Sunday, July 27, 2008

Changing Your Genes - part 2


A direct link to this video for Changing Your Genes Part 2 is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrYUlbYQuKA

A couple of weeks ago an interesting article appeared in New Scientist magazine that extends a discussion we started in Changing Your Genes. Here's the video blog for that previous entry:


A direct link to this video for Changing Your Genes is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYnmqhm7BIU

That entry was about a new study in which 30 men completely changed their lifestyle, adding plenty of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and meditation or other stress management routines. DNA tests were performed on each man before the experiment began, and again 90 days later after the men had adopted their new program. Here's what was found:

...the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes—including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off. The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In that blog entry, we talked about a breaking down of the old way of thinking: it really is possible to change your genes simply by changing your life, and the idea that we are dealt a specific and unchangeable set of cards in the random shuffle of genetic material that happens at conception is not really the case. Now let's take a look at some amazing findings reported by author Emma Young in the July 12th issue of New Scientist magazine. The article is entitled "Strange Inheritance: It's not just your parents' genes but also their experiences that determine your genetic make-up":
...over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that environmental factors, such as diet or stress, can have biological consequences that are transmitted to offspring... the implications for public health could be immense. Some researchers are talking about a paradigm shift in understanding the causes of diseases.
"Epigenetics" deals with how gene activity is regulated within a cell--which genes are switched on or off, which are dimmed and how, and when all this happens.
The article explains that the new science of epigenetics looks at the factors which cause certain genes to be expressed while others remain dormant: a commonly known example of this is the honeybee. All female honeybees in a hive develop from genetically identical larvae, but those that are fed on royal jelly develop into fertile queens, while the rest grow to become sterile worker bees. In other words, what a honeybee eats causes some genes to switch on and others to switch off: and the study with the men quoted in my previous blog would be one example of many of how this can happen in human beings too.

What does all this have to with Imagining the Tenth Dimension? We've spent a lot of time with this project talking about genes, memes, and spimes as being useful devices for thinking about the connections that happen across time and space. In blog entries like "The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea", we've talked about the fact that there are many branches to our reality, and the "old" way of thinking about time as being a single and unchanging line from the big bang to the end of the universe is a sadly limited distortion of what's really happening. Now, with the idea of epigenetics showing us important additional factors in how we can change how our genes are expressed, and how are genes are passed on to our offspring, we have a similar concept: in the same way that our line of time looks very limited when viewed from the fourth-dimensional perspective, our genes also look much more limited than they really are when we don't think about the branching possibilities that are actually defining our reality - not just from this moment forward, but at least in part in the reverse direction as well.

For persons trapped in a negative pattern, it can be very easy to declare that there's no way out. For persons who believe that there is only one line of time or one way of living the life defined by their genes or their upbringing, addiction and depression can be the end of them. My song "Addictive Personality" is about those ideas, and how a worldview that acknowledges that with the many possible "now"s that are coming towards us from the available probability space of Everett's Many Worlds, there can be reason for hope even when things seem their darkest.

A direct link to this video for Addictive Personality is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFvsd6IUoH4

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Randomness and the Missing 96 percent

1 comment:

V said...

I really enjoyed this post. I liked the part 1 in how it showed that we don't necessarily need technology to enhance our DNA. I think you would enjoy the book, "The Cosmic Serpent: DNA And The Origins Of Knowledge" by Jeremy Narby. I've provided a link to a recent Q&A with him on his book. When asked to sum up his book he says, "Research indicates that shamans access an intelligence, which they say is nature's, and which gives them information that has stunning correspondences with molecular biology."

Enjoy.
http://deoxy.org/narbystew.htm

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