Aren’t we all afraid of something? Maybe from heights or spiders or the dark.
Most of us think that we have developed those fears because of an unpleasant experience with something at some given point in our lives, but have you ever thought that we may have inherited those fears from our ancestors?
The idea that fears aren’t just learned, but they could be passed down to us genetically, isn’t a new concept to the scientific community.
Almost 150 years ago, Charles Darwin realized that his toddler was afraid of large zoo animals regardless of never being hurt nor having an unpleasant experience with these creatures.
Darwin noted that many children’s fears have nothing to do with their experiences, so they had to be inherited and they were most likely related to real dangers in our evolutionary past.
This sounds like a far-fetched idea, like how are humans able to inherit something as abstract as fears?
Somehow, a fearful experience which one of our ancestors lived in the past has altered the DNA of some genes, but it didn’t damage the gene. Instead, it changed the chemical « switch » that can turn a gene on or off or influence how active a gene is.
These changes in the genetic information could be transmitted via sperm cells causing sensitivities and fears encoded deep in our DNA, which results in a revolutionary mutation called the « genetic memory ».
Such change could be useful in helping kids avoid trouble without having to endure trauma or a dangerous situation, thus DNA that « learns » from its ancestors offers a unique biological weapon to the offspring.
Regardless of such benefits, do we really need this genetic memory as adults?
Are the fears hindering our daily lives really important to the survival of mature humans?
Are we living in a box of fears that aren’t truly ours?
And are we held captive to a lineage of inherited traumas which we can’t escape?
Many questions need to be answered following this shocking discovery, but most importantly, we need to surpass our fears, as most of them are transmitted to us and not our own, and break this chain of unexplained phobias.
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Perseverance Rover: Humanity’s newest feat
February 19th, 2021 marks a new historical event in the space exploration journey, as NASA scientists rejoice.
NASA’s 2020 Mars mission successfully landed on Mars. This mission includes the Perseverance Rover along with other experiments.
While descending to touch down on the red planet, we got a close-up picture of the Perseverance rover, the first-ever high-resolution color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras that is most likely to become a classic photograph in the history of spaceflight.
A 360° rotation of its mast allowed the Mastcam-Z instrument to capture its first panorama, and we also got the first-ever audio recording from the red planet thanks to a microphone on the rover.
The camera system covered the whole landing process, showing the intense ride and the so-called « seven minutes of terror » descent sequence.
“Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.” Said NASA engineer, Swati Mohan, during the live stream of the landing.
This landing is a considerable achievement of engineering that took multiple years to attain and was one of the main difficulties of the mission. As a matter of fact, because Mars’s air is so thin, it was more difficult to slow the spacecraft while descending, and it required a parachute and rockets, among other equipment.
Another challenge that the rover faced was the dangerous terrain it was headed to. Jezero Crater, the new home to the Perseverance Rover, was riskier than previous missions, as it presents deep pits, high cliffs, and big rocks making it harder for the rover to touch down.
However, NASA managed to design new pieces that allowed Perseverance to scan the surface and navigate around any obstacles which was a huge success.
The main goal of this mission is to hunt for the remnants of life and to study the Martian rocks up to 3.8 billion years old.
With this new source of data, the knowledge about our neighboring planet will pave the way to the future, when humans will set foot on the Martian soil.