In the ups and downs of 2022, everyone wants to figure things out in an uncertain world. Swedish geneticist Svant Pabo won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year, drawing two of the biggest threads.
Svante Pabo has been studying Neanderthal genes in modern humans for many years. In the first year of the outbreak of the new crown, Pabo published a paper in “Nature”, arguing that the risk of severe disease in patients was caused by a genome fragment of about 50kb in length inherited by Neanderthals. Among them, 50% of South Asians and 16% of Europeans carry this gene.
Homo sapiens, the ancestor of modern humans, met Neanderthals who settled in the Middle East for 300,000 years ago 50,000 to 55,000 years ago, and exchanged some genes—as long as the time is long enough, a romantic affair will always change history direction. Genetics, which was used as the theoretical basis for starting World War II. To this day, the war news that dominates the front pages still hints at this.
For plagues and wars, the “explanations” given by Swante Pabo are both scientific and “sociological”.
In the preface of “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Weber finally wrote “anthropology”. In the 1920s, genetics had determined that genes were located on chromosomes, which was one of the prominent sciences at that time. Even Weber had to mention the importance of genetic quality. At that time, the results of genetics were limited, otherwise, proving the relationship between Protestant ethics and capitalism would have become a complete self-talk.
There are not enough things that genes can explain, and Weber’s theory is still worthy of respect.
The popularity of genetics is even more reflected in the physicist’s “stopping”. Schrödinger, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933 with the theory of quantum mechanics, is called “What is Life?” This book is a collection of his lectures at the Institute for Advanced Study, Trinity College, Dublin in 1943. It mainly talks about three issues: proposing the concept of genetic code from the perspective of informatics; demonstrating the persistence and inheritance mode of genes from the perspective of quantum mechanics The possibility of stability; the thermodynamic basis of life “living on negative entropy” is proposed.
Since the 1930s, the physics community has aggressively attacked the frontier of biology—genetics. In 1927, Müller had used X-rays to create genetic mutations, and could artificially produce hundreds of mutants in a short time. Physicist Bohr published his paper “Light and Life” in 1932, using strict physical terms to explain the nature of life.
The amazing thing about Schrödinger’s speech is that Shannon’s information theory was born in 1948, and the DNA double helix structure opened the door to molecular biology ten years later.
The turmoil in the 20th century was to some extent based on a series of evil causes such as the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and the Soviet-German Nonaggression Pact. Even today’s gunpowder is the “unfinished business” of World War I and World War II. The community that was once in the same “empire” disintegrated into mutually incompatible “nation-states” along the gaps of skin color, language, race and religion; We can no longer face each other unburdened by the lasting trauma of the past.
Genetics underpins ethno-nationalism, making “them” who are not my race bear all the pain of “us”.
There are not enough things that genes can explain, Weber’s theory is still worthy of respect, and Pabo’s work is still full of challenges. Sometimes, genes have too much to explain—not just a few storms in evolution, but also a piece of history.