50 years of my life.”Myers acted as a co-ordinator between ground forces and the town council’s disaster management team. “There [have] always [been] fires and we always know that somehow these things are taken care of… but sitting in the ops room with the disaster team that Wednesday afternoon, I felt absolute fear in the pit of my stomach. This fire was out of control and we didn’t have enough firemen and expertise. Our town was in flames,” she said.She co-ordinated communications with rescue workers, making sure the teams could fight the fires on all fronts. “[When cell phone reception] went down and we didn’t have communication with our family or anyone else,” she said, “I suddenly felt sort of alone… but we just had to hold out hope that somehow the people… were getting the help they needed. We spent the whole night helping wherever we could.”Myers also helped the relief work as the fires raged and residents were evacuated. She saw firsthand how devastating the fires were, but also how the community came together to help each other: “Members of the public were helping evacuate residents, everyday heroes pulling together and saving each other.”Cwayita Runeli, SANParks rangerCwayita Runeli is a South African National Parks (SANParks) ranger with firefighting training, and was one of only two female SANParks rangers in the thick of the action during the Knysna fires. There are a number of important nature reserves in the area, which is rich in fauna and flora (including volatile fynbos), and it was important that SANParks did everything in its power to minimise the damage.“I feel scared every time I fight fires,” Runeli told Marie Claire. “Anything can happen.” Though used to seeing out-of-control bush fires, Knysna was a shock to her. “When we were sent to Brenton On Sea (a coastal hamlet outside Knysna), it was my first time in such a huge fire. I’d never seen anything like it.” The fire itself was an ocean, she said, “that’s how the flames moved through the fynbos. Those plants hadn’t burned in over 15 years… even the sound of the fire was like a rumbling ocean. The crashing waves. The sky was dark, the smoke everywhere.”Duty however, was foremost on her mind. “I told myself [that] I have to save these lives. I knew exactly what to do… I know about the fire. I [had] to help them.” And she had something to prove.“People say that ladies can’t fight the fires. But I know that I can do anything the men can do. There is nothing that can stop me. People used to say that my body is too small, I’m too thin – all those things. But I told them that it doesn’t matter what [my] body is like – if [I] did the training, [I] can do the job. If you tell yourself that you can do it, you can. And I did.”While the devastation was immense, Runeli is confident that SANParks did its best to save what it could and is now dedicated to reviving this important natural ecosystem to its former glory.Marlene Boyce, Director of Planning, Knysna MunicipalityAs the Knysna fires raged, South Africans around the country – and indeed the world – did not just stand back and watch. Thousands of donations of food, clothing and other necessities flooded into the town, to be distributed to those affected by the disaster. Marlene Boyce, the director of planning and development in the Knysna Municipality, was in charge of co-ordinating the distribution, making sure the needs of the community were met.In addition, her planning department also compiled vital data needed to begin recovery from the fires and rebuild the area. It’s a job that continues long after the last flames have been put out.The future of the town and its people were foremost on her mind, even in the midst of the confusion brought on by the disaster. “[While] the first night was about rallying our municipal team and communities together to save lives… I couldn’t keep the future impacts out of my mind,” Boyce told Marie Claire.Responsible for spatial, environmental and economic development, Boyce and her team had to assess the damage and begin drawing up a recovery plan: “I had a good idea of what the actual impact would be. Large sections of mature commercial timber plantations were destroyed – what of those employed by the industry? And our tourism industry? All of those people would need assistance. Only after the worst of the fire did my real job start.”Even when her own house was affected, she still had to keep her mind on the important job at hand. “[The community’s] hospitality shown to me… left me feeling inspired about my job ahead. Like many people, I know we have a lot to look forward to, with possibilities to change our town for the better.”Part of Boyce’s role now is to look at new ways to approach nature conservation and community protection. While a national tragedy, the fires were also an opportunity to find alternative means to stimulate growth in the community, create employment and boost the tourism industry.“Knysna has an indomitable spirit,” Boyce said “[We] don’t live in a hopeless town. It is a community where people instantly pull themselves up and put their best foot forward. If there’s one message I think has come out of this, it’s that Knysna cannot be defeated. Like our fynbos, we are ready to flourish after this fire.”Source: Marie Claire, News24Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Get wise about getting fit

first_imgMade a commitment to get some exercise into your routine? Before you head to the market to get the equipment, read through this buyer’s guideIt’s ironic, but the more busy, stressed and tired you are, the more your body actually needs exercise to continue functioning normally. The endorphins kick in, your general fitness goes up and you can do much more. The good news is that getting started doesn’t require fancy gym memberships or personal trainers; it requires a commitment to health and some basic equipment. The challenge? The market for health equipment has exploded, making it easy to get caught in a retail maze. So, do your homework before you set out to buy…What’s your goal?Are you looking to lose weight? Do you want a more toned, fit body? Or are you keen to push up your energy? Often, your goals will be a combination of all three, but to choose specific equipment, you need to prioritise, unless you have the space and resources to buy a variety.What are you willing to invest?Time, money, space and effort are your investments. Time doesn’t play a role in deciding equipment, but the others do. How many family members will use the equipment? How much space do you have? How much can you invest? ‘People look at TV commercials for equipment, and assume that pricier is better,’ says Delhi-based personal trainer Kiran Sawhney who runs Fitnesolution. ‘But you don’t need elaborate gadgets to be fit. If you don’t have joint or knee issues, for example, a simple skipping rope is a good start.’advertisementIs the price right? Reputed sporting goods stores are safe bets, but there are various other routes to get a bargain:1. Ask the gym/trainer – They can guide you to wholesale dealers where you will get a good deal.2. Go online – Ebay and craigslist (an online “classifieds” site) have India sites where you can find people who want to sell used equipment, including those based in your own city. Do check equipment personally before buying.3. Visit gyms – They might be upgrading and disposing quality equipment, and you may get a good bargain. what to ask the sa lesman * Is it safe for you to use the equipment alone? * Does it have a warranty? * Is there a machine that combines the basic activity with something else? * What sort of maintenance does it require? * How long will it last? * What should you watch out for when using it?Tips you can useGet (free!) pro adviceMost reputed gym chains* Offer free trials for a day or two. Check it out; also chat with the fitness trainer to understand what your workout should be to achieve your fitness goals – for free. Make sure you try out the kind of equipment that you can use at home. Here is what you need to keep in mind, going forward.If you hate it, don’t invest ‘I hate to walk,’ says Nandita Chawla, 39, a Delhi-based homemaker, ‘but I bought a treadmill for exercising in my house, thinking that the machine would make me enjoy the activity – after all, the machine draws the most crowds at any gym! Turns out, I still hate to walk, and the treadmill blocks space we can’t afford in our guest room!’ While you will no doubt have to do some kind of exercise you dislike in the pursuit of your goals, remember that there is a difference between dislike and total aversion. The former is worth battling, the latter is a waste of your time.Get fit for “nothing” If you have stairs in your workplace, or live in a high-rise apartment, learn to take the stairs rather than buy a stepper to do the exact same thing. When Gauri Grover, 32, wanted to lose her post-baby weight in a hurry – but didn’t have the space or budget for buying equipment – she adopted an age-old practice: sweeping and swabbing the floors of her home for a few months. ‘It worked wonders. I lost 20kg in less than a year. Cost? Zero!’ The lesson here? ‘Doing simple crunches or push ups on the floor is as effective as buying ab-exercisers or leg presses,’ says fitness expert Kiran. ‘In fact, they are better, because you are simply working with your body’s natural resistance, not external equipment,’ adds Gauri.Use online search engines You can access the best brand names and average pricing for the equipment you want. Read reviews – www.amazon. com is a great place to start because there are customer reviews that accompany each product. Make a note of the model/manufacturer names that generate positive feedback. Warns Sawhney: ‘Don’t go for local or Chinesemade versions, but do not assume fancier brands are better either. A personal trainer can provide you brand names to choose from.’advertisementWhat you can aim for… A single piece of equipment from this list or a combination of these machines is what you need for most basic fitness goals*Dumbbells and barbellsDumbbells help build resistance, and are used for strength-training. They come in a range of weights; ideally, though, buy adjustable dumbbells, which change the weight/resistance levels at the push of a button.What to look for In regular weights: a comfortable grip. In adjustable weights: how high the weights go and what increment of weight you want.Stability ball/balance ball It is essentially a large ball (usually 18 to 28 inches in diameter) made of polyvinyl and can be used for a range of exercises – from abs to stretches, and in place of a conventional “bench” for weight training.What to look for Burst resistance; right size for your height; air pump.Floor/yoga mat For floor and stretch exercises, so you can exercise anywhere.What to look for The right size for you; anti-skid or anti-slip material.Indoor bike Great for a cardio workout and for toning your legs and thighs.What to look for A comfortable seat; smooth pedal movement; well-angled handlebars. If you have a lower-back issue, look for a “recumbent” bike whose angle will be more comfortable for you.Stepper/step bench It looks like a long low stool and is used for step aerobics. Can really get your body moving.What to look for A sturdy build; slip-proof material; adjustable height and adequate width of top surface.Elliptical trainer It is a top pick for cardio exercise and fat loss and the second most popular machine at most gymnasiums after the treadmill. It combines the effects of stair-climbing with a skiing motion, and gives you a full-body workout. A great calorie-burner.What to look for Good grip; stability, so the machine doesn’t wobble; stride length that’s suitable for your height. If many people of varying heights are going to use it, pick one with an adjustable stride.Treadmill Most treadmills are electric and have fancy extras; the more basic “manual” treadmills are inexpensive and are designed to move by your walking action. These are also effective but you lose variation in your walking routine.What to look for Basic readouts of heart-rate, speed, calories; good quality tread; good grip on the armrest. The world of fitness equipment is almost limitless but you now know enough to hold your own with pushy salespeople. So go on, invest in your family’s health with confidence!last_img read more