Best 127 of Genetics quotes - MyQuotes
We both lacked the same thing in our childhoods - the love of a father... We both sought to fill that lack in our adult lives with family and love, as everyone does, but also with thrills and sometimes periods of recklessness. Luckily, I have always come back from my recklessness. Tommy Darling did not.
Adam & Eve have been degraded, reduplicated forever, photocopies of photocopies, mistakes copied, magnified, augmented.
In every cell in every body in every living thing, strings of words make sentences, meanings locked together
The neuroscience area - which is absolutely in its infancy - is much more important than genetics.
If these d'Herelle bodies were really genes, fundamentally like our chromosome genes, they would give us an utterly new angle from which to attack the gene problem. They are filterable, to some extent isolable, can be handled in test-tubes, and their properties, as shown by their effects on the bacteria, can then be studied after treatment. It would be very rash to call these bodies genes, and yet at present we must confess that there is no distinction known between the genes and them. Hence we can not categorically deny that perhaps we may be able to grind genes in a mortar and cook them in a beaker after all. Must we geneticists become bacteriologists, physiological chemists and physicists, simultaneously with being zoologists and botanists? Let us hope so.
More than any other single trait, it is the apple’s genetic variability—its ineluctable wildness—that accounts for its ability to make itself at home in places as different from one another as New England and New Zealand, Kazakhstan and California. Wherever the apple tree goes, its offspring propose so many different variations on what it means to be an apple—at least five per apple, several thousand per tree—that a couple of these novelties are almost bound to have whatever qualities it takes to prosper in the tree’s adopted home.
Illness might progressively vanish so might identity. Grief might be diminished, but so might tenderness. Traumas might be erased but so might history. Infirmities might disappear, but so might vulnerability. Chance would become mitigated, but so, inevitably, would choice.
I have had my mother's wing of my genetic ancestry analyzed by the National Geographic tracing service and there it all is: the arrow moving northward from the African savannah, skirting the Mediterranean by way of the Levant, and passing through Eastern and Central Europe before crossing to the British Isles. And all of this knowable by an analysis of the cells on the inside of my mouth. I almost prefer the more rambling and indirect and journalistic investigation, which seems somehow less… deterministic.
I'd like to thank Mom and Dad, just for the genetics.
Ecology, like genetics, is not about equilibrium states. It is about change, change and change. Nothing stays the same forever.
Longevity-and sanity. Eccentric old ladies on Harleys I can deal with.
There must be a bad chromosome somewhere in man that urges him to wound that which he can't conquer, deface that which is more beautiful, misunderstand and befoul the work of another.
Genetics, accidents of birth or events in early childhood have left criminals' brains and bodies with measurable flaws predisposing them to committing assault, murder and other antisocial acts. .... Many offenders also have impairments in their autonomic nervous system, the system responsible for the edgy, nervous feeling that can come with emotional arousal. This leads to a fearless, risk-taking personality, perhaps to compensate for chronic under-arousal. Many convicted criminals, like the Unabomber, have slow heartbeats. It also gives them lower heart rates, which explains why heart rate is such a good predictor of criminal tendencies. The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, for example, had a resting heart rate of just 54 beats per minute, which put him in the bottom 3 per cent of the population.
It is common to assume that multi-racialism is inevitable, and that racial identity will disappear as races mix. Americans prefer to think that the “tragic mulatto,” welcome in neither community, was either a myth or a reflection of outmoded racist thinking. Research suggests things may not be so simple. A 2003 study of 90,000 middle-school and high-school students found that black/white mixed-race children had more health and psychological problems than children who were either black or white. They were more likely to be depressed, sleep badly, skip school, smoke, drink, consider suicide, and have sex. White/Asian children showed similar symptoms. The principal author concluded that the cause was “the struggle with identity formation, leading to lack of self-esteem, social isolation and problems of family dynamics in biracial households.” The authors of a 2008 study reached the same conclusion: “When it comes to engaging in risky/anti-social adolescent behavior, however, mixed race adolescents are stark outliers compared to both blacks and whites. . . . Mixed race adolescents—not having a natural peer group—need to engage in more risky behaviors to be accepted.” A study of white/Asian children found that they were twice as likely as mono-racial children—34 percent vs. 17 percent—to suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or drug abuse. Yoonsun Choi of the University of Chicago found that in Seattle middle schools, a clear racial identity seemed to protect against certain problems. Bi-racial children were the group most likely to smoke, take drugs, have been in fights, hurt someone badly, or carry a gun. Prof. Choi believes mixed-race children suffer because no racial group accepts them. “There is some indication that a strong ethnic identity helps protect kids from these [undesirable] behaviors,” she said.
Genes do not make you, any more than brain chemistry makes you hungry, food makes you breathe, breathing makes you die.
Among the Founders, Thomas Jefferson wrote about race at greatest length. He thought blacks were mentally inferior to whites and biologically distinct: “[They] secrete less by the kidnies [sic], and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a strong and disagreeable odor.” He hoped slavery would be abolished, but he did not want free blacks to remain in America: “When freed, [the Negro] is to be removed from beyond the reach of mixture.” Jefferson was one of the first and most influential advocates of “colonization,” or returning blacks to Africa. He also believed in the destiny of whites as a racially distinct people. In 1786 he wrote, “Our Confederacy [the United States] must be viewed as the nest from which all America, North and South, is to be peopled.” In 1801 he looked forward to the day “when our rapid multiplication will expand itself . . . over the whole northern, if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, and by similar laws; nor can we contemplate with satisfaction either blot or mixture on that surface.
Read the book of life or a life in a book: it’s all epigraphs and anagrams.
Some Amazonian Native Americans descend partly from a Native American founding population that carried ancestry more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to any present-day Eurasians or Native Americans. This signature is not present to the same extent, or at all, in present-day Northern and Central Americans or in a 12,600-year-old Clovis-associated genome, suggesting a more diverse set of founding populations of the Americans than previously accepted. [Quoting Pontus Skoglund]
MRI testing again shows what may be the underlying brain mechanism. The amygdalae are two small lobes in the brain associated with fear, arousal, and emotions. When they are active, it is thought to be a sign of vigilance, meaning that the brain is wary and wants more information. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that when subjects looked at photographs of faces—half were white, half were black—MRI scans found high amygdala activity. This was considered to be a normal reaction to unfamiliar faces. When the subjects looked at the photographs a second time the faces were more familiar; only the other-race faces continued to provoke high amygdala activity. This was true for both blacks and whites, suggesting that encounters with people of different races keep the brain at a higher level of watchfulness. Amygdalae notice race even when a person does not. William A. Cunningham of Ohio State University showed white subjects pictures of faces for only 30 milliseconds—not long enough for the subjects to be conscious of them—but black faces triggered greater amygdala activity than white faces. When he showed faces for a half a second—long enough for people to notice race—he found that black faces prompted greater activity in the pre-frontal areas, a part of the brain associated with detecting internal conflicts and controlling conscious behavior. This suggested the subjects were trying to suppress certain feelings about blacks. Steven Neuberg of Arizona State University attributes instinctive bias to evolution during our hunter-gatherer past. “By nature, people are group-living animals—a strategy that enhances individual survival and leads to what we might call a ‘tribal psychology’, ” he says. “It was adaptive for our ancestors to be attuned to those outside the group who posed threats such as to physical security, health or economic resources.
The Lutz heck that emerges from his writings and actions drifted like a weather vane: charming when need be, cold-blooded when need be, tigerish or endearing, depending on his goal. Still, it is surprising that Heck the zoologist chose to ignore the accepted theory of hybrid vigor: that interbreeding strengthens a bloodline. He must have known that mongrels enjoy better immune systems and have more tricks up their genetic sleeves, while in a closely knit species, however "perfect," any illness that kills one animal threatens to wipe out all the others, which is why zoos keep careful studbooks of endangered animals such as cheetahs and forest bison and try to mate them advantageously. In any case, in the distant past, long before anyone was recognizably Aryan, our ancestors shared the world with other flavors of hominids, and interbreeding among neighbors often took place, producing hardier, nastier offspring who thrived. All present-day humans descend from that robust, talkative mix, specifically from a genetic bottleneck of only about one hundred individuals. A 2006 study of mitochondrial DNA tracks Ashkenazi Jews (about 92 percent of the world’s Jews in 1931) back to four women, who migrated from the Near East to Italy in the second and third centuries. All of humanity can be traced back to the gene pool of one person, some say to a man, some a woman. It’s hard to imagine our fate being as iffy as that, be we are natural wonders.
Your full of yourself." "Duhh... genetics man.
The family trees of all of us, of whatever origin or trait, must meet and merge into one genetic tree of all humanity by the time they have spread into our ancestries for about 50 generations.
Trust in the familiar seems to be matched by wariness of the unfamiliar. Jennifer Richeson of Northwestern University has conducted experiments in which white subjects had to interact in some way with a white or a black man before taking a mental test. Those who dealt with the black man got lower scores on the test, and their brain scans showed what Prof. Richeson called “heightened activity in areas of the brain associated with regulating our thoughts and emotions.” She interpreted this to mean that white subjects were struggling with the “awkwardness” or “exhaustion” of dealing with a black man, and that this interfered with their ability to take the mental test. Researchers at Harvard and New York University had white and black subjects look repeatedly at a series of photographs of black and white faces, all with neutral expressions. Every time the subjects looked at one particular black face and one particular white face they got a mild electric shock. Lie detector-type devices showed that subjects would sweat—a typical stress reaction—when they saw the two faces they associated with the shocks. The researchers showed the photo series several times again, but without the shocks. White subjects quickly stopped sweating when they saw the white face formerly associated with the shock, but continued to sweat when they saw the black face. Black subjects had the opposite reaction, continuing to sweat when they saw the white but not the black face. Mahzarin Banaji, the study’s leader, concluded that this was a sign of natural human wariness of unfamiliar groups.
I work out like a maniac and I spray tan a lot. Genetics were kind, but I work very hard.
After Lincoln became president he campaigned for colonization, and even in the midst of war with the Confederacy found time to work on the project, appointing Rev. James Mitchell as Commissioner of Emigration, in charge of finding a place to which blacks could be sent. On August 14th, 1862, he invited a group of black leaders to the White House to try to persuade them to leave the country, telling them that “there is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us.” He urged them to lead their people to a colonization site in Central America. Lincoln was therefore the first president to invite a delegation of blacks to the White House—and did so to ask them to leave the country. Later that year, in a message to Congress, he argued not just for voluntary colonization but for the forcible removal of free blacks. Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, shared these anti-black sentiments: “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men.” Like Jefferson, he thought whites had a clear destiny: “This whole vast continent is destined to fall under the control of the Anglo-Saxon race—the governing and self-governing race.” Before he became president, James Garfield wrote, “[I have] a strong feeling of repugnance when I think of the negro being made our political equal and I would be glad if they could be colonized, sent to heaven, or got rid of in any decent way . . . .” Theodore Roosevelt blamed Southerners for bringing blacks to America. In 1901 he wrote: “I have not been able to think out any solution to the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent . . . .” As for Indians, he once said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t inquire too closely into the health of the tenth.” William Howard Taft once told a group of black college students, “Your race is adapted to be a race of farmers, first, last, and for all times.” Woodrow Wilson was a confirmed segregationist, and as president of Princeton he refused to admit blacks. He enforced segregation in government offices and was supported in this by Charles Eliot, president of Harvard, who argued that “civilized white men” could not be expected to work with “barbarous black men.” During the presidential campaign of 1912, Wilson took a strong position in favor of excluding Asians: “I stand for the national policy of exclusion. . . . We cannot make a homogeneous population of a people who do not blend with the Caucasian race. . . . Oriental coolieism will give us another race problem to solve and surely we have had our lesson.” Warren Harding also wanted the races kept separate: “Men of both races [black and white] may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. This is not a question of social equality, but a question of recognizing a fundamental, eternal, inescapable difference. Racial amalgamation there cannot be.
The long-lived gene as an evolutionary unit is not any particular physical structure but the textual archival information that is copied on down the generations. [I]t is widely distributed in space among different individuals, and widely distributed in time over many generations. [A] successful gene will be one that does well in the environments provided by these other genes that it is likely to meet in lots of different bodies.
Anything with blood in it can probably go bad. Like meat. And it’s the blood that makes me worry. It carries things you don’t even know you got.
Elms are dying all over the place, it's Dutch elm disease. [...] It came from America on a load of logs, and it's a fungal disease. That makes it sound even more as if it might be possible to do something. The elms are all one elm, they are clones, that's why they are all succumbing. No natural resistance among the population, because no variation. Twins are clones, too. If you looked at an elm tree you'd never think it was part of all the others. You'd see an elm tree. Same when people look at me now: they see a person, not half a set of twins.
What are the implications of ethnic identity for multi-racial and multi-ethnic societies? Tatu Vanhanen of the University of Tampere, Finland, has probably researched the effects of ethnic diversity more systematically than anyone else. In a massive, book-length study, he measured ethnic diversity and levels of conflict in 148 countries, and found correlations in the 0.5 to 0.9 range for the two variables, depending on how the variables were defined and measured. Homogeneous countries like Japan and Iceland show very low levels of conflict, while highly diverse countries like Lebanon and Sudan are wracked with strife. Prof. Vanhanen found tension in all multi-ethnic societies: “Interest conflicts between ethnic groups are inevitable because ethnic groups are genetic kinship groups and because the struggle for existence concerns the survival of our own genes through our own and our relatives’ descendants.” Prof. Vanhanen also found that economic and political institutions make no difference; wealthy, democratic countries suffer from sectarian strife as much as poor, authoritarian ones: “Ethnic nepotism belongs to human nature and . . . it is independent from the level of socioeconomic development (modernization) and also from the degree of democratization.” Others have argued that democracy is particularly vulnerable to ethnic tensions while authoritarian regimes like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Tito’s Yugoslavia can give the impression of holding it in check. One expert writing in Foreign Affairs explained that for democracy to work “the party or group that loses has to trust the new majority and believe that its basic interests will still be protected and that there is nothing to fear from a change in power.” He wrote that this was much less likely when opposing parties represent different races or ethnicities. The United Nations found that from 1989 to 1992 there were 82 conflicts that had resulted in at least 1,000 deaths each. Of these, no fewer than 79, or 96 percent, were ethnic or religious conflicts that took place within the borders of recognized states. Only three were cross-border conflicts. Wars between nations are usually ethnic conflicts as well. Internal ethnic conflict has very serious consequences. As J. Philippe Rushton has argued, “The politics of ethnic identity are increasingly replacing the politics of class as the major threat to the stability of nations.” One must question the wisdom of then-president Bill Clinton’s explanation for the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia: “[T]he principle we and our allies have been fighting for in the Balkans is the principle of multi-ethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy. We have been fighting against the idea that statehood must be based entirely on ethnicity.” That same year, the American supreme commander of NATO, Wesley Clark, was even more direct: “There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That’s a 19th century idea and we are trying to transition into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multi-ethnic states.
In no sense other than an utterly trivial one is reproduction the inverse of chemical disintegration. It is a misunderstanding of genetics to suppose that reproduction is only 'intended' to make facsimiles, for parasexual processes of genetical exchange are to be found in the simplest living things.
After a handful of geeks sequenced the Neanderthal genome and found a 2% match, they opened the flood gates to hundreds of geneticists that now make a living telling you what diseases you inherited from an extinct Arctic ape.
If you think being descended from apes is bad for your self esteem, then get used to the idea that you are also descended from viruses.
There were three things sought by invaders who crossed oceans to discover America. Those were gold, gospel, glory. There are four things sought by aliens who crossed heavens to discover planet earth. Those are gold, gospel, glory, gene.
J. Andrew Schrecker
I think part of the reason escapism is a predominate aspect of American arts—especially cinema—is because that’s what’s in our DNA. Our ancestors came here to avoid whatever was happening where they were originally from. Escapism is literally in our genes.
Many kinds of animal behavior can be explained by genetic similarity theory. Animals have a preference for close kin, and study after study has shown that they have a remarkable ability to tell kin from strangers. Frogs lay eggs in bunches, but they can be separated and left to hatch individually. When tadpoles are then put into a tank, brothers and sisters somehow recognize each other and cluster together rather than mix with tadpoles from different mothers. Female Belding’s ground squirrels may mate with more than one male before they give birth, so a litter can be a mix of full siblings and half siblings. Like tadpoles, they can tell each other apart. Full siblings cooperate more with each other than with half-siblings, fight less, and are less likely to run each other out of the territory when they grow up. Even bees know who their relatives are. In one experiment, bees were bred for 14 different degrees of relatedness—sisters, cousins, second cousins, etc.—to bees in a particular hive. When the bees were then released near the hive, guard bees had to decide which ones to let in. They distinguished between degrees of kinship with almost perfect accuracy, letting in the closest relatives and chasing away more distant kin. The correlation between relatedness and likelihood of being admitted was a remarkable 0.93. Ants are famous for cooperation and willingness to sacrifice for the colony. This is due to a quirk in ant reproduction that means worker ants are 70 percent genetically identical to each other. But even among ants, there can be greater or less genetic diversity, and the most closely related groups of ants appear to cooperate best. Linepithema humile is a tiny ant that originated in Argentina but migrated to the United States. Many ants died during the trip, and the species lost much of its genetic diversity. This made the northern branch of Linepithema humile more cooperative than the one left in Argentina, where different colonies quarrel and compete with each other. This new level of cooperation has helped the invaders link nests into supercolonies and overwhelm local species of ants. American entomologists want to protect American ants by introducing genetic diversity so as to make the newcomers more quarrelsome. Even plants cooperate with close kin and compete with strangers. Normally, when two plants are put in the same pot, they grow bigger root systems, trying to crowd each other out and get the most nutrients. A wild flower called the Sea Rocket, which grows on beaches, does not do that if the two plants come from the same “mother” plant. They recognize each others’ root secretions and avoid wasteful competition.
It’s truly interesting to observe how genetics works in families, and what a huge lottery it is to inherit some of our relatives’ appearance features.
We have lived in a world where the discoveries of physics and genetics are far more awe-inspiring, as well as infinitely more liberating, than the claims of any religion.
Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
The problem with racial discrimination, though, is not the inference of a person's race from their genetic characteristics. It is quite the opposite: it is the inference of a person's characteristics from their race. The question is not, can you, given an individual's skin color, hair texture, or language, infer something about their ancestry or origin. That is a question of biological systematics -- of lineage, taxonomy, of racial geography, of biological discrimination. Of course you can -- and genomics as vastly refined that inference. You can scan any individual genome and infer rather deep insights about a person's ancestry, or place of origin. But the vastly more controversial question is the converse: Given a racial identity -- African or Asian, say -- can you infer anything about an individual's characteristics: not just skin or hair color, but more complex features, such as intelligence, habits, personality, and aptitude? /I/ Genes can certainly tell us about race, but can race tell us anything about genes? /i/ To answer this question, we need to measure how genetic variation is distributed across various racial categories. Is there more diversity _within_ races or _between_ races? Does knowing that someone is of African versus European descent, say, allow us to refine our understanding of their genetic traits, or their personal, physical, or intellectual attributes in a meaningful manner? Or is there so much variation within Africans and Europeans that _intraracial_ diversity dominates the comparison, thereby making the category "African" or "European" moot? We now know precise and quantitative answers to these questions. A number of studies have tried to quantify the level of genetic diversity of the human genome. The most recent estimates suggest that the vast proportion of genetic diversity (85 to 90 percent) occurs _within_ so-called races (i.e., within Asians or Africans) and only a minor proportion (7 percent) within racial groups (the geneticist Richard Lewontin had estimated a similar distribution as early as 1972). Some genes certainly vary sharply between racial or ethnic groups -- sickle-cell anemia is an Afro-Caribbean and Indian disease, and Tay-Sachs disease has a much higher frequency in Ashkenazi Jews -- but for the most part, the genetic diversity within any racial group dominates the diversity between racial groups -- not marginally, but by an enormous amount. The degree of interracial variability makes "race" a poor surrogate for nearly any feature: in a genetic sense, an African man from Nigria is so "different" from another man from Namibia that it makes little sense to lump them into the same category.
The human body when kept in an indoor environment of low lux light will not realize that it is daytime, as it cannot sense the increasing levels of daylight that the genetics are accustomed to. As such, by late morning your body may start sending a signal for you to sleep!
The funny thing is if in England, you ask a man in the street who the greatest living Darwinian is, he will say Richard Dawkins. And indeed, Dawkins has done a marvelous job of popularizing Darwinism. But Dawkins' basic theory of the gene being the object of evolution is totally non-Darwinian.
All sorts of changes in cellular machinery have shown up that have nothing to do with the sequence of DNA but still have profound, and heritable, impacts for generations to come. For example, malnourished rats give birth to undersized pups that, even if well fed, grow up to give birth to undersized pups. Which means, among other things, that poor old Lamarck was right—at least some acquired traits can be passed down.
As far as the language instinct is concerned, the correlation between genes and languages is a coincidence. People store genes in their gonads and pass them to their children through their genitals; they store grammars in their brains and pass them to their children through their mouths. Gonads and brains are attached to each other in bodies, so when bodies move, genes and grammars move together. That is the only reason that geneticists find any correlation between the two.
The genome is as complicated and indeterminate as ordinary life, because it is ordinary life. This should come as a relief. Simple determinism, whether of the genetics or environmental kind, is a depressing prospect for those with a fondness for free will.
Thank God for good genes and cocoa butter!
When I deal with smart IT programmers, I have a strong impression that their job has much in common with the phenomenon of how the Lord arranged the Universe and created genetics (cells, DNA, molecules, etc.). Both genetics and computer programming create their magic by performing highly intelligent coding work.
Asians are still a small minority—14.5 million (including about one million identified as part Asian) or 4.7 percent of the population—but their impact is vastly disproportionate to their numbers. Forty-four percent of Asian-American adults have a college degree or higher, as opposed to 24 percent of the general population. Asian men have median earnings 10 percent higher than non Asian men, and that of Asian women is 15 percent higher than non-Asian women. Forty-five percent of Asians are employed in professional or management jobs as opposed to 34 percent for the country as a whole, and the figure is no less than 60 percent for Asian Indians. The Information Technology Association of America estimates that in the high-tech workforce Asians are represented at three times their proportion of the population. Asians are more likely than the American average to own homes rather than be renters. These successes are especially remarkable because no fewer than 69 percent of Asians are foreign-born, and immigrant groups have traditionally taken several generations to reach their full economic potential. Asians are vastly overrepresented at the best American universities. Although less than 5 percent of the population they account for the following percentages of the students at these universities: Harvard: 17 percent, Yale: 13 percent, Princeton: 12 percent, Columbia: 14 percent, Stanford: 25 percent. In California, the state with the largest number of Asians, they made up 14 percent of the 2005 high school graduating class but 42 percent of the freshmen on the campuses of the University of California system. At Berkeley, the most selective of all the campuses, the 2005 freshman class was an astonishing 48 percent Asian. Asians are also the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to commit crimes. In every category, whether violent crime, white-collar crime, alcohol, or sex offenses, they are arrested at about one-quarter to one-third the rate of whites, who are the next most law-abiding group. It would be a mistake, however, to paint all Asians with the same brush, as different nationalities can have distinctive profiles. For example, 40 percent of the manicurists in the United States are of Vietnamese origin and half the motel rooms in the country are owned by Asian Indians. Chinese (24 percent of all Asians) and Indians (16 percent), are extremely successful, as are Japanese and Koreans. Filipinos (18 percent) are somewhat less so, while the Hmong face considerable difficulties. Hmong earn 30 percent less than the national average, and 60 percent drop out of high school. In the Seattle public schools, 80 percent of Japanese-American students passed Washington state’s standardized math test for 10th-graders—the highest pass rate for any ethnic group. The group with the lowest pass rate—14 percent—was another “Asian/Pacific Islanders” category: Samoans. On the whole, Asians have a well-deserved reputation for high achievement.
...because the great beauty of embryo development, the bit that human beings find so hard to grasp, is that it is a totally decentralised process...no cell need wait for instructions from authority; every cell can act on its own information and the signals it receives from its neighbours. We do not organise societies that way...Perhaps we should try.
Ants have a powerful caste system. A colony typically contains ants that carry out radically different roles and have markedly different body structures and behaviors. These roles, Reinberg learned, are often determined not by genes but by signals from the physical and social environment. 'Sibling ants, in their larval stage, become segregated into the different types based on environmental signals,' he said. 'Their genomes are nearly identical, but the way the genes are used—turned on or off, and kept on or off—must determine what an ant "becomes." It seemed like a perfect system to study epigenetics. And so Shelley and I caught a flight to Arizona to see Jürgen Liebig, the ant biologist, in his lab.' The collaboration between Reinberg, Berger, and Liebig has been explosively successful—the sort of scientific story ('two epigeneticists walk into a bar and meet an entomologist') that works its way into a legend. Carpenter ants, one of the species studied by the team, have elaborate social structures, with queens (bullet-size, fertile, winged), majors (bean-size soldiers who guard the colony but rarely leave it), and minors (nimble, grain-size, perpetually moving foragers). In a recent, revelatory study, researchers in Berger’s lab injected a single dose of a histone-altering chemical into the brains of major ants. Remarkably, their identities changed; caste was recast. The major ants wandered away from the colony and began to forage for food. The guards turned into scouts. Yet the caste switch could occur only if the chemical was injected during a vulnerable period in the ants’ development. [...] The impact of the histone-altering experiment sank in as I left Reinberg’s lab and dodged into the subway. [...] All of an ant’s possible selves are inscribed in its genome. Epigenetic signals conceal some of these selves and reveal others, coiling some, uncoiling others. The ant chooses a life between its genes and its epigenes—inhabiting one self among its incipient selves.
If there's any interaction between genes and languages, it is often languages that influence genes, since linguistic differences between populations lessen the chance of genetic exchange between them.