April 5, 2010

David Galas
Institute For Systems Biology
1441 North 34th Street
Seattle, WA 98103-8904
(206) 732-1200

Dear David Galas:
I read the brief review (We are Family NATURE vol. 464 no. 7287 March 18, 2010 page 329) of your article (Science doi:10.1126/science.1186802 (2010)) reporting a good estimate of the number of new mutations that occur in each person each generation at about 70. 

This is a very interesting number.  There is a great deal of evidence (What I have is posted on my website nobabies.net along with thoughts and letters.  The easiest way to get the picture is to look at the March 25, 2010 posting.) that the fertility of most animals, humans included, depends exquisitely on their kinship.  More kin means more babies in the long run.  The effect accumulates over generations.

Genes lie somewhere at the heart of this of course.  But I have constructed a C language program that models what is going on pretty well.  And my program implies either that an enormous proportion of the genome is scanned for determining kinship or that the mutation rate is very high.  This has always rather troubled me.  DNA seemed too stable.  Now you have found that it is more stable even than we thought.  (This should be fun while they go back and recalibrate all our ancient ancestors and fellow great apes.) 

The ability to detect kinship seems beyond question.  The mechanism remains obscure.  DNA is so stable.  Comparing 1% of a genome would be very time consuming.  A single part per say fifty million would be virtually impossible to detect by physical means.  Yet the program follows plain old Mendelian laws of inheritance just as DNA does.  There can’t be anything else that follows the same laws … can there? 

So I expect that your findings will provoke a great deal of interest.  If you want to know more, I put my thought, letters and evidence on nobabies.net.  The simplest summary with the most current data was put up on March 25, 2010.  If you are at all interested or I can help in any way, do let me know.


M. Linton Herbert MD 

There have been 3,793 visitors so far.

Home page.