Monday, December 17, 2007


Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), like the more typical retroviruses such as HIV, rewrite the DNA of the cells they infect; the endogenous retroviruses do so not just to the somatic (body) cells, but to the germline (reproductive) cells, becoming part of the DNA we pass down to the next generation. These aren't rare -- more of our DNA comprises these old retroviruses than genes that actually code for proteins. New ERVs generally will quickly lose their potency as viruses, but can come to play critical roles in how our bodies operate.

Makes you wonder if there could be a literal Burroughsian "word virus" lurking in our neurological source code . . .

Chernobyl: Lost world

Scientists have had access to limited data when it comes to assessing the true facts within the 4,000 square kilometres of the "zone of alienation". Photographs of the abandoned city of Pripyat, near Chernobyl, reveal that trees and shrubs have started to sprout through the roads and buildings. Nature has begun to reclaim what was originally lost to urban development and agriculture.

"Zone of alienation" has such a dire existential ring to it, don't you think?

(Both items cribbed from Beyond the Beyond.)


Anonymous said...

Re: ERV writing to the Germline.

That would be an interesting mechanism for Lamarckian inheritance. If possible, it would blow the minds of microbiologists everywhere. The implications immense.

Anonymous said...

"Zone of alienation" has such a dire existential ring to it, don't you think?

I do, very much so!

I watched the documentary on the early responders, the firemen and construction workers, who went into the heart of the beast to put out the fire and build the concrete sarcophagus around it. I see that footage in my mind whenever I just hear "Chernobyl". It is hard to describe the emotions.