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Unraveling the Idea of Genetic Memory: A Genetic Counselor's Perspective

Updated: 3 days ago

Hey there, movie buffs, science enthusiasts, and anyone who's ever wondered if their great-great-grandma had a secret talent for stand-up comedy! It's your friendly genetic counselor, Nira. As a genetic counselor, I cannot stress enough the importance of genetics, heritability, and how your genetic knowledge can shape your health and future of your family's health. However, today we're taking a detour. Buckle up for a wild ride through a concept that might seem straight out of science fiction: genetic memory. But before we embark on this mind-boggling adventure, let's set the stage.

AI-Technological Brains (2 of them) facing one another with a DNA double helix in the middle
Genetic Memory

What's the Deal with Genetic Memory, Anyway? Genetic memory is a concept that's so sci-fi, it might as well be starring in its own blockbuster. Imagine your genes not just holding the recipe for your blue eyes or curly hair, but also the echoes of your ancestors' experiences and knowledge. It's like inheriting a library of memories from the folks who came before you. Sounds wild, right? While it's still a bit on the fringes of scientific exploration, it's a notion that tickles our curiosity. If you're itching for a deep dive into the science of it, I will leave some great resources at the very end of the blog for you to explore. Now, with the groundwork laid, let's dive into the cinematic realm and explore genetic memory through the lens of two recent films: "Assassin's Creed" (a gift from my gamer spouse) and "The Da Vinci Code." Brace yourselves for a rollercoaster ride of thoughts and ponderings. Assassin's Creed: Animus Adventures - Time-Traveling in Style Picture this: a futuristic world where you can step into your ancestors' shoes and experience their lives at the push of a button. That's the wild ride "Assassin's Creed" takes us on. Our leading man, Callum Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender, hops into a high-tech gizmo called the Animus. But here's the twist – it's not for watching old family videos; it's for living your ancestor's life. Talk about a family reunion! Let's get interactive: Can you imagine strolling in your great-granddad's boots, witnessing his adventures, and uncovering his secrets through genetic memory? What juicy nuggets of history would you want to unearth? As Callum struts around 15th-century Spain, dodging foes and getting entangled in epic historical events, we see genetic memory in action. His family tree isn't a tree; it's a pulse-pounding saga. The Templars are itching to grab the hidden treasures locked within his genetic memory. But what's truly mind-boggling is how "Assassin's Creed" blends the past and present seamlessly. Callum's genetic memories aren't a mere stroll down history lane; they have real-world consequences. PONDER THIS: How would you react if your genetic memory held the key to unveiling ancient mysteries or even altering history itself? Could you imagine stepping into your ancestor's shoes, experiencing their world, and uncovering their secrets through genetic memory? What would you want to discover? The Da Vinci Code: Deciphering Symbols and Unraveling Lineage Now, let's switch gears and step into the shoes of Tom Hanks' character, Robert Langdon, in "The Da Vinci Code." While this movie doesn't scream "genetic memory," it delves deep into tracing a genetic lineage back to Mary Magdalene. Forget the Holy Grail being a fancy cup; here, it's a symbol of Mary's genetic lineage through history. Ponder this: Could your own genetic lineage hold mind-blowing revelations? What if you uncovered a lineage tied to a historical superstar? Cryptic messages, religious symbols, and brain-teasing puzzles – it's a geek's paradise. While the film doesn't directly mention genetic memory, the concept of preserving lineage and hidden knowledge is at its core. Langdon and the brilliant Audrey Tautou's character, Sophie Neveu, embark on an intellectual treasure hunt that'll leave you scratching your head and Googling secret societies. "The Da Vinci Code" also tosses us into a juicy scientific and historical debate about the potential for genetic memory to preserve the legacy of historical figures. Could genetic memory carry the echoes of brilliant minds and their contributions through generations? The mere suggestion ignites intrigue and sparks your inner detective, urging you to ponder the untapped potential hidden within your very own DNA. The Clash of Ideas and Hidden Potential Both these movies are more than just cinematic riddles; they're battlegrounds of ideologies. In "Assassin's Creed," it's the Assassins versus the Templars, a rivalry that'd make Batman vs. Superman seem like a friendly game of chess. Callum's genetic memories hold the key to unraveling their secrets, and the film masterfully weaves past and present into a suspenseful narrative that keeps you glued to your seat. Similarly, in "The Da Vinci Code," it's a clash of perspectives. Different beliefs collide without diving into politics or religion, and the idea of concealed knowledge within one's genetic heritage becomes the centerpiece of their epic showdown. Food for thought: If you stumbled upon hidden knowledge within your genetic heritage, how would you wield it? Would you become a knowledge-sharing superhero, or would you savor the secret? So, here we are, fellow science geeks and DNA detectives! Two movies, two unique takes on genetic memory. As we wrap up our genetic counselor's expedition through these films, consider this: while genetic memory might be a bit of a stretch right now, it's a concept that tickles our imagination. It's a tantalizing idea still on science's wild frontier. Could our genes genuinely carry the whispers of our ancestors' tales? And if so, what untold stories might be lurking in our DNA? As you think of these questions, remember that the mysteries of genetic memory aren't confined to the silver screen. While we do not yet understand the possible reality of genetic memory (I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if it actually held the secrets of assassins or superpowers?) we certainly know one thing - it does make you uniquely you. Embrace it, enjoy it, and never stop marveling at the incredible world of cinema, where science sometimes takes a wild, side-splitting detour. And hey, if your genes ever reveal a hidden talent for dance, just remember: you've got ancestors to thank for those sizzling salsa moves! Until next time! ~ NOTE: I would really appreciate it if you could follow me on social media ( Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook) and share 🔄 my pages with your network. It helps others find my content and helps increase my reach. Also, as I aim to always grow and improve, I would LOVE to hear your feedback! Please share your thoughts in the comments! Nira

Nira Johnson Portrait at her work
Nira Johnson

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  1. Can Memory Be Inherited? - This article discusses the long-debated question of whether memory can be inherited. While traditional biology suggests that memories are not inheritable, recent research in epigenetics and various experiments suggest the possibility of transferring memories or behaviors across generations through RNA molecules, challenging established biological dogma.

  2. "Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution: The Lamarckian Dimension" by Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb - This book explores the concept of epigenetic inheritance, which is related to genetic memory, and discusses its potential role in evolution.

  3. "Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics" - This article from Nature Education provides an overview of the historical and contemporary debates surrounding the inheritance of acquired characteristics, a related concept to genetic memory.

  4. "Genetic Memory: How We Know Things We Never Learned" - This Scientific American article discusses the idea of genetic memory and provides insights into some scientific experiments that hint at its existence.

These resources offer a more detailed exploration of genetic memory and the ongoing discussions within the scientific community regarding its validity and mechanisms.

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