Thursday 3 April 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Fear the cherry blossom

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

I was going to write this morning about the re-animation of not-quite-necrotic tissue through the use of high sodium stimuli of the also not-quite-necrotic nerves.  Essentially as long as a dead body's (I was thinking a small squid or cuttlefish not your neighbour) muscles have a supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) -that is, the power supply transporter, and the nerves intact, a strong dose of sodium salt, perhaps in some soy sauce, can cause an electrical charge imbalance and send a signal to the muscles causing contraction and release.  Cool.  Dancing squid on your plate.

But no, I will not write about that and no one can make me.

Instead, a brief primer on Lamarckian evolution and why my friend John's offspring are doomed.

According to Lamarckian evolution individuals lose characteristics that they do not use and develop those that they do.  These characteristics are then passed on to offspring.  This differs from Darwinian evolution where individuals with characteristics beneficial to the survival of a species are more likely to survive and thrive and procreate, passing these characteristics to offspring.

For the last half century I have dismissed Lamarckian evolution in favour of Darwinian simply because I understood my (and yours too) genetic makeup was already set and no amount of attempting to fly by flapping my arms would result in my offspring having any inherited ability.

BUT..  I may be wrong.

This morning I read about a study in the research journal Nature Neuroscience that was published Dec 2013 that has found evidence that learned experiences can be transferred through genetic structures.  That is, the genes themselves are not changed but rather tagged or marked by other molecules serving as a signal to future generations.  These markings are called epigenetic changes and it seems that they may play a very important role in biological inheritance.

The study used mice that had been taught to fear the smell of cherry blossoms.  I hate to think how they did this, a few particularly heinous methods come to mind on how I could make someone like Don fear the smell of cherry blossoms.  One method involves a source of very high voltage and a release of cherry blossom scent into his office about 3 seconds before electrifying his chair. 


In the study the off spring of those tortured, I mean conditioned, mice also feared the smell of cherry blossoms.

What does this have to do with my friend John?

Last night I while playing racquetball, Brian and I were challenging John and Alun (previous Pulp, took a shot to the eye, Ocular Blunt Trauma and I fired a long shot - off the front wall to the back wall (and a quick rebound back towards the front) causing John to need to run forward in hopes of catching up for his return shot.

Inexplicably, John ran full tilt into the front wall-side wall where they meet.  Yes.  Into the corner.  Now I mean full tilt, full speed, pedal to the floor, levers all the way forward, throttle on go.  Into the wall.    Now there is no doubt that this looked painful, and by all accounts from John, yes - was painful.  He explained his eye was on the ball and not the wall, and if we were any kind of friends we would have warned him of his impending doom.

Next week Brian will bring a sign that reads, "Run" and I will bring a sign that reads, "Stop".

But Uncle Daniel, why are John's offspring doomed?

Because John procreated prior to running into the wall and severely marking his genes :)

Have a great day, watch out for the walls.


  1. Enough about John, how was the wall?

  2. We hate you and your cherry blossoms
    --the mice

  3. we love elaborate practical jokes played on mice.
    --the cats