Blow Your Mind: Mitochondrial Eve

There's something awe-inspiring about the prospect of a primordial mother figure, a lone women that all human lineages trace back to. Far from a mere mythological tale, however, scientists actually discovered such a woman - and her ghost resides in the genetics of every human being alive today. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I get to know Mitochondrial Eve.

Fifteen Years and One Synthetic Cell Later

We interrupt this programming to inform you that a living, self-replicating bacterial cell has been made synthetically. The idea of life as chemistry has just scored some serious cred. If Stanley Miller and Harold Urey had lived to see today, they'd probably be pretty excited. Back in 1952, the two scientists took a stab at recreating Earth's early atmosphere in a beaker, by adding water, hydrogen, ammonia and methane and then zapping it with an electrical charge. Boom! Amino acids, some of the building blocks of life and protein precursors, soon appeared. Within the booming field of synthetic biology, the folks at the J. Craig Venter Institute took a slightly different approach. Keep reading to learn what it was.

DNA Evidence can be Fabricated

We've largely come to hold DNA evidence as the ultimate weapon in criminal investigation, as well as one killer obstacle on the road to the perfect crime. Humans are constantly spurting fluids, shedding skin flakes and dropping hairs. Just one genetic sample left in the wrong place is enough to cinch it. At least it's been that way till now.

Lightning: Life's Secret Ingredient?

Dr. Frankenstein, if you're reading this, you have reason to feel a little vindicated. While the modern scientific community may laugh at your use of harnessed lightning bolts to animate a stitched-up monster, they're at least admitting that lightning may have played a vital role in the evolution of life on Earth.

Mad Science: Human Flora and 'The Fly'

In David Cronenberg's 1986 film "The Fly," brilliant scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidently splices his genes with a housefly stowaway. But what about all the foreign DNA that would have existed in Brundle's internal microbes?

Genetic Breakthrough May Let You Saddle up a Zebra

Want to ride a zebra like Tanya Roberts in "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle?" Well, a little genetics stands in the way of that, and a team of scientists claim to have discovered the very genes responsible.

Air pollution's affect on your lungs is pretty obvious. Go out running on a Code Purple air quality day and you'll come home thirsty, coughing and tired (so please don't). Air pollution, especially particulate matter, also messes with your heart, affecting its electrical system and potentially causing or exacerbating heart disease. But it turns out air pollution might have even subtler -- and more disturbing -- ways of upending your health. Building off observations that the tissue and blood of lung cancer patients sometimes shows altered gene programming as a result of a chemical transformation called methylation, researchers out of the University of Milan did an experiment of their own. They found that certain particulates cause the reprogramming of genes -- changes that can lead to the development of cancer and other diseases. According to ScienceDaily, researchers took blood DNA samples from 63 healthy foundry workers near Milan, Italy, at the beginning of the work week.