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DannyL
22-03-2010, 12:44 PM
I don’t know enough about evolutionary science to really write that much informed about it, but this story is blowing my mind:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong

Particularly this bit:

“But Lamarck was scorned for a much more general apparent mistake: the idea that lifestyle might be able to influence heredity. "Today," notes David Shenk, "any high school student knows that genes are passed on unchanged from parent to child, and to the next generation and the next. Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

What?! It turns out Lamarck was right (or at least not totally wrong). The one thing this article doesn’t get over is what a major, major heresy this is – Lamarck is often wheeled out as an example of “bad science” and is generally extremely reviled. And for the article to state that such a key tenet of evolutionary theory (the inviolability of the gene) is now up for questioning – it’s a major revolution in thinking.

The article has lots of other good stuff to say as well. Well worth a read.

Mr. Tea
22-03-2010, 03:15 PM
Fascinating stuff, Dan. I've been hearing bits and pieces along these lines for a few years and it's very interesting, especially in as much as it applies to humans.

It's a typically hyperobolic headline, though - clearly not "everything we've been told about evolution is wrong", as this new research hardly overturns Darwinian evolution-by-natural-selection. Rather, it's an adjunct to it. It's important not to overstate or simplify the Darwinian picture; for example, no-one thinks genes are "inviolate" - we've known for decades that genes can mutate at any given cell division and it's these mutations (as well as the mixing of genes during sexual reproduction) that give rise to variation in the first place, which natural selection then acts on.

This sentence is very telling, especially the bit I've highlighted:


What if Darwin's theory of evolution or, at least, Darwin's theory of evolution as most of us learned it at school and believe we understand it is, in crucial respects, not entirely accurate?

Thing is, most science that we learn at school isn't entirely accurate. In fact some of it is plain untrue. Atoms do not consist of electrons 'orbiting' nuclei like a miniature solar system; nuclei do not consist of a hard cluster of ('elementary') protons and neutrons like billiard balls that have been glued together - and an organism's biology is not determined uniquely by its nuclear DNA (mitochondrial DNA has been known about for ages, for example). And we've known for a long time that the environment can directly affect genes, rather than just their likelihood of being passed on, by inflicting chemical damage that causes mutations.

DannyL
22-03-2010, 04:03 PM
Yeah, I recognise the hyperbole – and the false claims of the headline. The author writes a kind of summing of his reading in the self-help field every Saturday in the magazine – I quite enjoy it but he's obviously not a hard scientist and he gets a right shoeing in the comments boxes.

Having said that I liked a lot of what he said – criticism of pop-Darwinism and the way that evolutionary psychology is used in a “just so” story sense to apply to the most banal situations.

I]we've known for a long time that the environment can directly affect genes, rather than just their likelihood of being passed on, by inflicting chemical damage that causes mutations[/I]

As I said above what shocked me was the mention of Lamarck who, IIRC, claimed he had bred certain traits into toads which were then passed down to the generations, implying that the genetic structure had been altered by this process. it’s cited in Koestler’s book “The Case of the Mid-Wife Toad”. I thought he was a bit of a scientific bogeyman, much mocked and maligned.
The thing that got me about the article is not a challenge to “Darwinism” as such (I could care less about ideological pissing battles) but just that such a central key idea – genes do not adapt and create positive traits that are passed down due to environment – could now be questioned struck me as remarkably odd. Seems to me to such a radical shift, and very different from my previous understanding of genetics. Very possibly, this is just my ignorance and the idea has been around for awhile.

Also, surely “chemical damage” is very different from positive adaption and the passing on of said trait?

Mr. Tea
01-04-2010, 03:20 PM
If you want to hear something that'll freak you out - I read recently about the discovery of a piece of snake DNA found in modern ruminants (cattle/bison/sheep/goats), that seems to have been transferred horizontally by a virus around 40 MY ago (the last common ancestor of modern mammals and reptiles lived hundreds of MY ago, by contrast). I mean, horizontal gene transfer between microbes is one thing, but between eukaryotic (multi-cellular) organisms it's just fucking nuts. And awesomely cool, I think.

Apparently this discovery isn't even that new - I did a quick google and it's mentioned in this article from ten years ago. (http://spreadingscience.com/gems/NEWSLETTER/duck.html)

nomadthethird
01-04-2010, 03:39 PM
Interesting thread... but Lamark is still wrong.

Acquired characteristics are not passed down genetically, which was the focal point of his theory of evolution. A gamete's genes can acquire new characteristics that the parents didn't contribute to it (called "non-parental" or "recomibinant" sequences) through a process called "crossing over" during Prophase I of meiosis. Basically, homologous chromosomes can form "chiasmata" (little crosses) when they meet, and then the arm of the cross can switch to the other chromosome, which recomibines the gene sequences on the chromosomes from the mother and father.

A lot of geneticists think crossing over is an even bigger source of variation in eukaryotes than other forms of mutation (deletion, translocation, inversion, trisomy, aneuploidy).

Edit: In my experience, Lamark actually gets a lot of credit, if for nothing other than the fact that his research greatly influenced Darwin's theories.

Mr. Tea
01-04-2010, 03:59 PM
A gamete's genes can acquire new characteristics that the parents didn't contribute to it (called "non-parental" or "recomibinant" sequences) through a process called "crossing over" during Prophase I of meiosis. Basically, homologous chromosomes can form "chiasmata" (little crosses) when they meet, and then the arm of the cross can switch to the other chromosome, which recomibines the gene sequences on the chromosomes from the mother and father.


Interesting...so does this process 'remix' codons into new genes, or just mix existing genes into new sequences? And if it's the latter, how does this differ from normal sexual reproduction, whereby the two parents' genes get mixed up anyway? Is it a different degree of mixing, something like that?

nomadthethird
01-04-2010, 05:04 PM
Interesting...so does this process 'remix' codons into new genes, or just mix existing genes into new sequences? And if it's the latter, how does this differ from normal sexual reproduction, whereby the two parents' genes get mixed up anyway? Is it a different degree of mixing, something like that?

I think I just answered this question on my genetics test.

Basically, what's getting mixed up is the sequences of codons. But genes are just sequences of codons. Usually, an entire gene or set of genes "crosses over" during homologous recombination. And most genes have, in humans, something like 3k bp (so 1000 codons).

The method of mixing is different in XX and XY individuals, although I'd wager the degree is similar. Some people may argue that XY individuals get less crossing over in the gametes, because the X and the Y are so asymmetrical in size. I'm not entirely sure if that's the case, but it seems plausible.
The autosomal cells of an XY individual, of course, still gets plenty of crossing over.

Anyway, females get one X from mom, one X from dad. Males get one X from mom and a Y from dad. What's interesting is that, if gene expression of both X chromosomes in females were left unchecked, women would have far more variation than men and an excess of gene expression. So in order to control gene dosage in XX individuals, there's this process whereby one allele on every X chromosome (either the one from mom or the one from dad) gets randomly shut off. The shut off alleles are called Barr bodies.

If you think about it, this means that women are basically combinations of their grandmothers' genes, put through a blender, with each gene containing one activated allele from either grandmother, randomly assorted into a human being. Men, on the other hand, are much more like their maternal grandmothers or mothers than they are their grandfathers, genetically: most of the genes for brain function, and traits related to personality, are on the X. The Y only codes for a few traits, and the rest of the stuff on it is hormone regulatory stuff and a bunch of repeating sequences that don't seem to have a function (tho I'm sure they'll discover one sooner or later).

This makes perfect sense when I apply it to people I know. I look like a combination of my grandmothers. My brother looks much more like my mother's side of the family than he does my father's. But the margin of error here is rather large...

Mr. Tea
01-04-2010, 05:12 PM
Interesting...thanks for that.

Yeah, you can't really read too much into familial resemblances I think - my brother and I are startlingly dis-similar in looks, each of us is convinced the other was found in a basket or something.

nomadthethird
01-04-2010, 05:31 PM
Sorry, I still didn't address part of that question.

Every gene has one allele from mom and one from dad. So every gene is already "mixed". Crossing over just recombines what's already mixed, to form even more novel combinations.

nomadthethird
01-04-2010, 05:37 PM
Interesting...thanks for that.

Yeah, you can't really read too much into familial resemblances I think - my brother and I are startlingly dis-similar in looks, each of us is convinced the other was found in a basket or something.

Yes, and it's important to remember that the genes that code for things you can't see are often a lot just as important as the ones that code for the visible phenotypes, in terms of function and viability.

What's really fascinating is how X-linked traits work. Men are more often colorblind not because it's a Y-linked trait, but because it's X-linked. This happens because of the asymmetry of the X an Y. The Y has no gene for colorblindness. So if your mother gives you one allele for colorblindness, you're going to be colorblind. There's no chance dad's allele can save you from it.

Mr. Tea
01-04-2010, 05:37 PM
Ah, that's news to me - I was still working on the high-school-biology basis that you get this gene from ma, that gene from pa...and alleles goes kinda beyond my knowledge altogether.

Still, it's a neat illustration of the school-science-lie principle I mentioned upthread.

Edit: hang on, I'm just being dense here, aren't I - we all have two copies of each gene, of course, except those on the sex chromosomes in the case of men. Two copies which may be the same or different. Sorry, it was the word 'allele' that threw me.

nomadthethird
01-04-2010, 05:45 PM
Ah, that's news to me - I was still working on the high-school-biology basis that you get this gene from ma, that gene from pa...and alleles goes kinda beyond my knowledge altogether.

Still, it's a neat illustration of the school-science-lie principle I mentioned upthread.

Edit: hang on, I'm just being dense here, aren't I - we all have two copies of each gene, of course, except those on the sex chromosomes in the case of men. Two copies which may be the same or different. Sorry, it was the word 'allele' that threw me.

Close...it's one copy of each gene, each gene has two alleles, except in the case of men on the sex chromosomes.

I know, it's confusing.

What's worse is the "distinction" between sister chromatids and chromosomes. It took me a few weeks to work that one out. That or when they give you this:

AaBB x aaBb

and make you work out three generations of offspring in the proper mathematical ratios-- once with linkage, once without, once with linkage and crossing over

grizzleb
01-04-2010, 06:34 PM
The old punnet square eh. As invented by the same guy who made strawberry punnets I'm let to believe.

Mr. Tea
01-04-2010, 06:45 PM
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4SA2peIqZmQ/Sqkk_O4AeLI/AAAAAAAAC5E/IR2XLHPGmrw/s400/xkcd+date+between+biologists+discussing+Punnett+Sq uares.png

padraig (u.s.)
02-04-2010, 07:44 AM
I have also been doing this stuff all semester.


Interesting...so does this process 'remix' codons into new genes, or just mix existing genes into new sequences? And if it's the latter, how does this differ from normal sexual reproduction, whereby the two parents' genes get mixed up anyway? Is it a different degree of mixing, something like that?

meiosis is a part of human sexual reproduction, or at least the precursor - it's the formation of the gametes (i.e., sperm or egg, depending) which will eventually fuse during fertilization to form a zygote. as nomad alluded to, crossing over is more the exchange of entire genes (or alleles) than a remixing of the primary DNA sequence, which would be more in the realm of mutation. one important thing to remember is that coding DNA only makes up ~1.5% of the human genome, so a lot of times you're just swapping around non-coding stuff (tho a fair portion of that has other functions, usually something to do w/regulation). when genes are swapped, there's ways that you can actually measure they physical distance between them on the chromosome, depending on how often the traits they code for are expressed in a population.

& to your original point - you're correct, epigenetics are a more of a corollary to Darwin - it goes w/o saying that none of this would give Richard Dawkins a fit as the author of that stupid article suggests - than a refutation. what defines epigenetic is that there is an alteration w/no change to the primary DNA sequence, usually involves some kind of change to the actual structure of the chromosome, i.e. DNA methylation (gene silencing) or modifications to the histones in nucleosomes. where it gets tricky is all the mutual effects that different things have on each other - that's molecular biology, there's a million things & most of them are acting on each other somehow & it can be a real bastard to figure out what's doing what to what. a lot of it's not that well understood. I guess the big idea is that people thought to alter gene expression you had to alter the DNA sequence & then epigentics came along & was like "no, there's this kooky back door, check it out." that's another biology,thing, there's not all hard & fast rules & equations like physics - I mean, we have to follow rules (most of them made up by physicists), but a lot of times if you ask a biologist a question s/he'll be like "I don't know. no one knows."

anyway, epigenetics has all kinds of cool potential applications. take medicine - for cancer, say, if you could figure to out a way to induce epigenetic changes in cancer cells, or reverse the ones that they induce, some means of getting the cancer cells to recognize molecular signals that tell them to stop dividing &/or go into cell death (apoptosis), then you'd have a cure for cancer w/o such deleterious side effects (granted, easier said than done). or just understanding the role that epigenetic changes play in the etiology of various diseases.

zhao
02-04-2010, 01:30 PM
so my grand kids are gonna be born irie? niiiice :cool:

padraig (u.s.)
02-04-2010, 07:09 PM
well, if there's a gene that codes for irie, & an epigenetic change has turned it on (or the opposite, that there's a mechanism which inhibits the production of irie, and that inhibition has been turned off) & it's a heritable change, then yes, Zhao, there is indeed a chance that your kids could be born irie. keep in mind that it's also dependent on the irie allele from your partner, & environmental factors. and I have to caution you that the mechanisms by which irie is produced or inhibited are - almost certainly - poorly understood.

nomadthethird
02-04-2010, 07:39 PM
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4SA2peIqZmQ/Sqkk_O4AeLI/AAAAAAAAC5E/IR2XLHPGmrw/s400/xkcd+date+between+biologists+discussing+Punnett+Sq uares.png

Srsly...

Hard to do a punnett square for eye color, tho.

nomadthethird
02-04-2010, 07:45 PM
I have also been doing this stuff all semester.



meiosis is a part of human sexual reproduction, or at least the precursor - it's the formation of the gametes (i.e., sperm or egg, depending) which will eventually fuse during fertilization to form a zygote. as nomad alluded to, crossing over is more the exchange of entire genes (or alleles) than a remixing of the primary DNA sequence, which would be more in the realm of mutation. one important thing to remember is that coding DNA only makes up ~1.5% of the human genome, so a lot of times you're just swapping around non-coding stuff (tho a fair portion of that has other functions, usually something to do w/regulation). when genes are swapped, there's ways that you can actually measure they physical distance between them on the chromosome, depending on how often the traits they code for are expressed in a population.

& to your original point - you're correct, epigenetics are a more of a corollary to Darwin - it goes w/o saying that none of this would give Richard Dawkins a fit as the author of that stupid article suggests - than a refutation. what defines epigenetic is that there is an alteration w/no change to the primary DNA sequence, usually involves some kind of change to the actual structure of the chromosome, i.e. DNA methylation (gene silencing) or modifications to the histones in nucleosomes. where it gets tricky is all the mutual effects that different things have on each other - that's molecular biology, there's a million things & most of them are acting on each other somehow & it can be a real bastard to figure out what's doing what to what. a lot of it's not that well understood. I guess the big idea is that people thought to alter gene expression you had to alter the DNA sequence & then epigentics came along & was like "no, there's this kooky back door, check it out." that's another biology,thing, there's not all hard & fast rules & equations like physics - I mean, we have to follow rules (most of them made up by physicists), but a lot of times if you ask a biologist a question s/he'll be like "I don't know. no one knows."

anyway, epigenetics has all kinds of cool potential applications. take medicine - for cancer, say, if you could figure to out a way to induce epigenetic changes in cancer cells, or reverse the ones that they induce, some means of getting the cancer cells to recognize molecular signals that tell them to stop dividing &/or go into cell death (apoptosis), then you'd have a cure for cancer w/o such deleterious side effects (granted, easier said than done). or just understanding the role that epigenetic changes play in the etiology of various diseases.

It's funny you say that about physics, I have biology professor who, whenever you ask him a question he can't answer, he just says, "it's a physics thing", even when it clearly isn't, as a joke.

padraig (u.s.)
02-04-2010, 08:58 PM
well yeah, for example all the biochemical reactions in the body have obey the laws of thermodynamics. all bodies have to obey some kind of mechanics, whether classical or quantum (& I know special relativity lurks somewhere in there as well). biology doesn't really have the laws in the same sense that chemistry & physics do, but we make use of their laws in biology.

I read a story about this professor (http://www.princeton.edu/neuroscience/news/archive/?id=1965) of neurobiology at Princeton - apparently he was originally going to become a physicist. as an undergrad at Caltech, he was taking a mechanics class & another course in molecular & cellular bio. he went up to the physics prof w/some question & the prof was like "oh yeah that's already been thought of" & wrote down a bunch of equations on a sheet. then he went to his bio professor & asked dude a question about something with synapses, can't remember what, & the bio guy, in classic fashion, said "I have no f**king clue." upon which the Princeton guy decided to switch fields.

nomadthethird
02-04-2010, 10:25 PM
well yeah, for example all the biochemical reactions in the body have obey the laws of thermodynamics. all bodies have to obey some kind of mechanics, whether classical or quantum (& I know special relativity lurks somewhere in there as well). biology doesn't really have the laws in the same sense that chemistry & physics do, but we make use of their laws in biology.

I read a story about this professor (http://www.princeton.edu/neuroscience/news/archive/?id=1965) of neurobiology at Princeton - apparently he was originally going to become a physicist. as an undergrad at Caltech, he was taking a mechanics class & another course in molecular & cellular bio. he went up to the physics prof w/some question & the prof was like "oh yeah that's already been thought of" & wrote down a bunch of equations on a sheet. then he went to his bio professor & asked dude a question about something with synapses, can't remember what, & the bio guy, in classic fashion, said "I have no f**king clue." upon which the Princeton guy decided to switch fields.

Linus Pauling, maybe? Nevermind....didn't catch the link before...

Mr. Tea
03-04-2010, 11:53 AM
Cheers Padraig, that's some great stuff there, thanks a lot.

Interesting points re. physics vs. biology - I can see the appeal of both the hard-n-fast rigour of physics (obviously) and the, I dunno, "mushiness" of biology, the huge profusion of phenomena even the field's experts can't claim to begin to understand. Whereas in physics (other than in the outer theoretical reaches of cosmology/field theory/particle physics) I think people are mainly filling in the little gaps in our knowledge within well-established paradigms, rather than venturing out into the great unknown.

This discussion reminds me of a physicist called George Zweig - who independently proposed the quark hypothesis back in the '60s, although it was Murray Gell-Mann's version that won the Nobel - who left particle physics and then did pioneering work on the physiological basis of hearing and how sound signals are transmitted down the auditory nerve. Interesting career change, anyway. Roger Penrose's forays into 'quantum consciousness' are pretty out-there, but it remains to be seen how much of it is testable...

nomadthethird
03-04-2010, 05:21 PM
Cheers Padraig, that's some great stuff there, thanks a lot.

Interesting points re. physics vs. biology - I can see the appeal of both the hard-n-fast rigour of physics (obviously) and the, I dunno, "mushiness" of biology, the huge profusion of phenomena even the field's experts can't claim to begin to understand. Whereas in physics (other than in the outer theoretical reaches of cosmology/field theory/particle physics) I think people are mainly filling in the little gaps in our knowledge within well-established paradigms, rather than venturing out into the great unknown.

This discussion reminds me of a physicist called George Zweig - who independently proposed the quark hypothesis back in the '60s, although it was Murray Gell-Mann's version that won the Nobel - who left particle physics and then did pioneering work on the physiological basis of hearing and how sound signals are transmitted down the auditory nerve. Interesting career change, anyway. Roger Penrose's forays into 'quantum consciousness' are pretty out-there, but it remains to be seen how much of it is testable...

The downsides to being a biologist versus a physicist are

1) physics, sort of like proverbial "rocket science", gets more awe and respect, based on the fact that more people fail high school physics

2) the smell of the fucking autoclave

nomadthethird
03-04-2010, 05:35 PM
This is kind of unrelated to the thread but MIT has a bunch of really good lecture videos up.

Eric Lander (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAldLXDPWZM&feature=PlayList&p=FD5B3F061F7DB890&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=46), who is known for his role in sequencing the human genome and who's a good teacher to boot, has a bunch of neurobio lectures on there.

There are some good chemistry ones up too but those are hard to get anything from if you dont have any background.

Mr. Tea
03-04-2010, 08:04 PM
The downsides to being a biologist versus a physicist are

1) physics, sort of like proverbial "rocket science", gets more awe and respect, based on the fact that more people fail high school physics


In fairness, I think it's very easy to teach physics badly. Or tricky to teach it well, at least.

The funny thing is, I'm sure rocket science isn't actually particularly tricky (these days I mean, not in the '40s/'50s when it was being developed). Rocket science isn't exactly rocket science, in other words. Or rather, rocket science isn't exactly orbifold cohomology.

nomadthethird
04-04-2010, 06:03 PM
In fairness, I think it's very easy to teach physics badly. Or tricky to teach it well, at least.

The funny thing is, I'm sure rocket science isn't actually particularly tricky (these days I mean, not in the '40s/'50s when it was being developed). Rocket science isn't exactly rocket science, in other words. Or rather, rocket science isn't exactly orbifold cohomology.

Physics is also counterintuitive, even more so than a lot of biological concepts (which are more counterintuitive than people would assume, even though the calculations are generally trivial).

There's this one kid in my program who's pre-med and also interested in neurology. He's Asian and really good at math, and we're in all the same classes, so we study together all the time. In chemistry right now we're doing thermodynamics, building on thermochemistry from last semester. For some reason this he just can not understand that an exothermic system has a negative charge so the deltaS of the surroundings has a positive one (after the double negative in the formula corrects itself). I'm sure you know which formula I mean, it's one of the simple one that's based on q-rev/T, I think it's deltaSsurr=-deltaHsys/T. Yesterday we went over that for like a half hour while he tried to argue that this equation was a stupid way to formulate that. (Usually in bio we use Gibb's Free energy equation...) He generally beats my grades in math but I beat him in chemistry, because for some reason he's good at following rules but bad at conceptualizing things.

It's weird when someone is generally very good at math but still can't get physics. I have to take physics and it worries me when one of the smartest kids at my school doesn't get some of this stuff right off the bat.

padraig (u.s.)
04-04-2010, 08:20 PM
He generally beats my grades in math but I beat him in chemistry, because for some reason he's good at following rules but bad at conceptualizing things.

my lab partner in chemistry - where again, I think I'm in the same class (i.e., second semester of General Chemistry) as you - is an engineering student. he's taking, I think, Differential Equations right now & is generally like 100x time better than me at math, but I'm absolutely slaughtering him in this class, I think he's barely pulling a C. I mean, the math for chemistry (at this level, at least) isn't really complicated, just algebra. it's more about being able not only to conceptualize, but also to apply the concepts. I don't know if there's that same level of application in physics, which seems more purely theoretical. like, if I see something on a chemistry test I don't understand at first, I can usually logic it out as long as I have a general familiarity with the background material.

nomadthethird
04-04-2010, 10:15 PM
my lab partner in chemistry - where again, I think I'm in the same class (i.e., second semester of General Chemistry) as you - is an engineering student. he's taking, I think, Differential Equations right now & is generally like 100x time better than me at math, but I'm absolutely slaughtering him in this class, I think he's barely pulling a C. I mean, the math for chemistry (at this level, at least) isn't really complicated, just algebra. it's more about being able not only to conceptualize, but also to apply the concepts. I don't know if there's that same level of application in physics, which seems more purely theoretical. like, if I see something on a chemistry test I don't understand at first, I can usually logic it out as long as I have a general familiarity with the background material.

I love chemistry...my lab partner this semester is a complete slacker who goes on facebook on his phone the whole time and whines at me to hurry up. We had a 100 on most labs till he completely messed up one of those resin titrations by pouring in an extra 50ml of HCl through the buret. I was annoyed but it wasn't worth starting over...

I have an easier time with chem calculations in lecture, sometimes the labs are harder to figure out. It's never hard math, but it sometimes it takes a while to figure out which equations to apply where. Still fun...although I'm getting sick of uv spectrophotometry...

Taking orgo next semester, but biochem and p chem is when it gets really fun.

padraig (u.s.)
05-04-2010, 06:11 AM
99% sure you don't need p chem for med school. well unless you're majoring in chemistry, although I thought you already had a B.A. (in like English or Philosophy or something) and were just doing the year+ of required sciences. also pretty sure you don't need biochem, although it seems a more relevant - & interesting - class to take.

I was planning on just the year of general & the year of organic, tho I could see myself taking a biochemistry course if I had the chance (i.e. the time) to do it.

also your pm box is full.

nomadthethird
05-04-2010, 03:30 PM
99% sure you don't need p chem for med school. well unless you're majoring in chemistry, although I thought you already had a B.A. (in like English or Philosophy or something) and were just doing the year+ of required sciences. also pretty sure you don't need biochem, although it seems a more relevant - & interesting - class to take.

I was planning on just the year of general & the year of organic, tho I could see myself taking a biochemistry course if I had the chance (i.e. the time) to do it.

also your pm box is full.

Oh you definitely don't need P chem...

But biochem is a big help if you have time to take it. I'm going to take 3 years and just get the BA. I figure I might as well-- they just asked me to be in the biology honor society. And I want to do some kind of lame research project. Maybe even with the chem dept instead of bio.

My advisor tells me to get an MD/PhD because he thinks I would like research. If I do that, I'll have two BAs, two MAs, an MD, and a PhD. But then, apparently they really need practicing doctors now too. It'll all depend on what schools I get into.

padraig (u.s.)
05-04-2010, 04:53 PM
My advisor tells me to get an MD/PhD because he thinks I would like research. If I do that, I'll have two BAs, two MAs, an MD, and a PhD. But then, apparently they really need practicing doctors now too. It'll all depend on what schools I get into.

lord but we are a pair of sad, hopeless nerds. not that there's really any other option when it comes to med school. I join every freaking honors thing I can sign up for. not that I attend the meetings or anything. really, it's just more fluff to stick on your apps & CV. personally - while I understand the focus on grades & (especially) MCAT scores, I think the whole idea of having a checklist of stuff you do to show that you're both a super overachieving nerd and not a "typical" med school applicant (i.e. a super overachieving nerd) is kinda stupid, but oh well. that's the game & we're all stuck w/it. I'm hoping my weird, non-traditional background will continue to work in my favor; I think it's kinda hilarious that all those years spent riding freight trains & living in squats - when I had no thought of even going to college, let alone med school - now function as a "hook" in applications & interviews, but hey, if it's there I'll take it.

I am quite glad I'm just doing the sciences & everything in one go. I know a bunch of people who got their degrees in communications or anthro or whatever and are now stuck doing that year & a half of community college just to get the basic sciences & prep for the MCATs. I'm kind of paranoid about excess school, it runs in the family - my mom has 2 MAs & a PhD, my stepdad has didn't get his PhD (in physics - hey Tea!) until he was like 32 - but I'm ok with as long as it has a purpose with a clearly defined goal. which is one big advantage of med school over doing a PhD. all that said, I'd love to do a MD/PhD with the latter in molecular bio; I really like doing research, tho I'd still much rather do patient care. I should have the research background by the time I finish up & I have good grades & stuff, but everyone has good grades & good test scores & there just aren't that many MD/PhD programs. I'm not even going to start worrying about all that stuff for at least another semester tho.

nomadthethird
05-04-2010, 06:05 PM
lord but we are a pair of sad, hopeless nerds. not that there's really any other option when it comes to med school. I join every freaking honors thing I can sign up for. not that I attend the meetings or anything. really, it's just more fluff to stick on your apps & CV. personally - while I understand the focus on grades & (especially) MCAT scores, I think the whole idea of having a checklist of stuff you do to show that you're both a super overachieving nerd and not a "typical" med school applicant (i.e. a super overachieving nerd) is kinda stupid, but oh well. that's the game & we're all stuck w/it. I'm hoping my weird, non-traditional background will continue to work in my favor; I think it's kinda hilarious that all those years spent riding freight trains & living in squats - when I had no thought of even going to college, let alone med school - now function as a "hook" in applications & interviews, but hey, if it's there I'll take it.

I am quite glad I'm just doing the sciences & everything in one go. I know a bunch of people who got their degrees in communications or anthro or whatever and are now stuck doing that year & a half of community college just to get the basic sciences & prep for the MCATs. I'm kind of paranoid about excess school, it runs in the family - my mom has 2 MAs & a PhD, my stepdad has didn't get his PhD (in physics - hey Tea!) until he was like 32 - but I'm ok with as long as it has a purpose with a clearly defined goal. which is one big advantage of med school over doing a PhD. all that said, I'd love to do a MD/PhD with the latter in molecular bio; I really like doing research, tho I'd still much rather do patient care. I should have the research background by the time I finish up & I have good grades & stuff, but everyone has good grades & good test scores & there just aren't that many MD/PhD programs. I'm not even going to start worrying about all that stuff for at least another semester tho.

You in tri-beta? I had no idea it existed till the other day. Don't know exactly what it entails, but I feel like I probably won't participate much in the activities.

The most ridiculous part about med school apps isn't even the ridiculously high GPA req or the MCAT standard scores...it's all the other politicing you have to do to make your application "stand out". I remember jumping through similar hoops when I applied to private colleges/unis the first time. My 'hook' then was that I graduated two years early, then worked as a pharmacy technician and shadowed surgeons while taking extra AP courses. This time I don't feel I have a solid one. I guess the non-trad angle looks good though; they consider you a more serious candidate who is less likely to drop out if they accept you.

I'm such a nerd that my summer is already taken up by calculus and fucking PE reqs. I have a feeling it would look really good to do EMT courses and work as an EMT, but I feel that with 4 labs and 4 classes next semester, it just ain't gonna happen...

padraig (u.s.)
05-04-2010, 08:41 PM
tri-beta doesn't have chapters at community colleges. I'm in phi theta kappa (the two year equivalent of pbk) & just the college's honors society. planning on joining tri-beta when I transfer, & trying to get into pbk. I also do various science-y extracurricular things, mostly related to scholarship $. your CV is undoubtedly far more impressive than mine. I didn't take any AP classes or anything in high school. hell, I almost didn't go back and do my senior year, I was going to just get the GED a year early & say f**k it. otoh I have super-high test scores and, as noted, I've been pumping up the ol' CV at every turn since I went back to school, so I dunno. it's a rat race for sure. I got into my safety school (U of I Urbana, which is pretty good in its own right), still waiting to hear back from all the elite private schools, tho even if I got in they'd have to give me serious $$$ to go there. really hoping for U of Chicago.

also taking calculus in the summer. not looking forward to it. I already took the EMT course, last semester, too busy this semester to be pulling 2-3 13 hour shifts a week, going to starting look for work w/a company when the semester ends. I need the $ anyway. the class was a lot of fun tho, I recommend it.

what the hell are PE requirements?

nomadthethird
05-04-2010, 10:25 PM
what the hell are PE requirements?

Good luck! Sounds like you have a lot of options...

PE= gym. Srsly. Gym. The state budget is completely screwed, so they'll fire teachers of real subjects, but gym? Can't cut that shit. It's important to force people to throw a ball around three days a week.

padraig (u.s.)
05-04-2010, 10:46 PM
well it seems like w/r/t options, but then I'm sure you know time has a funny way of creeping up on you...I was just talking to the PhD I do research with earlier & he was telling me that an MD/PhD is usually about 9-10 years, maybe longer, cos you have the first 2 years of med school (the classroom work), then the PhD (5 years minimum), then the last 2 years of med school (clinical). I'm 26, so I'd be almost 40 by the time I got done. I suppose it really depends what you want to go into. if you really want to focus on research then it's great, otherwise overkill. & then, again, there's the always the problem of actually getting in when everyone has good grades & good test scores and a compelling story...sweating bullets already I tell you...

& PE? in college? for real? incidentally I'm strongly in favor of having PE as a core requirement for kids & teens - definitely over the arts if not over maths & sciences, or English/history etc., in terms of either/or funding. but I've never heard of PE as a college requirement. well, maybe it'll be a good time, I dunno...

nomadthethird
05-04-2010, 11:00 PM
well it seems like w/r/t options, but then I'm sure you know time has a funny way of creeping up on you...I was just talking to the PhD I do research with earlier & he was telling me that an MD/PhD is usually about 9-10 years, maybe longer, cos you have the first 2 years of med school (the classroom work), then the PhD (5 years minimum), then the last 2 years of med school (clinical). I'm 26, so I'd be almost 40 by the time I got done. I suppose it really depends what you want to go into. if you really want to focus on research then it's great, otherwise overkill. & then, again, there's the always the problem of actually getting in when everyone has good grades & good test scores and a compelling story...sweating bullets already I tell you...

& PE? in college? for real? incidentally I'm strongly in favor of having PE as a core requirement for kids & teens - definitely over the arts if not over maths & sciences, or English/history etc., in terms of either/or funding. but I've never heard of PE as a college requirement. well, maybe it'll be a good time, I dunno...

MD/PhD is 7 years total, sometimes with post-doc work. But that's no longer than med school-- which is 4 years plus two years + residency/intern.

I know of someone who got into an MD/PhD program with less than a 3.0...but he had good recommendations from professors.

nomadthethird
06-04-2010, 05:27 PM
I just got around to reading the article linked in the OP, and boy was that infuriatingly dumb.

Epigenetics is not at all inconsistent with evolutionary theory or molecular biology as we've known both for a century. There's nothing revolutionary about it. And environmentally influenced gene regulation/expression of blastocysts is not some kind of earth shattering discovery... the fact that the conditions under which an organism is gestated can affect its development is well-established and has been for quite a long time. In fact there's an entire discipline devoted to this called developmental biology. It's well-known that the environment gametes and zygotes and differentiating cells live in can have effects on gene regulation and expression. This has literally nothing to do with Lamarck's theory of acquired characteristics.

Horizontal gene transfer? Mindblowing? Whaaa?

Uck and it even ends with some legend about Darwin on his death bed.