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Modern electron microscopy permits scientists to study the fine detail of cells and tissues, using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional imaging modalities. However, achieving optimal preservation of ultrastructure for a variety of biological samples remains a challenge. Here, we describe practical methods to preserve the fine structure of mouse skeletal muscle and sciatic nerve and to obtain high-resolution images of mitochondria in cultured cells, flow-sorted T-cells, and mouse urothelium. We also propose an effective and economical workflow for three-dimensional electron microscopy in the context of a microscopy core facility.
This overview of the book introduces the Human System as an open, historical, and adaptive system, formed 70,000 years ago by a founding human community as its members created syntactic language. The system grew to the point where it is now in trouble because of excessive growth and painful social inequality. Analysis relies on Darwinian assumptions of evolutionary growth – biological, cultural, and social – as these processes coevolve with each other and with Gaia, a model of the natural world of living things. The discipline of world history is introduced to provide the framework for the narrative and the underlying analysis: world history combines concepts, data, and perspectives from multiple disciplines in natural and social sciences. It gives special attention to behavior of human groups as well as individuals. The chapter concludes by reviewing the book’s argument, presenting two or three historical and analytical hypotheses for each chapter: these hypotheses are to be documented, tested, and debated in the details of each chapter.
Innovations of the Anthropocene rely on expanded group agency. Popular culture, growing first through literacy, brought successful antislavery campaigns. A spate of twentieth-century media highlighted celebrities, reaching across family and ethnic lines. New knowledge arose at both general and specialized levels. Literacy and the internet have now reached most adults, while specialized knowledge, in disciplines within universities and institutes, confirms human biological equality. Yet results can be contradictory: patents enabled monopolization of knowledge, while open-source computing brought its sharing. The juncture of popular culture with the exchanges of knowledge created a global discourse: indeed, a democratic discourse, in that more and more participated. Topics ranged across the claims of indigenous peoples, the meaning of equality, gender issues, environmental worries, and religious views. Ideologies conflicted, since social priorities and perspectives varied, yet debate continued. This trajectory yields a call for global debate more than for world government – a balance among multiple perspectives rather than delegation to a global elite.
Social institutions collided from 1000 to 1600 CE, halting population growth. Gaia brought the Medieval Warm Era, nourishing prosperity from 800 to 1200 CE, until the Black Plague infected the Old World. The sixteenth-century mortality wave of the Americas reinforced population shrinkage; declining agriculture reinforced the cooling of the Little Ice Age. Meanwhile, earlier prosperity had encouraged ambitions among warriors: their bellicose emotions revealed links of social and biological human nature as they destroyed empires in China and the Mediterranean. The Mongols regime supported commerce and knowledge exchange, yet their legacy brought further warfare. Maritime encounters brought other collisions, especially after the tenth century. Transoceanic routes, completing the global trade network, spread disease, conflict, and mortality. Inherited representations of the world met with challenge: the major religions each experienced doctrinal schisms. The sixteenth century, while it offered innovative elements of global expansion, also reproduced the collisions of previous centuries, revealing the inherent challenges and limits to the human order.
The “society” emerged in the warmth of the early Holocene, absorbing the preceding communities and confederations into institutions of more than a thousand members. The chapter contrasts two models of society, exploring whether diversity was beneficial or harmful. A cultural-evolution model places a premium on evolutionary unity within societies, so that each would maximize internal cooperation and fare better in conflict with others. A social-evolutionary model emphasizes diversity within society, favoring migration, multiple institutions, and tension of network and hierarchy. Further modeling of social evolution traces, society, its clans, and its elites, as both networks and hierarchies emerged in the institutions of agriculture, animal husbandry, artisanal workshops, towns, and judiciary. Some societies grew larger: they built states, measured time and created calendars. Agriculture supported cities but also sustained migrations: agriculture created enough greenhouse gases to warm Earth. Afro-Eurasian advances led the mid-Holocene in literacy, empires, water supply, and large-scale religion.
This chapter, presenting the main theoretical statements on social evolution, stems from the hypothesis of a sudden rise of spoken, syntactic language in Northeast Africa, 70,000 years ago. The youth among a small population of Founders formed a cohesive group through the shared efforts of developing agreed-upon syntax and vocabulary, and then formed a community of roughly 150 persons to sustain their language. These were the initial social institutions. These institution led to creation of others, such as for ritual and migration, and enabled processes of social and institutional evolution: innovation (through representation or modeling as a source of variation), inheritance (through social reproduction and regulation), and the assessment of the fitness of institutions for the community. These processes brought into existence the Human System. At the multiple scales of family, community, and cross-community networks, it underwent coevolution among biological, social, cultural, and environmental influences, yielding a “group-level human nature” that relied on emotions at group as well as individual levels.
This chapter traces evolution of hominin species from the late Pliocene era to 100,000 years ago, focusing on the concurrent emergence of several remarkable capabilities. The chapter begins with the biological evolution of the phenotype of succeeding species, including unusual growth in brain capacity. With the rise of Homo heidelbergensis some 700,000 years ago, this species and its offspring—especially Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans, gained capabilities including advances in learning (facilitated through inclusive fitness and multilevel selection), visual communication, logic, internal language, articulation of emotions, and family level behavior in groups of 15 to 30 individuals. The chapter traces documentation of these changes through studies in paleontology, cultural evolution, evolutionary linguistics, evolutionary psychology, and social anthropology; it defines the sum of these hominin capabilities as “individual-level human nature.” Such individual-level human nature allows for processes. The chapter concludes with the question of the degree to which these capabilities, known for Homo sapiens, also characterized Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Seventeenth-century empires of east and west built four types of profitable colonies. They maintained port cities, labor systems, and trade in precious metals. A comparison of oceanic shipping shows that, while Europeans dominated long-haul routes, Asian shipping dominated the dense Indian Ocean trade. Capitalism entered this scene, gradually gaining global leadership. Its most basic institution was the profit-making enterprise, combining local and international trade. A second institution, the proprietors’ association, linked entrepreneurs to pressure states at home and abroad for pro-enterprise policy in commerce, taxation, diplomacy, and war. Such associations gained an early start in the Netherlands and thereafter in England. A Dutch–English alliance then created a third capitalistic institution, a network of national proprietors’ associations able to sustain pro-capitalist policy among states even as they warred. The chapter concludes with exploration of global cultural exchange and early signals of nationalism and democracy. The changes in economy, culture, and politics relied both on current agency and deep antecedents worldwide.