Friday, June 24, 2011

Genes Upon Genes, Dreams within Dreams

In class today we discussed the results of our electrophoresis analysis of methylation restriction. No one had gotten an ideal gel, but we did learn that the error was caused by partial methylation, where methyl groups did not bind to every restriction site for the enzyme we were using. I had the misconception that the methylase that attached the methyl group to the restriction site was an enzyme that digested the restriction enzyme. After a long discussion of application of electrophoresis, Professor Hall showed the class a Nova documentary called The Ghost in Our Genes.

The film addressed the problem observed when one identical twin with the same genome as the other twin had a disorder. The scientists concluded that there was something above the gene or the epigene that controlled the expression and suppression of genes. One example of the epigene was the type of nurturing in a mouse—how a nurtured mouse would be calmed with higher levels of a certain chemical, while a less nurtured mouse was stressed with smaller levels of a certain chemical. Some scientists used the information that the genome is controlled by chemicals to temporarily treat a disorder or cancerous tissue. While another scientist investigated how chemicals in one generation affected later generations. I was amazed to find out that there can be something acquired from the environment that is passed from generation to generation—genes cannot, but what manipulates the genes can. It puts a new perspective on life; every mistake you make is not just limited to your lifetime but the future family you will never see.

Speaking of levels upon levels, I watched Inception tonight. I must agree that the movie has fantastic style, which leaves the viewer trying to figure out what everything represents and the significance of the order of scenes. I have already seen Inception once before tonight, but I find new lines, new actions and new scenes. I still wonder whether the top ever fell; the optimistic response is that it did fall, while the pessimistic (pragmatic) answer is that it did not fall. I personally think it did not fall and the director wanted to satisfy the audience with the wobble at the end, so then Cobb has a chance at a happy ending. I think it was entirely a dream because it was never his totem to begin with, which would alter his reality—he could have wanted that presumed dream to be a reality, then his mind manipulated the top so it would stop. He could have created his own idea because he could never have the reality he wanted. I am comfortable with both sides of the argument and enjoyed a well developed action movie.

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