Carl Zimmer Quotes.
Over millions of years the viruses in our genome mutate more and more so the look less and less and less recognizable as viruses and so if there was a virus that infected our pre mammal ancestors like 250 million years ago, which it probably did, we can’t see it because it just looks totally random.
I wouldn’t be a very good hunter without these glasses. I’m not a very good hunter with these glasses, but I’d be even worse without them, so that would put a crimp in how many kids I could have, so all of these medical advances have at least in some parts of the world blunted natural selection.
When you get sick with the flu you get infected with flu viruses and they make lots of new flu viruses, but those new viruses are not exact copies of the old ones. They have mutations in them. A lot of those mutations are harmful.
Today, when we look at a brain, we see an intricate network of billions of neurons in constant, crackling communication, a chemical labyrinth that senses the world outside and within, produces love and sorrow, keeps our hearts beating and lungs breathing, composes our thoughts, and constructs our consciousness.
We may be sucking in all sorts of viruses and we really don’t know the full range of them. Maybe we’ve got flu virus inside of us. That’s a possibility. Maybe we’re part flu.
We have Borna virus genes. We’re part Borna virus, which is weird, but apparently our cells and our genomes in a weird way might actually be grabbing these viruses, grabbing genetic material from the viruses that are infecting it and pulling them into their own genome.
If you’re looking for your own idea of your own identity you know the human genome may not be the best place to look for it. You’re just looking at a bunch of viruses.
Everybody can digest milk when they’re little.
Viruses don’t just make us sick. They can actually sometimes end up in our genomes.
About 1.2% of the human genome is made up of genes, things that encode for proteins, the stuff that we consider us. There is about 8.3% that’s a virus. In other words we’re probably about seven times more virus than we are human genes, which is kind of a weird way to thinking about yourself.
The reason that viruses are so hard to fight, the reason for example we need a flu virus every year is that they evolve very fast.
The only kinds of ways we have to deal with viruses are old school, so vaccines for example are very effective, but the first vaccines were invented in the 1700’s, so we’re talking about technology that is over 200 years-old.
Evolution has led to some populations of people being able to digest milk without much trouble when they’re adults as well.
We really depend on viruses for our complete survival.
If the world goes crazy for a lovely fossil, that’s fine with me. But if that fossil releases some kind of mysterious brain ray that makes people say crazy things and write lazy articles, a serious swarm of flies ends up in my ointment.
The hand is where the mind meets the world.
Borna virus is not a retrovirus. It doesn’t actually insert its own genes into our cells. What it does is just hangs out near our DNA and uses some of the molecular machinery to copy itself.