Chinese Scientists Successfully Clone Monkeys. Are We Next?

Using a method known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai have successfully cloned monkeys.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are a pair of identical long-tailed macaques that were recently born in China. However, they are not your average set of twins, instead they are the product of a groundbreaking experiment. They were born two weeks apart and are both clones of the same donor culture of fetal monkey cells.

It is important to note that (technically) this is not the first time that monkeys have been cloned. In 1999, researchers ‘cloned’ a rhesus macaque by splitting a macaque embryo into multiple parts. However, this is the first time that the SCNT method has been used to clone primates.

“We tried several different methods but only one worked,” Qiang Sun, senior author of the study and Director of the Nonhuman Primate Research Facility at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience, says. “There was much failure before we found a way to successfully clone a monkey.” He added: “You can produce cloned monkeys with the same genetic background except the gene you manipulated. This will generate real models not just for genetically based brain diseases, but also cancer, immune or metabolic disorders, and allow us to test the efficacy of the drugs for these conditions before clinical use.”

This is certainly a controversial milestone, as the SCNT method, in theory, could also be used to clone humans. So, are we next? “There is now no barrier for cloning primate species, thus cloning humans is closer to reality,” Mu-ming Poo, co-author of the research and director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Neuroscience, explains. “However, our research purpose is entirely for producing non-human primate models for human diseases; we absolutely have no intention, and society will not permit, this work to be extended to humans.”

Credit: Truth Theory

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Stop Going Broke Trying To Impress People

going broke“Broke has nothing to do with how much you make. It has to do with how much you keep.” – Malcolm “MJ” Harris

Do you have a relatively good income but still end up with little to no money at the end of the month? Well, in order to build wealth, it is vital that you learn to minimise your expenses. Why? Because the wealthiest people tend to be the ones that spend the least. Here are five ways you can make smarter money choices and increase your long-term financial security:

Pay Yourself First

A lot of people don’t make savings a priority. If you want to maximise your wealth, you will need to get into the habit of paying yourself first. This means that you put a portion of each paycheck into a savings account before you divvy up the rest to cover expenses. If you are able to do this month after month, you will get ahead financially and your future self with thank you for it.

Distinguish Wants From Needs

“People, generally speaking, have a hard time differentiating wants and needs,” explains Grayson Bell, a personal financial blogger at Debt Roundup. If you want to stop going broke, it is important that you learn to distinguish wants from needs. For example, you might need new shoes, but you want a designer brand. This mentality is what leads to a depletion of finances. If you want to create more wealth, you have to develop self-control and really hone in on what you need versus what you want. A luxury pair of shoes may look good, but it won’t help you retain wealth.

Stick To A Budget

However, having a budget is vital for your personal finances. You may not think that you need a budget, but you do. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, having a budget can help you figure out how you spend your money and ways you can improve your financial situation.

“If you don’t know where your money is currently going, you can’t turn it in the direction you’d prefer it would do the most good.” – Donna Freedman, personal finance expert.

Build An Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund can really help you manage your money. If you are able to save money for a rainy day, you will put yourself in a better position to deal with financial setbacks.

Stop Trying To Impress People

The financial decisions you make should be aligned with your future financial needs. Trying to impress other people can really impact your finances. When we buy the latest luxury car model, splash out on deluxe branded items and the like, we are often looking for validation from others. We want them to know that we have the money to dress a certain way, so we buy things that convey wealth. This is a surefire way to go broke. You should pay more attention to your own future. Stop spending money on things and invest that money into assets that your future self will thank you for.

Why Do We Shop Like Crazy On Black Friday?

Black_FridayIn the run up to Black Friday, stores have been “leaking” deals since October and teasing you with special online discounts and flash sales. We all know that there is no escaping Black Friday madness, but, why do we buy into the Black Friday hype? Why do we camp out ahead of a doorbuster run or elbow people out of the way so that we can get our hands on the ‘latest’ flat screen TV? According to two consumer scientists, there are some key reasons why we shop like crazy.

Deals Feel Good

James Mourey, assistant professor at the Driehaus College of Business at DePaul University, says that seeing something you like activates the nucleus accumbens – this is central to the brain’s reward centre and makes us feel good. “Any time people shop and they find a great deal, there’s that psychological joy of pleasure,” he said.

Limited Sales Create A Sense Of Urgency

“A major focus of Black Friday is having shoppers focus on a particular, very limited sale opportunity,” says Laura Brannon, a social psychologist who researches consumer psychology. “Opportunities are more desirable the more restricted they are,” and the language used in marketing promotions such as “ supplies are limited” and “get it before it’s gone” emphasise this. The idea that the item is scarce gets shoppers thinking in an irrational way. “Even though people might be somewhat annoyed by feeling manipulated, they still think it’s a good deal,” Brannon says. “They can’t stand the idea of maybe missing out on a bargain.”

Making A Purchase Justifies The Time Commitment

If you have slept outside a store, woken up early, waited in line for hours on end and then rushed in when the doors open, you have to feel that your efforts were worth it. Brannon refers to the “consistency and commitment” principle” and says that “once retailers get shoppers to get up early and wait in long lines, they feel somewhat obligated to buy something to justify all of that effort.”

Deal Teasers Build Up Anticipation

Retailers send previews of deals from as early as October, and Brannon says that this “creates a sense of anticipation” which leads to wanting something even more. In addition, emails and promotions from retailers often require you to click through for more information and this is an interactive game-based approach to marketing. Mourey says “We’ll give you a sneak peek of what’s going to happen and to whet your appetite, as opposed to just telling you,” he says. “If we just told you, it’s going to get lost in all the announcements that are out there.”

Credit: Truth Theory

Social Currency: The Value of a Like

Social Currency is information that, when shared, encourages future social interactions. This concept originally came from Pierre Bourdieu’s writings on the sociological concept of social capital and is focused primarily on four areas:

  • Increasing an individual’s sense of their community.
  • Sharing knowledge within their community.
  • Forming an individual identity within the community.
  • Providing one with status and recognition as differentiation.

Social currency is represented in the result of sentiment – Followers, Likes, Comments and Retweets – that originate from the content and information you share. It is measured by the value of each exchange in its reach, resonance and influence the action has on others.

The types of people who are likely to rise to top of the influence crowd have long been called opinion leaders, or people whose opinions on certain topics are highly valued. What has changed with the advent of social media is that the average person can now leverage an avenue on which to publish their opinions. This means that the media, authors, politicians, company executives and other widely published voices, no longer have the domain to themselves. This change to the social fabric put the potential to impact a community into the hands of anyone willing to clothe themselves in their opinions.

The Value of a Like

For many of us, Facebook Likes and Twitter mentions may not return a monetary yield on investment. However, it still has value. Social content is openly shared and although there is no immediate monetary gain, there is clearly a motivation for interaction.

Likes mean power and popularity. We all want acceptance. We all want validation. When we post something about ourselves or upload a picture, we anticipate a response. This is no different from the physical world. Even the most introverted people want to be seen and heard in some way. We want to be recognised and celebrated. In some ways social media is the digital representation of our physical relationships.

As the online social web grows in sophistication, we will see our ties to the digital world take on a greater meaning. Who knows, one day our social currency may become the deciding factor for employment, the exchange of goods and services and more.

Be Creative, Not Perfect.

The reason why you haven’t written that novel yet, released that song or otherwise given expression to the art inside you – is almost certainly fear. Fear of what people will think of our creative work can play a significant role in our decision to show off our talents. It could be fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of judgement, and for some, even fear of success.

“Most people self-edit, killing potentially creative ideas because we’re afraid that our bosses or peers will see us fail. We stick to ‘safe’ solutions or suggestions. We hang back, allowing others to take risks.” – David & Tom Kelley (Creative Confidence)

There are many reasons why we may give into fear and fail to unlock our potential. Having creative confidence requires you to be strong-willed and means that you must take steps to control your emotions. There are many ways we can trick ourselves into believing that our creative work does not deserve recognition or attention.

  • I’m not good enough

Self doubt is probably the number one fear of any creative professional.  After all, for the most part, we are not creating necessities but luxuries.  As much as our art enriches our life and the lives of others, it remains something that we (at least as consumers) could probably live without.

  • I’m not original enough

While it may be true that all the great themes in art and literature have already been done before a thousand times over, it’s always possible to bring something entirely new to the process.

  • People won’t take me seriously

The truth is that your career as an artist is only as serious as you take it.  Do you work at it as your “job” or do you only work at it occasionally as your “hobby”?  How much work do you really put into it daily?  If you were your boss, would you pay yourself for the effort that you are currently making? If you are putting effort into your work, it will not go unnoticed.

  • My work is never as good as I imagined it would be

No artist is ever completely satisfied with their work.  Some pieces you will always like better than others but the pursuit of perfection is only a mirage that keeps you from moving on. We should be creative, not perfect. We should look beyond our own biased perspective of how ‘good’ our work is. We should free ourselves from the belief that others will laugh at our creativity and undermine our efforts.

We should accept the fact that even the greatest authors, composers, musicians, and artists were still unsatisfied with their masterpieces in some way.  Perfection is an illusion that will eventually consume you if you let it.  Think of each piece that you create as a stepping stone on a much longer journey.  You will never get to the next stage of development as an artist unless you are willing to set that piece aside and move on to the next.