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So What is Epigenetics Anyway – Part 6?

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In this final part of the series, we ask the question, “Where is evolution taking us?” Scientists have always thought that evolution was strictly a random change to our DNA that changed us forever. Are we changing only by random changes to our DNA? I don’t think so. I believe our epigenetic program can also be changed. Our minds are changing us much faster than evolution ever did. Look at all the artificial parts we make for humans, legs, arms, hearts, etc. If our bodies became more machine, how would that change us? That is the question philosophers ask all the time. I think we are much more than the mere flesh that makes up our bodies. Epigenetics is an amazing part of us. What do we know?

We are made of a community of cells (we have more cells in our bodies than there are animals on the Earth). Each cell is a living organism that makes decisions, reproduces, eats, gets rid of waste and communicates with other cells. This community makes you unique. Where we are going is for the science fiction writers to dream up and the scientists to discover. For sure we have evolved from no cellular organisms to cells, to multicellular creatures, all the way up to humans. This is NOT the end. We are still evolving in new ways. In 1,000 years we won’t recognise ourselves at that time. Evolution is not over, we are not the end product of evolution. We are just a step to the future of mankind. After all Early man could not have imagined modern man.

Enjoy your health and your life!

 

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Why do Smart Cells Produce such Dumb Creatures?

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picture of complex cells

picture of complex cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our cells started out as single cell organisms billions of years ago. They got smarter as they evolved into more complex organisms. They learned that grouping together helped their chances of survival. As they grouped into multi-cell creatures, they got more complex. They need to assign different tasks to different cells. Evolution continued creating bigger and more complex creatures up through humans. Our cells communicate with each other, some are blood cells, others muscle and still others skin cells. The complex task of keeping us alive is divided among many different types of cells. How could such smart cells create such dumb humans? We know smoking is cancers but we still smoke. We know eating healthy will make us healthy but we still eat junk. We know that living in peace is a better way of life for all but we still age war. We are not the simple sum of our parts.

Is Technology our Evolutionary Legacy?

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PhotonQ-Homer' s Evolution Theory

Image by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via Flickr

We are the only creatures that have managed to build technology, at least on this planet. We are building more and more sophisticated computers. Most scientists believe its only time until we build a computer with real intelligence. Will it have self-awareness? Maybe we are just following an evolutionary plan that started with DNA, evolved into epigenetics, created a brain and now has created technology that may be able to think. If this happens they may be as different from us as chimps are from us. One thing is for sure, epigenetics is a powerful tool and we should learn to use it to stay healthy and elliminate diseases. That also may be our destiny.

He’s Not a Chimp, He’s My Brother

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A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London

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On my way home from Rome this past Sunday, I looked around the plane and couldn’t help but think how similar and different we all are. We have 99.9% the same DNA as each other yet we have no problem telling family and friends from strangers. But then chimps have about 99% the same DNA as humans. Does that .1% really make the difference? I don’t think so. It is now understood that epigenetics play our DNA in different ways. So chimps with nearly the same DNA have drastically different epigenetics and get built differently than humans. Life started with simple DNA components, amino acids, then virus and bacteria and then single cells. Each was an advance in epigenetics that took the organism to the next level of evolution. Epigenetics played and even more significant role as cells grouped together to form more complex organisms. It gave each type of cell special encoding to do different jobs (e.g. blood vs. muscle vs. skin, etc). Where is the logic in this evolutionary plan kept? There would seem to be a programming language that changes epigenetic and genetic roles as evolution continues on its way. Are we the last stage of evolution? I don’t think so. We now have genetics, epigenetics and the brain’s neural network all changing who we are and how we operate. Tomorrow we will continue on this topic with a possible next step in evolution.

Epigenetics Is a Dual Purpose System

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The structure of evolutionary biology and its ...

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Dr. Eva Jablonka from Israel speaks about the dual purpose of epigenetics. It is an evolutionary system and a response system to environmental changes. As an evolutionary system it is involved in how we change over long periods of time along with DNA modifications. As a response system it reacts in real time to changes in our diet, thought, stress, etc.