Next Tuesday, it may all come down to Ohio. The election is looking to turn into a nail-biter right at the end. Robert Stacy McCain has some insights on the ground game in Ohio, although at this point it’s anyone’s guess how the state will go. Governor Romney can win without Ohio, of course, although no GOP contestant ever has.
There are five key states: The Governor has to have Florida, and it looks to be safely in the Romney camp. The remaining four states are North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin. Rasmussen has them all as toss-ups; if Romney takes three of those four, he wins.
Programming note: It is my intention to live-blog the election next Tuesday night, but if things play out as I suspect and counts go late into the night, I may have to bow out before the curtain actually comes down, due to being embroiled in a busy project that is tightly scheduled.
Let’s forsake electoral politics for science for the balance of this Friday morning. Moving along: Who Didn’t Have Sex with Neandertals? Excerpt:
The only modern humans whose ancestors did not interbreed with Neanderthals are apparently sub-Saharan Africans, researchers say.
New findings suggest modern North Africans carry genetic traces from Neanderthals, modern humanity’s closest known extinct relatives.
Although modern humans are the only surviving members of the human lineage, others once roamed the Earth, including the Neanderthals. Genetic analysis of these extinct lineages’ fossils has revealed they once interbred with our ancestors, with recent estimates suggesting that Neanderthal DNA made up 1 percent to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes. Although this sex apparently only rarely produced offspring, this mixing was enough to endow some people with the robust immune systems they enjoy today.
A robust immune system is a good thing, and the Neandertal are people anyone should be proud to have in their lineage; they were tough, hardy, resilient and adaptable, surviving for millennia in some of the harshest environments imaginable.
Speaking of immune systems, it seems now an antibody found in monkeys may be the key to an Ebola vaccine. Excerpt:
Scientists have been experimenting with an Ebola vaccine in animals for the past few years, but they’ve been stymied. There’s no easy way to test its effectiveness in people.
Immunologists at the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg have found a way to crack the problem. They’ve discovered a molecule that predicts whether one kind of Ebola vaccine will work in monkeys — and the prediction appears quite good, up to 99 percent accurate.
The findings, just published in Science Translational Medicine, could help move an Ebola vaccine into human tests.
Unlike HIV or the flu, Ebola infections are rare and sporadic. So researchers have been stuck testing the vaccine on animals. What scientists have needed is a way to measure the shot’s potency without exposing people to the deadly virus.
Ebola is a nasty customer. With an average fatality rate of 68% across all the known outbreaks, it’s one of the most dangerous viral diseases known; you probably have better odds of survival taking a gunshot wound through a lung than you would contracting Ebola in any of its various incarnations.
What the article doesn’t state is whether a similar treatment might be found for any of the other hemorrhagic fevers endemic to Africa, like Lassa or Q fever. Of course, nobody has ever made a movie about those diseases.
It’s Friday, True Believers! Have a superior one.