If just one of the genes that helps build the language areas of the brain doesn’t work for whatever reason, then the whole system fails. There would be no gossip, no chit-chat, no watercooler wit, no bar-room banter. The lesson learned by scientists studying the gene FOXP2 in members of a family who have inherited a problem. A case study in writing the right headline for your science blog post…one commenter on the original article even asked if the twitter gene was one and the same as the search engine optimisation (SEO) gene. Of course, it isn’t another commenter pointed out that’s BLSHT2. And in an article with such a well-honed link bait title, one must assume it is highly up-regulated.
- The Brain: The Language Fossils Buried in Every Cell of Your Body (discovermagazine.com)
- DNA sequenced of woman who lived to 115 (bbc.co.uk)
- DNA of ‘world’s oldest woman’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Synaptic spaghetti with extra actin sauce makes you smart (genes2brains2mind2me.com)
- Black Death not initiated by a plasmid OR a moron? Turns out it *we* were the morons! [erv] (scienceblogs.com)
- The same gene promotes prostate cancer and prevents breast cancer [Genetics] (io9.com)
One of the later comments offers a nice allegory on genetics and genetic modification. It’s from someone going by the name of “BillyBobLiar”:
“There are two cars, one faster than the other. I remove a screw from the engine of the fast car. It now goes the same speed as the other car. I show the screw to my friend and say ‘ this piece is what makes the fast car go faster’. ‘You think?’ says my friend. He goes to the slow car and returns with a similar screw. ‘How do you explain this then?’ he asks, ‘the slow car has the same piece’. I say ‘aha! If you looks closely, you will see that they are different at the top. One has a cross and the other just has a line’. ‘I see’ he says, ‘so this piece is what makes the fast car fast, and it can do so because it has a cross on the top and not a line’. ‘Yes’ I say.
Later that evening my friend calls me. ‘I’ve had a great idea’ he says. ‘What?’ I say. ‘Well, if we put the piece with the cross into slow car, it should also become fast’ he says. ‘That sounds about right’ I say, ‘we’ll try it in the morning’. ‘I can’t wait’ he says.”