Weekend Reads, week 12
Stuff to read this week gives you everything from how genetics is changing our understanding of ‘race’, to beer being brewed with CRISPR technology.
How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’
In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?
Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument…
Siblings Can Have Surprisingly Different DNA Ancestry
Last fall, siblings Kat and Eddy Abraham decided the best birthday gift for their dad involved a couple vials of spit.
“He’s the historian of the family,” Kat says, so the brother and sister duo thought he’d enjoy seeing the results from a genetic ancestry test. Knowing that their father’s side of the family is Lebanese and their mom’s family is, as Kat describes her, “some variety of white Canadian,” they expected the results would show that they are both half Middle Eastern and half European.
For the most part, that’s what they found. But the siblings were at first surprised to see that their results were not entirely the same. Kat, for example, has 13 percent genetic ancestry from Italy and Greece, while Eddy has 23 percent, according to the tests…
Genetics Determine Academic Success
Grammar schools have virtually no effect because genetics determine academic success, according to a King’s College London study.
Researchers examined the genetic differences between students who attend selective and non-selective schools, then analysed their GCSE results, and found that children who attend grammar or private schools are more likely to do well in exams – but this is largely down to their genes, rather than their school environment.
No Human DNA Found in Neanderthal Genome
Gene flow between Neanderthals and early modern humans may have been a one-way street, researchers have found.
Despite evidence that Neanderthals and humans swapped genes, none of the human ones appears to have been retained.
CRISPR Technology Brews Hopless Beer With Hoppy Taste
Biologists at the University of California, Berkeley have used CRISPR technology to create a hop-free brew that still has all the flavour and aroma of conventional beer. By replacing the hops with strains of genetically-engineered yeasts, the researchers hope to not only reduce the cost of a pint, but make it more environmentally friendly in the process.