Here’s a talk I just gave on Big Think–about viruses, synthetic biology, and tapeworms that carry my name. The sound quality isn’t as good as I’d like, but I hope the words make up for it.
Has there been research on the relation between viruses and epigenetics?For example, with identical twins would it be possible to trace exposure to flus in childhood and then track changes in the behavior of the twins over time – one becoming gay and the other straight for example. Perhaps there’s a relationship between external viruses and the 8% of our genome that are “dormant” viruses, and that relationship effects epigenetic triggers that turn genes on and off.
When observable behaviors neither advance the survival of the species nor the survival of the individual organism, the possibility that the behavior is being driven by parasites or pathogens provides a scientifically credible explanation. Several years ago, a “thought experiment” led me to formulate this possibility, so it is very exciting to hear a discussion along these lines. I, too, would be interested in the state of the research.
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Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The Loom. He is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.