Alex Eben Meyer

Alex Eben Meyer

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What happens to congressional representation when state legislatures engage in gerrymandering—shaping voting districts to advantage a political party?
To examine gerrymandering’s impact, Yale and Harvard researchers created nonpartisan redistricting models to compare with actual district maps enacted after the 2020 census. They found widespread partisan bias in the 2020 redistricting, but gerrymandering gave Republicans on average only two additional congressional seats in that cycle.

However, researchers found that other factors have benefitted Republicans over time, conferring an eight-seat Republican advantage overall.

Noting the difficulty of producing a fair national House map drawn by fifty sovereign political units, the researchers wrote: “While Americans are geographically sorted and segregated along partisan and racial lines, Congressional elections occur in winner-take-all, single-member districts. When this sorting is combined with districts, Democratic votes turn into seats less efficiently than Republican votes.”
Early twentieth-century scientists found that as cancer cells multiplied, some ended up with too many chromosomes and others with too few. This observation led to a long-held theory that aberrant numbers of chromosomes weren’t simply a hallmark of cancer, but might be the cause of the disease.

This notion fell by the wayside as researchers discovered dozens of cancer-causing genes and developed targeted therapies. Still, cancer cells’ chromosomal disorder remained present in 90 percent of cancers, leaving scientists puzzled.  

Now, using the CRISPR gene editing tool, researchers have shown that, without their extra chromosomes, certain cancer cells cannot seed tumors in petri dishes or in mice—evidence that extra chromosomes weren’t just an effect, but a driver of the disease.

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