nil.enroll(aetheric_username, quantum_class_id) (adric) wrote,
nil.enroll(aetheric_username, quantum_class_id)

Hooray for science

After the Britcoms were done, our local PBS affiliate ran through some shows about Mexico and Mexican food which were only mildly irritating and then played two science programs, one Nova and one from National Geographic.

Both science programs were well done and on interesting topics. The first, "Ghost in your Genes", was on the discovery and implications of "epi-"genetics: the effects of activation and expression on the genetic base material. They had a couple sets of identical twins who have different diseases. One particularly striking example is a pair of now-preteen girls, one healthy and social and the other stricken with autism, uncommunicative, and home-bound. These cases studies of individuals and one odd Swedish farming village inform our understanding not only of the existence of epigenetics but of the effect the environment of the father's mother and father's father had. The studies of the Swedish farm village records matched eerily with a modern lab rat study (about mother nurturing) showing that the environment of the grandparents as embryos (girls) or children (boys) directly affected the likelihood of certain health risks (diabetes). Closes with some attempts at epigenetic therapy against some of the worst cancers. Fascinating and unsettling stuff.

The second program, "Stress: Portrait of a Killer" was about the physiological and evolutionary reality of pop psychology concept "stress". The main researcher has been studying baboon families int he wild for decades and draws direct parallels and contrasts with the baboons that match observed behaviour in humans (British civil servants, actually). Another researcher found some similar activity and health concerns in her macaques in North Carolina. Lots of good scientific information about the direct health effects of primate dominance hierarchies.

Although either of the two programs would stand alone as interesting and provocative, shown side by side they beg a question. There is substantial crossover between the two topics and yet I don't believe this is addressed by either. Would someone please introduce the producers, or better still key researchers from these two teams so they they can collaborate? I would be dismayed if modern academic science factionalism keeps these folks from ever talking seriously about topics they share interest in: improving primate health and well-being.
Tags: pbs, science

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment