Tuesday, November 29, 2011
What is a chimera?
From wiki: a chimera is a single organism (usually an animal) that is composed of two or more different populations of genetically distinct cells that originated from different zygotes. Chimeras are formed from four parent cells (two fertilized eggs or early embryos fused together). Each population of cells keeps its own character, resulting in an organism of mixed tissues. Usually, the condition is inherited, but may also be acquired through the infusion of allogeneic hematopoeitic cells (this happens through transplantation or transfusion). The likelihood of offspring being a chimera is increased if it is created via in vitro fertilization.
There is also a form of congenital chimerism (tetragmetic chimerism). In this way, chimerism occurs through the fertilization of two separate ova by two sperm. The two usually then fuse together at the blastocyst or zygote stage. What results is an organism with intermingled DNA. As the organism develops, it can come to possess organs that have different sets of DNA (i.e. it may have the liver composed of one DNA and a kidney of another. It may even have two different blood types). In CSI (the original), this was a particular key plot in "Bloodlines".
The difference in phenotypes may be subtle (e.g., having one eye a different colour from the other, etc.) or completely undetectable. Chimeras may also show, under a certain spectrum of UV light, distinctive marks on the back resembling that of arrow points pointing downwards from the shoulders down to the lower back in what is called Blaschko's lines.
Blaschko lines form from the fact that chimeras start out with two different cells, each with different DNA (and therefore different instructions). The skin of the person is therefore made up of two different sets of instructions on how to colour the skin. The Blaschko's lines result from the fact that some of a chimera's skin cells say to make darker skin and some say to make lighter.
When there is a big difference between the two DNA's instructions on how dark to make the skin, then you get obvious Blaschko's lines. If the differences are subtle, then you may not be able to see the pattern without the aid of an UV light.
While not as rare as once believed, chimeras may be identified by finding two different populations of red cells, or if the zygotes were of opposite sex, either ambiguous genitalia or hermaphroditism (alone or in combination).
In 2003, scientists had begun to blur the lines of chimerism-producing animal-human hybrids-when Chinese scientists at Shanghai Second Medical University successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. While the embryos were successful, after several days of being allowed to develop in a laboratory dish, they were destroyed so that the stem cells could be harvested. And in 2004, pigs were created with human blood.
Because scientists believe that the more human-like the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing "spare parts," such as livers, to transplant into humans.
What do you think about chimeras?
Friday, November 25, 2011
For me, this is tough. There are so many characters of mine that I'd want to hang out with that I find interesting. However, I think the char I'd choose would be one that hasn't had his story written yet (complicated, eh?). While I love all my chars, Athan and I have a particular bond through the love of science and ancient mythology. Yes, I know, J.C. (Hunting the Shadows) is big into science as well and he'd be my second choice, tied with Stefan (tentatively Tempting the Shadows), but I love Athan's interests.
Athan (and I'm being very careful not to give spoilers) is an inventor. With use of science, he creates these devices that helps him deal with life easier (we won't talk about the weapons). He has his oddities. He likes writing on glass walls with marker...and he has a huge DNA artwork that he hangs on the wall in his bedroom (because it's cool). But even more cool, he's a Chimera. His DNA has been muddled so much that he isn't of any real descent. Oh he's human, but with so much other DNA thrown into the mix that he's a hybrid (for instance, he has more than one blood type).
One eye blue, one eye green...a mop of touseled black hair, Athan has gone through some particularly character strengthening events. It's made him a bit bitter (at himself because he feels like he can't control his own body), but he adapts through the best means he knows how: science.
When he's not inventing something, he's a treasure seeker/adventurer--taking trips to Greece and Egypt or wherever else he wants. If I could spend a day with him, I'd go on a dig with him (I'd love to go visit the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx!). To me, this would be the ultimate day. Not only would I get to talk about science, I'd get to play in the dirt. ;) I'd have to brush up on my hieroglyphics, however.
Who would you spend a day with?
Thursday, November 24, 2011
2. Faster-than-light neutrino results queried
3. 15 infant dinosaurs discovered in crowded nest
4. First teeth grew outside the body
5. Climate may have doomed Neandertals
6. Walking through doorways make you forget
7. Insect cyborgs may be the first responders: search and monitor hazardous place
8. Smart swarms of bacteria inspire robotics: Adaptable decision-making found in bacteria communities
9. Ancient skull found in China may be oldest evidence of violence between humans
10. Discovery of a new muscle repair gene
11. Key to aging? Key molecular switch for telomere extension by telomerase identified
12. Psychopaths' brains show differences in structure and function
13. Key gene function against cell death discovered
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
But what if you didn't have to be 'changed' to be invisible? What if you just had to put on a cloak to be hidden from the world? If you've watched Harry Potter, Harry receives one as a gift that he uses to sneak around Hogwarts.
While the first invisibility cloaks worked at microwave frequencies, physicists have found a way to create a cloak that works by hiding events in time. It's made possible because of a duality between space and time in electromagnetic theory (or rather-- the diffraction of a beam of light in space in mathematically equivalent to the temporal propagation of light through a dispersive medium). Like a lens focusing light in space using diffraction, it's also possible to use dispersion to make a lens that focuses in time.
Such a time-lens can be made using an electro-optic modulator, for example, and has a variety of familiar properties. "This time-lens can, for example, magnify or compress in time," say Fridman and co.
The trick, the physicists realized to creating a temporal cloak, was to place two time-lenses in series and then send a beam of light through them, compressing the light in time while the second decompresses it again. For a short period of time, they found that there's a hole in time where to the observer, because of the light coming out of the second time-lens, it appears undistorted as if nothing occurred. However, this method has some limitations, such as lasting only for 110 nanoseconds.
A mirage effect is naturally occurring in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects. It can happen, for instance, when there's a big change in temperature over a small distance, bending the rays so that they are sent toward the eye rather than bouncing off the surface.
So if you see a pool of blue water in the middle of the desert it’s just the blue sky being redirected from the warm ground and sent directly into your eye. Your brain swaps this mad image out for something more sensible: a pool of water.
The scientists decided to find a material that would have an ability to conduct heat and quickly transfer it to surrounding areas to mimic the light-distorting temperature gradients of the desert. What they found was that sheets of carbon nanotubes that are one molecule thick, wrapped into cylindrical tubes, have a density of air but the strength of steel. Because they are also excellent conductors, the scientists believed that they would make the ideal material to create this mirage effect. Through electrical stimulation, the transparent sheet of nanotubes were quickly heated to high temperatures, transferring the heat to its surrounding areas. This caused the light rays to bend away from the object that was concealed behind the device, making it appear invisible.
"We really can hide objects. ... We can switch for a short moment and make it disappear," said Ali Aliev, a physicist at UTD.
While the technology is limited to the lab at the moment, researchers hope that in time the material could be used to hide large objects, such as military tanks. This still doesn't mean, however, that a human could wear such a device. At this time. But if something was created for a human to actually wear, what would you do with it?
Friday, November 18, 2011
While my accountability group is probably going to focus on Thanksgiving, since US turkey day is coming up, I'm going to look into the future to Christmas since I've already celebrated Thanksgiving.
Christmas time is a blur of activity. On the 23rd I hope to be on the train, headed for home. It's a 8- 10 hour ride I'll most likely spend reading , listening to music and snacking on my own version of trail mix (sour patch kids, chocolate and caramel popcorn). I may do some writing. It all depends on how much room I have. By the time I get home, it'll be late at night. As what happens every year, we'll finish off our shopping on the 24th. It's not like I can bring a lot back with me. I'm hoping this year to order things online and have them shipped to my parents (and pray they don't decide to peek).
I probably won't be doing much in the ways of baking. My mom will have done most of it before I got there. The tree will probably already be up as well. It usually is when I get there. I may write, if I have the time, but I'll also be focusing on the gifts and finishing them off for the family.
Christmas day, it depends. We wake and then open the gifts around 9-10. Sometimes breakfast is before. Sometimes not. We'll all sit on the floor or on chairs around the tree, take a few pics of the family then someone hands out a gift per person and work the way through. After clean up, calls are made to the rest of the family and that can take some time. Christmas is a writing day wash for me. Especially if we're doing dinner at my aunt and uncle's place. I'm not going to lug my computer with there.
Sometimes we don't go out for Boxing Day. I really hope we do this year though, because I'm looking to get a new camera and the sale would be nice. Again, no writing is done this day. By the 27th things start to slow down enough that I could consider getting out the laptop, however, by the 1st, I'll be back on a train.
I'll try to write what I can, but it's a very difficult week. Considering I have a writing pact with a friend, I really do need to. The pact is to finish the story we're currently working on by Jan 1st or we have to pay the other person $100 for books.
For more on what everyone else is doing on the holidays, check out their sites: Danie Ford Emma G. Delaney Kimberly Farris Kristen Koster
Thursday, November 17, 2011
2. Fossilized skin reveals ancient predator's sharklike move
3. Toyota introduces robots that helps patients walk again
4. Hubble discovers tiny galaxies bursting with starbirth in early universe
5. A rare survivor from the birth of Earth
6. A realistic look at the promises and perils of nanomedicine
7. New "smart" material could help tap medical potential of tissue-penetrating light
8. Archeologists discover huge ancient Greek commercial area on island of Sicily
9. Why your hips don't lie
10. Reading the brain: Mind-boggling
11. Real-Life Inception: Army looks to 'counteract nightmares' with digital dreams
12. Antarctica's "Ghost" Mountains Explained
13. "Great Lakes" discovered on Jupiter Moon?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I was watching Jumper on Saturday night and if you haven't watched it before, the main character can teleport himself anywhere. Cool right? That is, when he's not being hunted. The idea of teleportation isn't a new one. While in Jumper it was an innate psychic ability that has existed for centuries, in Star Trek, the characters use a machine, a transporter that gets them to one place to another by dispersing the molecules in their bodies to another location.
But is it possible? Can a person successfully disappear and then reappear intact and alive?
Historically, the earliest mention of teleportation can be found in religious texts. Teleportation then found mention in a 1877 in a science fiction story by Edward Page Mitchell and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a novel on it called The Disintegration Machine. The word teleportation, however, wasn't coined until 1931 by author Charles Fort in his book, Lo! Since then, it has not only been used in Star Trek, but Stargate Atlantis and even Heroes and movies like the Fly and Jumper. While the ability varies depending on what you're watching (psychic ability vs some kind of technology that allows it), the same physics would apply.
While Newton's theory states that teleportation is impossible (objects don't move until they are pushed and cannot suddenly disappear and then reappear somewhere else), in 1925 Erwin Schrodinger and colleagues developed the quantum theory, overthrowing Newton's laws after 250 years. After analyzing the properties of atoms, they discovered that electrons acted like waves and could make quantum leaps in their seemingly chaotic motion within the atom.
In order for this to make sense, I need to explain what is called an EPR (Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen) experiment. In 1935 they proposed that if two electrons are vibrating in unison they remain in wavelike synchronization even if separated by distance because of an invisible Schrodinger wave connecting both of them. If something happens to one electron, some of the information is immediately transmitted to the other in what is called quantum entanglement that was thought to happen faster than the speed of light. Because Einstein didn't think anything could move faster than the speed of light, he thought he'd proven that quantum theory was wrong. But in 1980 Alan Aspect and colleagues performed an experiment that measured the spin of photons and agreed with the quantum theory.
Everything changed in 1993, when scientists had their first success, proving that it was physically possible to teleport objects, at least on an atomic level using the EPR experiment. A research team at IBM, led by Charles Bennett, confirmed that quantum teleportation (the transmission of characteristics--that is, the quantum state of a particular photon, or particle of light--from one place to another) was possible, but only if the original object was destroyed. While the original was destroyed, every distinguishing feature is re-created at the new location. Even now physicists have only been able to teleport particles of light and atoms over a distance.
In 2002, researchers in Australia successfully teleported a laser beam, but the most recent successful teleportation experiment happened in 2006 at the Niels Bohr Institute where Dr. Eugene Polzik and his team teleported information stored in a laser beam into a cloud of atoms.
While we have had some successes, we are far away from creating anything that could transport a human from one spot to another. From HowStuffWorks, "For a person to be transported, a machine would have to be built that could analyze all the atoms that make up the human body. The machine would then have to send this information to another location, where the person's body would be reconstructed with exact precision. Molecules couldn't be even a millimeter out of place, lest the person arrive with some severe neurological or physiological defect." If we go with what happened above where information was copied in the attached, electron, we would have to assume that the machine would act like a fax machine and duplicate the person on the receiving end, possibly destroying the original, thereby "killing" the person.
While teleportation isn't possible today, it would make an interesting sci-fi novel. If the original person was destroyed and a clone made, would that clone be EXACTLY like the original. Sure, it would have the same memories and emotions and whatnot, but what if things go wrong? Is the the person really dead since he/she has been cloned? What do you think?
Friday, November 11, 2011
My journey of conception was not an easy one. While some books were created simply by a spark of an idea and then went on to maybe one or two…sometimes a few more drafts before being finished, I was not so lucky. While my creator started to jot down ideas and scenes twelve years ago, my journey was a slow one at first with her school work. Luckily (or maybe un-luckily), she had no life. She would go home, sit at the computer and write (in between homework of course). And when she wasn’t doing either, she became addicted to Playstation war and fantasy games. Oh and we won’t mention the horrendous music she played on repeat. So many boybands…*sigh*…we also won’t talk about how she named the hero after one particular lead member.
Ten years ago, I had already been through the ringer three times. Three draft that she tore viciously into, abusing me as she deleted scenes and re-wrote, all in the name of ‘working on characterization’ or ‘learning how to pace the plot’. It didn’t end there. A story can only claim amnesia so many times, you see. Scenes were amputated from me and tortured so viciously that when they were re-inputted, they were completely different. I became Frankenstein incarnate. In order to keep some kind of sanity, I had to regress into myself, because I could barely recognize myself over the new following years.
I got some rest while she was away at university studying. Well no, that's not true…she abandoned me. I was suddenly not good enough anymore, and that does a number on a book’s ego as well, let me tell you. (Although, now that I think of it, it was probably more Stockholm’s Syndrome.) I may sound bitter, but she was the one who cheated on me a bunch with a bunch of role playing stories she co-wrote with a friend. Cheated on ME.
About five years ago, she did a re-vamp of her life. She’d ditched the RP stories and had crawled her way back to me. I thought NOW I could be finished. NOW I would go out and make my query rounds, but oh no. She was not done with me. She’d decided I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t enough that she’d already taken so much away from me before. It wasn’t just the characters who suddenly became strangers or the plot that mutated until it got out of control.
Now was when the fun would start, she told me. Lies. Her definition of fun and mine are completely different. She cut me down to the first few pages and started over. Again. For the hundredth time. Re-write after total re-write. Edit after edit. She even handed me over to her friends. I won’t even speak about what they did with their red ink as they inserted “comments”. Fun? I don’t know if I’d ever qualify it as “fun”.
Between that point and a year ago, I lived in a fog. All I remember were the rejections and how ego crushing it had been for them to turn away from me. Until I was entered into a pitch contest and the very awesome Mallory Braus took me in. Oh I won’t lie, the edits these last six months have been life changing. I thought I knew all the secrets that went on within me but somehow, she was able to work with the creator to get more out of me. More than I knew was possible…but now, I have a home or will have one, at Carina Press.
Check out the rest of the writing journeys of my friends: Danie Ford Emma G. Delaney Kimberly Farris Kristen Koster
Thursday, November 10, 2011
2. What the brain sees when the eye looks away
3. Which way you lean (physically) affects your decision making
4. We all experience fantasy differently
5. Brain parasite directly alters brain chemistry
6. Re-programmable cells could be key to creating new life forms
7. Cyborgs may be sci-fi but brain-computer interfacing is real
8. New procedure to turn brown eyes blue
9. Skin sees sunlight to trigger tanning
10. Periodic table adds three new elements
11. 66 leg predator roamed ancient BC sea floor
12. First brain image of a dream created
13. Humans' entry into Europe pushed earlier
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
But what if multi-universes are real? The potential for a multiverse comes from a theory called eternal inflation--postulating that shortly after the Big Bang that formed the universe, space-time expanded at different rates in different places, giving rise to bubble universes that may function with their own separate laws of physics.
In a recent study, a team of researchers have revealed that they have discovered four statistically unlikely circular patterns in what they call the cosmic microwave background (or CMB-- essentially, it is the thermal radiation filling the observable universe). Bubble universes are thought to be not only irregular-shaped, but that they can move about. The researchers believe that these marks could be "bruises" that our universe received when it bumped into other universes.
On researcher said:
If you imagine two ordinary soap bubbles colliding, then the surface where they intersect is going to be a circle, so that's the key signature we're looking for in the CMB. It's not any old perturbation, it's circular and it's got a particular type of profile. There's no obvious sort of other thing that could cause this.But this wasn't the only strange discovery. Before the bubbles were discovered, quantum physicists in 2010 at the University of California found that an object you can see in front of you may exist simultaneously in a parallel universe (causing some scientists to believe that time travel may be plausible-- if you're interested in reading more on time travel, I wrote two posts on it: Pt 1 and Pt 2). What the physicists found, was a way to move a tiny metal paddle, and yet keep it still at the same time.
Based on this thought, the researchers developed a computer algorithm to analyze CMB observations for patterns that would fit.
This paddle, about a width of a human hair was cooled in the fridge. After dimming the lights and being placed under a special bell jar with all the air sucked out to eliminate vibrations, the paddle was plucked-- and was noted to move and stand still at same time (kind of hard to picture that, I'll admit). As it's explained, electrons, which circle the nucleus of an atom, are swirling around in multiple states at the same time.
What does it mean? One physicist says:
"When you observe something in one state, one theory is it that it splits the universe into two parts."So because of this, only one universe would be seen and therefore would "freeze" while all the
others remain in motion, out of sight.
While both of the findings (the bubbles and the paddle being in two states at once) could just be coincidental, it could also be a step in the direction of learning more and perhaps proving that our world may not be the only one. What do you think? Do you believe we live in a multiverse?
For fun, there's a site out there that allows you to input your picture and to find your doppelganger. Who do you look like?
Friday, November 4, 2011
First I want to talk a bit about myself because it's relevant to the topic. Unlike many writers, I don't have a family around me. I'm single and I live by myself. I don't have many priorities that aren't my own. I have two cats and while they are like toddlers at times with their mischief, I can pretty much do whatever I want. I control my own schedule. It's not dictated by kids' activities or family. I live 8 hours from my family. There is no chance of them dropping by unannounced. Therefore, I don't really have many excuses for not getting my wordcount or edits in.
That said, the net is my biggest distraction that keeps me from my wordcount. Twitter and Pinterest being one of the biggest offenders. I can get lost in Pinterest for hours, just scrolling through recipes and geek pages and whatever else. TV is the other offender, but usually it's not that big of one. I always have the tv on. I'm one of those people that need background noise at all times.
But what helps me concentrate is exactly that: background noise. Especially shows or movies that I've seen before that I won't pay attention to. On certain days, I need music that I listen to. Unlike some, I need music with words. I find if there's no words, I get distracted. I start to pay attention because I'm annoyed and WAITING for the words. It's one of the reasons I'm not a fan of the jazz music the coffee shop I frequent plays.
Sometimes when this doesn't work and I'm distracted by every. little. thing. I have to either go for a walk to clear my head or do dishes or shower. I'm not sure what it is about water, but it helps me to focus, especially to plot scenes.
If these don't work...well then, there's nothing I can do and I might as well take a day off. ;)
Thursday, November 3, 2011
2. One step closer to the borg
3. Stretchy solar cells make self-powering 'skin'
4. Mind-reading devices help the speechless speak
5. Brain scans reveal lucid dreaming's sleep cinema
6. Smart chimp gets speech like a human
7. First known Europeans identified
8. Cancer found in 2,000 year old mummy
9. Blood from a stone? No. Blood from a rice? Sure.
10. Eyes are the window to the soul; skin is a window to the brain
11. Vampire-like predatory bacteria could become a living antibiotic
12. Your brain knows a lot more than you realize
13. NASA to develop dust grabbing tractor beams for future missions
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
With Halloween approaching, I've been watching a lot of movies. On Saturday, I had a movieathon and one of the movies I watched was Gremlins, a movie I had always been curious about, but had never watched before. I would have been about 1 when it came out and we grew up in quite the isolated bubble.
In the movie, the furry creature found in an old antique store in Chinatown is called a Mogwai. Given as a Christmas present, the boy was told 3 very specific rules:
1. keep out of sunlight (will kill it)
2. stay away from water
3. do not feed after midnight
Of course, the three rules are broken. The creature, named Gizmo is a cute little brown and white puff ball with large ears and eyes. Almost immediately you learn that light hurts the Mogwai. It burns them. By accident rule number 2 is broken when water spills on top of Gizmo. In what looks like agony, Gizmo screeches and writhes as little balls of fur pop off. These balls grow and within minutes, there are at least 5 more Mogwai. It's clear that these new ones are different. They have gathered and named a leader, a creature with a white mohawk. They are devious and seek out ways to break the third rule and when they eat after midnight, go into a cocoon stage where they transform--coming out hairless and evil. Although, I suppose they were always evil, but the transformation was the peak of it. They go around terrorizing the town and killing the people.
While the movie was fairly entertaining, I had a hard time ignoring how implausible the movie was. Now, I've argued this movie before but I thought maybe there'd be something in the movie that would put aside my sense of disbelief. No.
Rule number 1: Stay out of the light
I was fine with this rule. There are reasons to stay out of direct sun. Albinism being one of them. Not that Gizmo had any signs of it. If he would, he would have been all white and his eyes would have been redish due to lack of pigmentation. Direct sun would have burned and made life difficult. That doesn't mean that he couldn't have been affected by the UV radiation. Maybe Mogwais are highly sensitive to it. Who knows.
Like most things paranormal, the fight between evil vs good is often portrayed with the evil creature being unable to go out into light. The only thing is that Gizmo is not evil and he can't go out in sunlight.
Rule number 2: Do not get wet
This is where things started to get murky. The moment water was poured on Gizmo he began to reproduce. (He's like a tribble from Star Trek.) Yes he. The move refers to Gizmo by the male pronoun. It's not completely unbelievable. There are some creatures where males reproduce-- i.e. Syngnathid fishes such as sea horses. However, the difference here is that there was no female Mogwai to place the eggs in pouches on him. Not that we know of at least. You assume he was the only one in that antique store but reality is that there could have been more. How many people have come back from the pet store only to find out that their guinea pig or hamster was pregnant?
Anyway, little balls of fur popped off and grew. What this tells me, without there being a female (let's assume for the time being since we don't know), we have to assume reproduction is done asexually (in gremlin form, they look almost reptilian and some are known to reproduce asexually so it's not a far leap) in a form of parthenogenesis. If Gizmo had been a female, things could have been explained easier, but he isn't. Unless he's a hermaphrodite and we just don't know about it, then...maybe...
But in the rule, it said very clearly not to get the mogwai wet because it'll cause this reproduction. I fought this rule and argued until my face turned red. I question how the mogwai supposed to stay hydrated? Obviously they wouldn't have a long life expectancy if they can't drink anything).
But, aside from staying alive there's the whole issue with the 'Add Water, Will Reproduce'. However, there have been studies that have shown that chemical or electrical stimuli have been used to cause parthenogenesis in scientific studies. If the mogwai have a natural allergy to water, maybe it created a negative external stimuli, causing this asexual reproduction to occur.
I found a site that suggested that if a mogwai was subjected to water to reproduce, the resulting trauma would affect the offspring. The offspring would be evil. However if a mogwai was prepared and underwent normal reproductive means, then the offspring (Gizmo) would be good. This assumes that they have other means of reproduction. Maybe it's explained in more detail later on in the sequels, but in the first movie, there was no implication whatsoever that they could reproduce any other way other than asexually. I'm also not entirely convinced that the trauma of the 'birth' would affect the resulting offspring that dramatically.
I still think it's crazy, but I'm willing to bend a bit.
Rule number 3: Do not feed after midnight
We know what happens. Feed after midnight and the mogwai goes into a cocoon state where it goes through a metamorphosis into the evil little gremlins. Now there's some debate here on the time. Why? Because technically the day starts at midnight, so when is the proper time to feed it (and what do they eat?)? Are mogwai supposed to never eat? All creatures need to eat and drink to survive. And what about time zones? How does this affect the no eating situation?
But that's not the point. We're not debating whether they eat or not. If you go by the 'trauma caused the evil in the offspring' theory, they would have been evil no matter what, even after they went through the change. I'm not so sure. In the first movie, it implied that eating= evil gremlins. Yes they were devious as furballs, but they weren't trying to kill anyone.
Eating (after midnight), is the catalyst to their transformation into the gremlins. While you don't usually see it in reptiles or mammals, butterflies start off as caterpillars and after a period of eating and whatnot, spins a cocoon and then changes. It could be the same type of transformation.
My only question is what does the transformation offer them that they can't do without fur and looking like Yoda? What do you think?