Survival of the Sickest 7-8

I would say I am sad the book is over, but I cannot lie. In my opinion, the book was hard to read because of Dr. Moalem’s poor writing style, annoying references to pop culture, and jumping train of thought. Despite how good the information was, the writing of the book rendered it a hard task. I suggest Dr. Moalem takes a writing class before he writes his next book.

Chapter 7 was quite interesting. Understanding the epigenomics of DNA, is much more valuable than understanding the genome itself. While the map of the human genome was very helpful, the map of the human epigenome will be far more important. Epigenomics is how outside factors affected the DNA of an embryo during pregnancy. For example, in the book it talked of an experiment where by feeding a pregnant mother something different than its regualr diet, it will actually have a completely different phenotype than the parent. Upon further study it wa shown that a parents acquired characteristics could be passed down to the child rat. This means that before the baby rat is even born it will have the same eating habits of the mother. This is actually astounding considering the theory of acquired characteristics was laughed at in such recent times. This does not mean that the theory of acquired characteristics is right, it only means that it isn’t all wrong.

The final chapter immediately reminded me of the movie Jack, where a poor boy aged 5 times faster than normal. Unfortunately progeria is much worse than 5 times faster. Progeria is rapid aging that can have a boy of 12 feel like a man of 80. Progeria is caused by increasing the speed in which our bodies age till death. I learned that it wasn’t an accident that we die, but we are programmed to die. But after the book teaches me something new, it teaches me something I already know. It described telomeres function other than being junk DNA. But thanks to Ms. Mathew, I already know that cancer has telomerase which extends the telomeres to allow for infiite cell division. I also learned about the hayflick limit, which is where a cell can oly divide a certain amount of times because of its telomeres. For a human this limit is somewhere around 40 to 60 times.

I did have afew questions about the two chapters. The Hayflick limit states that a cell can only divide a certain amount of times. Then how do bacteria cells continue to reproduce past the 40 times? This question is utterly stupid, because bacteria don’t have telomeres, because telomeres are at the end of DNA, and bacteria DNA is circular. The other question is a bit more radical about aging. If our human body is able to speed up the process of aging, isn’t equally possible to slow it down with the methyl markers described in chapter 7? Although this question hasn’t beeen answered yet, nor will it be answered in a for a long time, it will definetly have a big impact.


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