What did you find out? It has completely taken popular culture by storm. Each trait is typically influenced by hundreds or thousands of different genes, and the environment in which those genes are acting makes all the difference to how we turn out. The links between genes and intelligence or race are still hotly debated.
Share via Email Carl Zimmer: They are our cousins, descending from a common ancestor that lived million years ago. I think that CRISPR is going to allow scientists who are tinkering with crops and livestock to make some really dramatic changes.
A team of Spanish scientists has provided us with a glimpse of that story.
In the short term, that had a terrible social impact, because several scientists and politicians felt we knew enough to control heredity for the betterment of society: I thought this was pointless. This is his 13th book.
Say someone finds they are part Italian when they thought they were just German and Irish. If this were true, it would mean that some of the genetic wherewithal to build a primitive hand was already present in our fishy ancestors.
That family tree is pretty much impossible to draw. We tend to imagine that we inherit particular genes from our parents, grandparents and so on, and that these shape us in ways that are easy to understand and trace.
Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement In addition to CRISPR, you talked about recent research where scientists take skin cells from mice, make them into stem cells and then in turn make those into sperm or eggs. Scientists have found that many of the same genes switch on in the limb buds of tetrapod embryos.
Then you fertilize another egg created this way, and you do that for a few generations. This conversation has been edited and condensed. Remember this is an embryo that has never turned into an adult. A million-year-old fossil discovered incalled Tiktaalik, had these long bones, with smaller bones at the end that carl zimmer science writers to our wrist.
The more we understand about how heredity actually works and about our own values about heredity, the better experience we have of these things. I came away really scratching my head over the paradox of nature versus nurture.
The endochondral bone expanded, and the fin rays shrank back, creating a new structure known as a lobe fin. That would mean any ancestor of, say, Aborigines in Australia must also be an ancestor to all of the Hasidic Jews.
If you want to really see all your DNA down to the very last letter, you need to go to whole genome sequencing.
We did not evolve from zebrafishes. It provides some strong evidence for one of the mutations that turned fins into tetrapod limbs. I felt very ashamed and irresponsible, because here was this child who would be inheriting a lot of my genes.
The scientists waited for the fishes to start developing their normal fin. They switch on still other genes, unleashing a cascade of biochemistry. Perhaps, some scientists speculated, fishes today might still carry that hidden potential.
As a fish embryo grows, it develops bumps on its sides. It then shut off, as it does in fish. Instead, this experiment provides a clue and a surprise. The fins of bony fishes alive today—like salmon or goldfish—are still built according to the same basic recipe.
Imagine you have an invasive species; potentially eradicating it by using CRISPR to spread a gene around that causes sterility or infertility or so on. It could be dangerous though, because those genes might spread to a closely related species that you actually want to save, and nobody knows how easy it could be to pull back CRISPR once you release it into the wild like that.
But the counsellor started asking me questions and I suddenly realised I had a really terrible grasp of my family history. Do you get the shot? Before getting into the details of the new experiment, leap back with me million years ago. Before then, they were fins, which your fishy ancestors used to swim through oceans and rivers.
Imagine one man takes a cheek scraping, turns them into stem cells, turns some of those cells into sperm and eggs, fertilizes the eggs with the sperm, and that turns into an embryo.
It interfered with other proteins in the embryos, and they died.By Carl Zimmer. From time to time, I get letters from people thinking seriously about becoming science writers.
So my on-the-job training in science writing started in the antediluvian age. It is a collection of work that reveals just how fortunate we are to have a science writer like Carl who possesses such passion and efficiency.
Planet of Viruses is Zimmer. Carl Zimmer’s Brief Guide to Writing Explainers. July 7, Carl Zimmer. Courtesy of Carl Zimmer.
Carl Zimmer. Imagine you’re a crime reporter writing a story about a shooting at a nightclub. Now imagine that none of your readers know what a gun is.
Welcome to the science writer’s dilemma. Jun 19, · Science.
Subscribe Log In. Subscribe Log In. Advertisement. Supported by. Matter. This Is Your Brain on Writing. By Carl Zimmer. June 20, ; This Is Your Brain on Writing. Order. Carl Zimmer (born ) is a popular science writer and blogger who has specialized in the topics of evolution and mint-body.com has authored many books and contributes science essays to publications such as The New York Times, Discover, and National Geographic.
He is a fellow at Yale University's Morse College. Zimmer describes his. I am a science columnist for The New York Times and author of 13 books about science, including Parasite Rex, Evolution: Making Sense of Life, and.Download