A virus in our genes, think about that....

Summary:Really fascinating news: Virus is passed from parent to child in the DNA. Researchers found that roseola, an infection that everyone apparently gets but only 20 percent of children develop the characteristic rash that gives it its name, is actually in our DNA.

Really fascinating news: Virus is passed from parent to child in the DNA. Researchers found that roseola, an infection that everyone apparently gets but only 20 percent of children develop the characteristic rash that gives it its name, is actually in our DNA. It co-evolved into us, which raises some very interesting today in particular.

They found that most babies infected with the HHV-6 virus, which causes roseola, had the virus integrated into their chromosomes. Not only that, but either the father or mother also had the virus in the chromosomes, suggesting it was a so-called germline transmission -- passed on in egg or sperm.

"This is really a unique mechanism for congenital infections," said Dr. Caroline Breese Hall, a pediatrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York who led the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Her team is now investigating what this means for the children.

"If you have a chromosome that has got a virus integrated into it, what does it mean? What does it do? Can it activate again? Can it start spewing out virus and cause problems? Can you get an immune response to it?" she said in a telephone interview.

Okay, so why is this particularly interesting today?

Well, there's a Creationist giving a speech tonight at the Republican Convention. You may have heard of Sarah Palin and her lack of experience with virtually anything having to do with national politics (except her talent in winning pork projects) and foreign relations. But she also doesn't believe in evolution, which means that, in principle, this discovery cannot fit into her world view unless she actually thinks God designed the roseola virus into us rather than this being the product of a process of natural selection.

It is easier to imagine why the virus was absorbed into our DNA, for instance it could be the product of an earlier immune response to another disease, than it is to imagine why God would have put it there. So, applying Occam's Razor to the question, the evolutionary process is the simpler explanation—unless God designed a disease into the human gene, so that it expresses itself in our hair and bones, amongst other parts of the body that have nothing to do with roseola, for no good reason.

If there was no such thing as evolution, there would not be demonstrable examples of evolution in action today, like the new species of dung beetle emerging.

We don't need a vice president or, should Senator McCain be elected and die in office, a president who disavows science. She insists Creationism be taught alongside evolution and opposes many forms of research based on her Biblical interpretations. The impact of a Palin presidency -- or her influence within the administration as vice president -- on U.S. research and development policy would be disastrous.

We should be voting for someone who lives in the 21st Century, not the 19th, when it comes to policy making. That's just one of the many reasons the Founders established a separation of church and state.

Topics: Security

About

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran journalist, media executive and entrepreneur. He was editor of the ground-breaking Digital Media newsletter in the 1990s and a frequent contributor to ZDNet over the years. He led development of the first Web audio/video news network at ON24, sat on the board of Electric Classifieds Inc. and Match.com, and wor... Full Bio

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