Archive for January, 2011

Genetics – Where are the missing mutations?

I have been thinking a little about Genetics lately.  As usual questions pop into my head that make me wonder.

This time I began to wonder about the missing mutations.

Mutations are supposedly random variations in the DNA resulting in a variation in the population (people or beetles or whatever) these mutations can either be successful or fail.

For example if a mutation in a beetle makes it brown and birds don’t see it as well against the earth, so more brown beetles survive than say bright red beetles then eventually all the beetles will become brown. That’s a success story, mind you the mutation that caused red beetles is  a failed mutation as the beetle was easily seen and therefore the population of red beetles was diminished.

These mutations must be occurring all the time, but we don’t see that. Why?

Surely say in a population of six billion people we should see huge numbers of genetic variations. Why don’t we see evidence of constant change. why are man and other animals so stable?

These are my as yet unanswered questions.

  • Why don’t we see more evidence of genetic mutations?
  • Why is the gene pool so stable?
  • Why don’t we see more variation in things like skin colour, surely these are simple genetic mutations that would be occurring all the time?
  • When a genetic failure occurs (red beetles) is there some sort of memory of this failure, does our DNA remember to give up on red and not try it again.

It would appear there are rules around genetic mutation, what can be tried what can’t be tried. When something is a failure or when it should continue to develop. If so where are the rules?

Lets look at a finger. One genetic mutation could involve the complete copy of an existing finger or toe.  Yes we see these today, but why does it happen so completely? I mean not only is a sixth finger or toe developed but it works, it has blood flow it has nerves and the brain copes with it and can even sometimes manipulate it. how is it so complete?

What about the original finger, I assume it started out as slight bump. what stopped it growing into a gangling lump of useless flesh. Something that didn’t actually help the person but didn’t actually cause any issues so didn’t cause a reduced chance of mating. At what time is a genetic variation considered a success.

Why aren’t we covered or full of genetic mutations and variations that don’t actually do anything?

It would appear to me that “random mutations” raises many more issues than it resolves.

When is being mystical not mystical

I had an interesting conversation with my sister today.

As some background my family are all very religious (various flavours of Christianity) but I am not.

Anyway we were speaking of our father who has some lets say unusual beliefs, he had told us about these ‘omens’ things that had happened during his life which leads him to believe his latest fantasy. He wants to go to Israel to visit the ‘motherland’ before he dies. That would be cool except he is not a Jew.  he is desperately searching our family tree to find something that says we have a Jewish lineage, we don’t.

Any way that’s an aside my sister said that she was concerned about dad and his belief in the mystical. He definitely doesn’t believe in speaking to the dead (except in prayers) or reading palms or crystals or anything like that. it was just the ‘omens’ that seemed to trigger that comment.

My reply was, yes its a shame the whole family is subject to that. She seemed taken aback and said, Who? I replied we all are, some more than others. to which she replied you can count me out of that, to which I replied “No! I can’t”.

I don’t think she was impressed.

So when is mystical not mystical?

  • It’s when you prayer to an unseen unknown figure (presumably in the sky) who supposedly made everything.
  • It’s when you believe in the “power of prayer” to cure incurable diseases.
  • yada yada yada I am sure you get the idea…

So religious people aren’t mystical? Sorry! Nope you are right there with ‘other’ faith healers, shamans, diviners and palm readers.

Yada Yada Yada Blah Blah Blah

I was at the beach one day talking to my sister, her 4 year old son Joshua was sitting in the sand nearby. on hearing me talk to his mother he turned and said… yada yada yada blah blah blah.

From that moment on I had to use it for something!.

Homosexuals are proof of God!

I never thought my first religious post would about proving Gods existence. Rather I thought it would be about the opposite.

I had the strangest thought this morning while pondering genetics and evolution. Evolution trials various genetic mutations at random, those that improve the mating opportunities result in the strengthening of the genetic mutation, on the other hand those that make the organism an easier predatory target reduces the population with that gene, thus reducing mating opportunities resulting in a weaker gene.

This is an overly simplified example. For a simple introduction check out this site.

So what was this insight?

I believe many gays are born that way, they are genetically predisposed to being gay. Some make it a life choice, but you must already be inclined that way before you can make it a life choice, so genetics play a role in those decisions too.

If homosexuality is the result of genetic mutation. rather than purely environmental reasons. in other words being born gay…

Then the logical conclusion of that is that Homosexuals prove the existence of God.

Gays do not and cannot mate and produce gay offspring. Therefore what strengthens the gay attributes? Surely mating would result in the weakening of the genes involved and therefore homosexuality would be a ‘failed’ genetic variation.

Therefore this aspect of of humanity cannot be caused by evolution and must be the result of “intelligent design” i.e. God created homosexuals.

I am am sorry to all those Christians and other religions that believe homosexuality is against gods law. How can it be if God made them that way?

Of course the flip side is that God had nothing to do with anything and that the “Gay” Gene is so predominant because its easy for the mutation that suppresses a man’s manliness to occur rather than die out.

In case you are curious…

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Queensland Floods

Sad that my very first post has to be about the devastation in Queensland Australia at the current moment.

If you have not watched much news. you may not be aware of what’s going on, but major portions of Queensland are under flood.

I have family in Queensland. as far as I know they are all safe. although I haven’t been able to contact my sister. she is in a safe area and her house is on a small hill safe from flood waters and land subsidence. I am assuming the reason for no contact is the loss of communications. (Update: Sis is fine problem was miscommunication not lack of communication).

So far 10 people are confirmed dead, but a lot more are expected.

As far as scale the loss of life will be minor compared to other disasters such as the Victorian fires, but it makes this disaster no less overwhelming.

The saddest aspect of this apart from the obvious loss of life is reading some peoples comments in various newspaper comment sections. I cannot believe people who call themselves Australian could possibly utter such words. Australia was built on mate ship and giving a helping hand. To those people who feel that way Please feel free to return to your country of origin. and if indeed you were born in Australia you should hang your heads in the deepest shame. you are not fit to be called Australian.

Some images…

From a financial point of view this will impact Australia and the world for months, possibly years to come.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what’s going on

1,000,000: The area in square kilometres (approximately) affected by the flooding. That’s larger than France and Germany combined and 10 per cent larger than British Columbia.

200,000: The number of people affected by the floods.

10 million: The number in tonnes of the country’s wheat crop that has been downgraded to less than milling quality because of rain damage. That’s equal to half the country’s wheat crop.

343: The number of millimetres of rain that hit some areas of Queensland in a 24-hour period ending Jan. 10, 2011.

150: The number of millimetres of rain that fell in half an hour near the city of Toowoomba on Monday.

10: The number of people killed during a flash flood that followed that deluge of rainfall. A day later, 78 more people were still listed as missing.

22: The number of towns or cities that are either substantially flooded or isolated.

45: The percentage increase in the global grain prices because of the flood damage to Australia’s wheat crop.

30: The percentage by which food prices in Australia could rise, according to investment bank JP Morgan.

20: The percentage of all crops in Queensland that have been wiped out by the floods.

$10 billion: Estimated damage caused by the floods — so far.

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