Mutation Tied to Need for Less Sleep Is Discovered
( New York Times )

Researchers have found a genetic mutation in two people who need far less sleep than average, a discovery that might open the door to understanding human sleep patterns and lead to treatments for insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Although the mutation has been identified in only two people, the power of the research stems from the fact that the shortened sleep effect was replicated in mouse and fruit-fly studies. As a result, the research now gives scientists a clearer sense of where to look for genetic traits linked to sleep patterns.

The scientists were searching the samples for variations in several genes thought to be related to the sleep cycle. In what amounts to finding a needle in a haystack, they spotted two DNA samples with abnormal copies of a gene called DEC2, which is known to affect circadian rhythms. They then worked back to find out who provided the samples and found a mother and daughter who were naturally short sleepers. The women routinely function on about 6 hours of sleep a night; the average person needs 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・identify 同定する、特定する、見分ける
・affect 影響する、(悪く)作用する
・circadian rhythm サーカディアンリズム(約24時間周期のリズム)

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Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man
( New York Times )

A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.

While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・workload 仕事量、作業負荷
・concern 関係、関心、心配
・profound 深い、深遠な
・legitimate 合法の、筋道の通った

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A Long Search for a Universal Flu Vaccine
( New York Times )

Two shots of measles vaccine given during childhood protect a person for life. Four shots of polio vaccine do the same. But flu shots must be taken every year. And even so, they provide less than complete protection.

The reason is that the influenza virus mutates much more rapidly than most other viruses. A person who develops immunity to one strain of the virus is not well protected from a different strain.

That is shaping up to be a major problem as the world prepares for a possible pandemic this fall from the new strain of swine flu. It is impossible to know how many people might die before a vaccine matched to that strain can be manufactured.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・measles はしか
・mutate 変化する、突然変異をする
・strain (引)張り、種族、血統、(ウイルスの)株、気質、素質

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Recipient of Face Transplant Shares Her Story and Results
( New York Times )

Five years ago, a shotgun blast left a ghastly hole where the middle of Connie Culp’s face had been. Five months ago, she received a new face from a dead woman.

Ms. Culp stepped forward on Tuesday to show the results of the
nation’s first face transplant. Her new look was far from the
puckered, noseless sight that had made children run away in horror.

Ms. Culp’s expressions are still a bit wooden, but she can talk, smile, smell and taste food again. Her speech is at times difficult to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish, and her skin droops in folds that doctors plan to pare away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, animating new muscles. But she had nothing but praise for those who made her new face possible.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・ghastly 幽霊(ghost)のような、恐ろしい、ぞっとする
・transplant  移植する
・pucker ひだ、しわ、縮み、すぼめる
・bloat ふくらませる
・squarish ほぼ四角(square)の
・droop (だらりと)垂れる、しおれる
・pare 皮をむく、切り取る

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Earlier Date Suggested for Horse Domestication
( New York Times )

It is a long way from Kazakhstan to Kentucky, but the journey to the Derby may have started among a pastoral people on the Kazakh steppes who appear to have been the first to domesticate, bridle and perhaps ride horses --around 3500 B.C., a millennium earlier than previously thought.

Archaeologists say the discovery may revise thinking about the
development of some preagricultural Eurasian societies and put an earlier date to their dispersal into Europe and elsewhere. These migrations are believed to have been associated with horse domestication and the spread of Indo-European languages.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・domesticate (動植物などを)環境に適応させる、飼いならす、(人を)家庭になじませる(domestic:家庭内の)
・pastoral 田園(生活)の、牧歌的な、草地の
・bridle 馬勒(手綱)をつける
・revise 改訂する、修正する
・preagricultural 農耕以前の (agriculture:農業)
・dispersal  散布、分散
・migration 移住、渡り

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