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The word "gene" is shared by many disciplines, including whole organism-based or "classical" genetics, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology and population genetics. It has multiple uses within each of these contexts. But in the primary sense "genes" are material things that parents pass to offspring during reproduction and through which they propagate their biological traits or characteristics. This sense, which is common to all of the above disciplines, is also the original historical meaning of "gene." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene

The Selfish Gene (1976) - Richard Dawkins

  1. The Selfish Gene (1976) - Richard Dawkins [Amazon.com]
    Inheriting the mantle of revolutionary biologist from Darwin, Watson, and Crick, Richard Dawkins forced an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world with the publication of The Selfish Gene. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we had since Mendel's work was rediscovered, we turn it around and imagine that "our" genes build and maintain us in order to make more genes. That simple reversal seems to answer many puzzlers which had stumped scientists for years, and we haven't thought of evolution in the same way since. [...] --Rob Lightner Changing the perception of evolution, introducing 'memes

Selection (evolution)

In the context of evolution, certain traits or alleles of a species may be subject to selection. Under selection, individuals with advantageous or "adaptive" traits tend to be more successful than their peers reproductively--meaning they contribute more offspring to the succeeding generation than others do. Selection therefore increases the prevalence of these traits, because offspring inherit traits from their parents. When selection is intense and persistent, adaptive traits become universal to the population or species, which may then be said to have evolved. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection [Jul 2005]


In 1928, Safe Council or Practical Eugenics by Dr. B.G. Jefferis still cautioned:

"Boys are sometimes strongly tempted to buy and to pass around among themselves pictures representing the body without proper clothing or even the relations of sex. You simply cannot afford to let the unclean picture get itself stamped upon your mind. It does not fade away. Long years after you saw it, and probably long after sentences that you have heard on the subject are quite forgotten, you will remember the picture. I have heard men say that they would give any sum of money that they could command if they might wipe off their memory some foul picture that they saw and brooded upon when they were boys."
--via http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/excerpts/sex/show/6/118.htm

Eugenics is a social philosophy (sometimes labeled a "science", a "movement", or a "pseudoscience") which advocates to improve human hereditary qualities. Proposed means of doing so have included but are not limited to birth control, selective breeding, genetic engineering, and racial hygiene. Advocates of the approach have said variously that it would lessen human suffering and genetically caused health problems, would save society money, and some have said it would create a new, more intelligent human race. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics [Jul 2005]

see also: gene - sociobiology - human

Gattaca (1997) - Andrew Niccol

Gattaca (1997) - Andrew Niccol [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Uma Thurman in Gattaca (1997)
image sourced here.

Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film by director/screenwriter Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law and Alan Arkin.

It combines a Hollywood action/adventure plot with a distinct vision and statement on the future where genetic testing and eugenic genetic engineering has altered mankind to such an extent that children conceived by traditional sexual reproduction are members of an underclass.

Recent developments in genetic diagnosis of inherited diseases and the real-world technologies of in vitro fertilisation and embryo selection have made a society similar to that represented in Gattaca seem feasible in the not-too-distant future. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca [Apr 2005]

see also: SF films - reproduction

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