People may object to my calling for Ph.D. programs in Theoretical Phys Ed and Quantum Paleontology, but humor is not far off the mark. Evolutionary psychology, for example, is practically self-ridiculing.
But I was somewhat intrigued by recent research I saw about stress being a genetic issue and the person behind it called it theoretical evolutionary biology. This concerns me on a few levels; first, evolutionary biology has detractors by a fringe religious minority obsessed with what Darwin did not know 150 years ago so slapping the word 'theoretical' in front of evolutionary biology will make people think 'made up', like people do about a lot of the more obscure physics ideas, which is more hypothetical than theoretical.
Worse, this supposed theoretical conclusion, which will make people believe there is more than one theory of evolution, is not a conclusion based on any research except a meta-analysis of other studies. And it's under the guise of epigenetics, which will cause even more confusion. Let's see if we can clear it up.
Wil Farrell introduces us to quantum paleontology.
What is epigenetics?
If you are interested in creating a Master Race, you will love the idea of epigenetics. Epigenetics says you can alter your DNA environmentally to such an extent it is heritable - for example, while a pregnant woman with a bad diet may cause issues for a baby, epigenetics believes even behavior in early life will have an impact on offspring. How positively Lamarckian! Basically, researchers in epigenetics contend your environment can leave genetic imprints on the genetic material in eggs and sperm - but they aren't really changes in the genetic code. Instead, patterns of gene expression are in cellular material on top of the genome. Evolution becomes a matter of chemistry and no longer takes years.
Back to business. The theoretical evolutionary biologist who did the meta analysis is Prof. Eva Jablonka of Tel Aviv University's Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideasan epigenetics conference in North Carolina, sher meta-analysis found more than 100 examples of living organisms, from bacteria to human beings, demonstrating how our genes' expression can be altered and inherited.
"I am a story teller. I read a lot of information and develop theories about evolution. For the last 25 years, before it became a fad, I was interested in the transmission of information not dependent on DNA variations," Jablonka says. "Epigenetic inheritance is information about us that is not explicitly encoded in our genes. Two individuals may have identical genes, but the genes present very different characteristics. They can be genetically identical but different epigenetically."
Well, I appreciate a great narrative but saying stress and environmental factors will cause inheritance problems will take a little more to be convincing - it's hypothetical rather than theoretical at this point - but when that understanding comes, obviously genome-wide reprogramming of DNA can have enormous value in medicine. The big promise of epigenetics is not so much the heritability as the reversibility. DNA methylation alters gene function so if processes hidden inside cells can be influenced by lifestyle and disease, they can also be changed back. Likewise, we know stress is bad even if passing on stress DNA to your kids remains hypothetical, so less of it is going to pay dividends.
Some things can't be avoided in the modern world. Androgen suppressors, like some pesticides and fungicides, can have effects on gene expression
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- 3X Saturated Fat In The Diet Doesn't Increase It In Blood
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Genetic Clues Of Severe Food Allergy
- Still No Contact with NASA's Sun-watching Probe
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- Is Religion A Consolation Worth Having?
- Why Computer Programs Can't Understand Truth - And Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence Babies
- "As an earlier cigarette smoker and now e-cig smoker, I can confirm they don't help you quit. As..."
- "Reality? What is reality if you use irrational arguments to justify man's cruelty toward..."
- "Always loved the Heels that showed of the instep (arches) ..."
- "By the way, I am a fan of your blog. It's one of the few places I can follow physics without getting..."
- "Hello Anon,you're entirely right, it's arbitrary and it does not provide protection against cases..."
- Gene in kidney may play role in high blood pressure
- Panel-based genetic diagnostic testing for inherited eye disease proves highly accurate
- Research finds tooth enamel fast-track in humans
- Good news for cocaine users: Caffeine counters cocaine's effects on women's estrus cycles
- Clipping proteins that package genes may limit abnormal cell growth in tumors
Books By Writers Here