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Why am I controlling this body? - The mysterys of DNA and consciousness

  1. Aug 22, 2006 #1
    Why am I this brain and not another brain, I heard that if a sample of DNA was taken of me and I could be brought back to life in 1000 years it would be a copy of me but I wouldn't actually be me so to speak, Is this correct? Why am I not in control of someone elses body.

    To quote Richard Dawkins:

    "We are all extremely lucky to be here, the amount of other possible people that could of been here in my place outnumbers the sand grains of sahara. If you find about all the different combinations of ways my genes could of been polluted, we are all extremely lucky"

    Is this saying my current DNA is the only way I could of been me? What made me be this exact DNA? Why wasn't I born 10,000 years ago in my family history? Have we really all won a lottery of trillions to one odds to be here? Far greater odds than any lottery, ridiculous odds.

    These are the questions I have been thinking about recently and would like answered by people more educated than me in this field.

    Hope I can get some answers, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2006 #2
    oh and another thing, ants, spiders tiny species like that, was I more likely to end up as one of these? Im guessing so as there appears to be nothing special about humans.
  4. Aug 22, 2006 #3
    Brains are constructed by more than just DNA. Brains aren't just a pile of neurons and glial cells, but neurons and glial cells organizing and behaving in very intricate ways, among a sea of other substances, like blood and nutrients, interacting with organs that send it stimulus from the environment and the rest of body. Dawkins is actually oversimplifying things.

    Do you think identical twins are the same person?

    No, of course not. So, no, that person would not be you.

    Because your nervous system is not connected to someone else's muscles and organs.

    Perhaps someday the technology will be there to allow something like that to happen, however, and such a question will appear trivial. By connecting our nervous systems, we could loan each other our bodies for a while and go for walks in each other's shoes. In 1000 years, such practices might be common place, and no one will be perplexed by mysteries of the soul, since we will know what it's like to be other people.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2006
  5. Aug 22, 2006 #4
    thanks for answering some of my questions :biggrin: can anyone help to answer my other questions in my post?
  6. Aug 22, 2006 #5
    You are not just as likely to end up as another organism because you are the very product of two organisms from the same species.
  7. Aug 22, 2006 #6
    But why am I me? What were the chances of me being born
  8. Aug 23, 2006 #7
    I don't understand your questioning. Are you looking for some metaphysical answer on consciousness? If so, you are definitely in the wrong forum :)
  9. Aug 23, 2006 #8


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    The truth is you are the end result of a lot of chance biological processes. Nothing more special about you being you than me being me. We weren't floating around waiting to be sucked into a body by chance.

    Or do you want to know how many sperm and fertile eggs were present in your mother's womb at the time of conception? To get a rough estimate, google normal sperm count ejaculated by a healthy man, yours got lucky, there are your odds.
  10. Aug 23, 2006 #9
    thats for all the replys, all extremely interesting.

    a couple more questions if you dont mind.

    What if a different sperm had reached the egg, was that my only chance of life gone?

    When a man ejaculates, are they essentialling ending 40 million to 600 million potential lives [wikipedia figures] ? Or will the sperm survive the same amount of time in the testes if it is not ejaculated.

    These questions might not seem very intelligent or important to you but im just a teenager interested in science, I have not studied these topics! So any answers appreciated :)
  11. Aug 25, 2006 #10
    Yes, I would think so, most demonstrable is the possibility of being the opposite sex!

    You as an individual are the sum of your brain functions, damage some of those functions and your personality can change. You do not exist entirely just as a ‘program’ of DNA, the continually functioning brain is your personality.
  12. Aug 25, 2006 #11
    is this huge lottery actually another stage in natural selection, will the strongest and fastest sperm have the best chance of reaching the egg (ignoring the variance of the race!) and carry these characteristics into me.

    at a guess im guessing what i just said is a load of crap but its just a thought.
  13. Aug 25, 2006 #12


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    Dearly Missed

    There is for sure a competition among the sperm; that is the name of the game and one of the key reasons sex has evolved in the first place. Competition, in nature, is GOOD; it eliminates the unfit. But what is unfit is not so easy to figure out. As Ecclesiastes wisely remarked, the contest is not always to the strong, nor the race to the swift. Sometimes other qualities come into play, like ability to function at higher or lower temperatures, or navigate to the egg cell or efficiency in getting attached to the egg and shoving the haploid chromosomes into it. And maybe a million other subtleties that I haven't thought of or experimentalists haven't yet seen. But it is important to remember that this is all chemistry, and though it is very complicated, it is not chaotic; everything I have described is deterministic and decoherent (i.e. no quantum effects are expected to show up).
  14. Oct 3, 2006 #13
    I always hated that phrase. It just cannon fodder for creationists. We are not lucky.. we are the product of physical pressures. Animal DNA is not easily "polluted" nor is it easuly mutated.. we are constantly bombarded by radiation and environmental stress. If our DNA was so easly mutable we would have died off as a species long ago.

    Animal genomes have so many mechanisms to secure the integrity of DNA and the window for an actual mutation is so small.

    DNA as a molecule is very robust, surviving cutting splicing, light, moderate radiation. If it wasnt.. well.. something else would be here as our genetic library. There was a time when the Earth was a much harsher environment that it is today.. and yet life thrived. I think its been established that life began 3 billion years ago? At the root was DNA.. doing its thing.
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