[LMB] No lefties

Joel Polowin jpolowin at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 6 01:17:10 BST 2019


Tidsel <tidsel at protonmail.com> wrote:
> On Saturday, October 5, 2019 6:00 PM, Joel Polowin <jpolowin at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> A couple of ago, I asked a "listener question" on CBC Radio's national
>> science show, "Quirks and Quarks": "Given all of the TV shows and
>> movies about 'mutants', I've been wondering: what proportion of
>> humans are really mutants? That is, having at least one gene that's
>> different from the genes of either parent? Or, depending on the
>> genetic error/damage rates, how many "mutant" genes does a person have,
>> on average?" The answer was that, on average, each person has about
>> 50 genes that differ from what either parent has. The error rates
>> are that bad.
> Out of how many total?

There seem to be about 50,000 protein-coding genes.  That's only a
small fraction of the entire genome; a lot of it goes to control of
gene expression, non-coding RNA genes, and other things.  There's a
lot of stuff which doesn't have a known purpose... so far.

> And why is it only bad - evolution works both ways on mutations
> depending on circumstances.

Perhaps I should have said that the error rate is "high" rather
than "bad".  Though most such errors *are* harmful, at least for the
individual.  A random change to a really complicated finicky system is
more likely to leave it in worse shape than before, instead of better.
The people walking around with 50-ish genes that differ from their
parents' are the ones whose genes didn't kill them immediately.

Joel


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list