Genetics of fictional characters
August 17, 2005 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele is a short letter to Nature, suggesting using the concept of wizarding heritage in the Harry Potter series to explain genetics to children. It's the latest forwarding fad among biologists. The cartoon in this newspaper version of the story sums it up best... The idea isn't new, however, because a quick Google search finds the same theory in a British newspaper article from 2003.
posted by easternblot (14 comments total)
Oh, two great anti-fundamentalists tastes that taste great together: sorcery and genetics.

You got your witchcraft in my science!

No, it's you who got your science in my witchcraft!

It doesn't matter who started it, you're both going to hell!
posted by OmieWise at 7:39 AM on August 17, 2005

This is blasphemy.

God created wizards so they could be burned at the stake.
posted by dreamsign at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2005

Blargh. Omie, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!
posted by dreamsign at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2005

That's a fine looking website you've got there easternblot.
posted by peacay at 7:54 AM on August 17, 2005

hahaha I finally understand easternblot's username. Thanks peacay for putting it in context.

Oh and, this is a good idea.
posted by state fxn at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2005

Indeed a fine website.
posted by OmieWise at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2005

Bugmenot has oogle1/oogle for The Age site. The relevant cartoon:

posted by nkyad at 8:14 AM on August 17, 2005

Hmm. Wouldn't this mean that every wizard is a "pure-blood", since they are WW, and some would-be muggles count as "mud-bloods" with intermingled wizard and muggle genes as WM.

Also, how uncommon are squibs? We've come across enough of them to suspect that it's less a mutation and more likely a genetic-linked disorder.
posted by allan at 10:02 AM on August 17, 2005

"Wouldn't this mean that every wizard is a "pure-blood""

Probably not, if "pure-blood" is defined as WW with WW parents, WW grandparents, etc. here would only be very FEW pure-bloods in that case, and this is actually mentioned as a "fact" in one of the books.

The squib thing was bothering me too at first. But it makes sense if you accept that lots of different mutations in W could all make it lose its function, and would all lead to being a squib.
posted by easternblot at 10:15 AM on August 17, 2005

Nice Link, man. What's your conception of a easternblot, or have you thought about it much?

Don't mean to threadjack....
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:25 AM on August 17, 2005

Is the M gene a defective or mutated version of the W gene or the other way around?
posted by dov3 at 11:32 AM on August 17, 2005

Hm, couldn't the W allele be dominant as well? Hermione's wizardy could be a spontaneous mutation, and one wouldn't have to make assumptions about a wizard ancestor somewhere in her lineage. Squibs could be a result of two heterozygous wizards having a homozygously M kid. What a way to get something published in Nature.
posted by greatgefilte at 2:02 PM on August 17, 2005

You know what I hated when I was a kid? When crap teachers tried to explain something to us using some half-ass metaphor drawn from what they percieved to be "things kids are into". It was clearly always a stretch, they looked like idiots, and I felt talked down to.

Granted, I was a wierd kid.
posted by freebird at 2:07 PM on August 17, 2005

Uh huh. How hard is it to get the concept of a recessive allele? do a couple punnit squares and you pretty much get it.
posted by delmoi at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2005

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