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No. 23: Sep-Oct 1982

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Short-circuiting heredity

Genes, those carriers of heredity, have turned out to be great gadabouts. Not only do they jump about within a species, but also between species, especially the simple prokaryotic organisms, such as bacteria. It is now well accepted that genes flow between different species of bacteria in physical contact, thus stirring the evolutionary pot. Until recently, scientists believed that the higher organisms, the eukaryotic species, including you and me, did not indulge in such "horizontal" traffic between species. But a few cases have now been found, one involving humans and a microorganism associated with tumors. And the search is just beginning, as biologists look for something they never thought of looking for before.

(Lewin, Roger; "Can Genes Jump between Eukaryotic Species?" Science, 217:42, 1982.)

Comment. This apparent short-circuiting of classical heredity channels supports the radical notion that evolutionary blueprints may be transmitted between divergent species. In the long view, may-be we should not malign viruses, germs, and biting insects!

From Science Frontiers #23, SEP-OCT 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987