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Even if you landed a man or woman with advanced degrees, would it give you pause if you learned that he or she was genetically likely to develop early dementia and, worse, pass that risk onto your offspring?
Assuming the process of elemental differentiation is identical on Earth as it is on other planets, the core of these planetesimals would be depleted of uranium and thorium, while the crust and mantle would contain higher U/Pb ratios.
Over the centuries, physics, chemistry, and biology have transformed what once was seen as mysterious or even magical—the rotation of the stars, flowers blooming, causes of disease—into well-understood phenomena.
Could the same now be happening to love and lust, the most mysterious and magical of all human emotions?
This is a single number that sums up someone’s genetic potential—risk for disease such as diabetes or predicted height or even the genetic portion of her IQ. With the spread of recreational genotyping through services like or 23andme, more and more Americans have learned some of what their DNA can tell them about their past (their ancestral origins) and their future, such as their risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s.
But while Americans have been mailing in their saliva samples in order to find out what proportion of their genome is descended from Neanderthals, or whether or not they are likely to have dry or wet earwax, scholars have been busy overcoming statistical obstacles to produce scores based on the entire set of a million or more bits of DNA that predict what we call “quantitative traits”—those that fall on a continuum, like body-mass index or verbal intelligence.