Q: The new hospitals in the O’Fallon/Shiloh area — St. Elizabeth’s and Memorial East — are only a few miles apart. When someone calls 911, how will the ambulance driver determine which ER to go to?
R.J.D., of Fairview Heights
A: If you think about it, the logistics are not that much different than what exists today. Although the new hospitals will be closer, St. E’s and Memorial are just four miles apart in Belleville.
So, just as in the past, decisions will be made based on the condition of the patient, Herb Simmons says. If, say, I have a simple broken arm and in no particular distress, I can tell the EMTs which hospital I prefer. But if I’m on death’s door in the midst of a massive heart attack, I’ll be praying that they take me to the closest hospital ready and equipped to handle my case.
As I said, it’s no different today. I live off West 85th so in a life-or-death situation, I’d likely be rushed to Memorial. If something happened at the BND, I’d likely wind up at St. Elizabeth’s.
Q: You can find all kinds of stories saying that humans share 98 percent of their genetic material with chimps, 80 percent with cats — even 24 percent with the lowly table grape. Is this really true?
A.F., of Tilden
A: While such comparisons provide juicy Internet click-bait, knowledgeable scientists seem to agree that such stories are at best simplistic and at worst meaningless because you wind up comparing rutabagas to kumquats rather than apples to apples.
Here’s why: It’s inevitable that we’re going to share some genetic material with just about everything from dandelions to gorillas. That’s because scientists believe animals, plants and fungi all share a common ancestor that lived about 1.6 billion years ago. Everything that evolved from this ancestor retained part of that original genome so it’s no surprise some similarities are still found today. And it’s no surprise that the higher up the chain you go — comparing pigs and humans, for example — the more similarities you’ll find.
After that, however, all bets are off. The numbers you see probably are comparing only that portion of your DNA that “code for” — or regulate the production of — various proteins our bodies need. So, for example, since all mammals need the same types of proteins, it’s only logical they’re going to share a large number of the roughly 20,000 protein-encoding genes. But while 20,000 sounds like a lot, only 1 percent to 2 percent of mammalian genes are thought to encode proteins with similar basic functions. We’re still trying to uncover what many of the other 98 percent do. This is where those comparisons fall apart.
“Depending what it is you are comparing, you can say, ‘Yes, there’s a very high degree of similarity, for example, between a human and a pig protein-coding sequence,” Chris Moran at the University of Sydney once told ABC News. “But if you compare rapidly evolving non-coding sequences from a similar location in the genome, you may not be able to recognize any similarity at all. This means that blanket comparisons of all DNA sequences between species are not very meaningful.”
Q: They’re saying President Trump already has golfed far more than Obama did. Is this true or just more liberal media spin?
M.B., of O’Fallon
A: Although he told supporters at a 2016 Virginia campaign rally that he wouldn’t have time for golf, Donald Trump has indeed been on the course more than once a week since taking office, according to CBS’s Mark Knoller, who has tracked the comings and goings of presidents for decades, and the New York Times.
Although the White House will not confirm the numbers, Trump has played golf at least 13 times, Knoller says, and has been at the course 19 times through his first 87 days, the Times reports. By comparison, during the same period in their presidencies, George W. Bush and Obama had not picked up a putter while Bill Clinton had played three times. Obama, however, did wind up shooting 333 rounds during his eight years — or an average of a round about every nine days, Knoller reports. Although not revealing whom he plays with, the White House says Trump spends his time on the greens building relationships with lawmakers and world leaders.
If you’re keeping count, Trump spent 25 of his first 87 days at his Mar-A-Lago resort. During the same period, Bush had spent 14 days at his Crawford, Texas, ranch while Obama had returned to Chicago four days. Clinton either was at the White House or visiting his ailing father in Arkansas.
In what state was famed Western lawman Wyatt Earp born?
Answer to Friday’s trivia: Everybody knows him now as Frank Lloyd Wright, but that was not the famed architect’s name at birth. When he entered the world on June 8, 1867, his parents christened him Frank Lincoln Wright likely in honor of the president who had guided the country through its darkest days. But when Frank was a teen, his parents divorced, and he later said he never saw his father again. To honor his mother, he changed his middle named to Lloyd to salute her family, the Lloyd Joneses. More trivia: One of several theories is that when his son, John, invented a popular construction toy in about 1916, he called them Lincoln Logs in tribute to his father. According to Frank’s biography, his mother predicted he would be an architect and hung pictures of English cathedrals in his nursery for inspiration.