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EFCollins
12-18-2009, 08:22 AM
Hi! I'm writing a story, the first section of which can be found here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=165743).

Now, my questions are:

First, the men in the story are devolving. (Evolution going backward, for those that do not know the term.) This does not effect women or pre-pubescent boys. The women and children in the colony have yet to figure this out, but they will.

Now the fun part. How would a doctor or scientist, with limited lab capability (she has a full lab, but no technicians or lab workers to help with the research--and also dwindling supplies of vital nature to work with), be able to determine that this is happening?

Would there be something in the DNA of the devolved men they could look for to figure it out? If so, what would they be looking at? And how would she do that, because I have no frigging idea.

How would they learn when the devolution is going to occur? Would there be some trace in the DNA that could tell them that the change occurs at full maturity (meaning after puberty is complete and the boys' "balls have completely dropped")? Would I need to use some trigger to cause the change, and if so, would that leave traces in the DNA that could be clues for the doctor in the colony?

I'd like to make this as believable as possible, but have no problem bending the nature of her research, toward the fictional side, to accomplish this. But I do at least want to base how the doctor would go about the process on fact. Thanks for your time and for answering my questions.

Cyia
12-18-2009, 09:28 AM
The first two things I thought of were:

The number of chromosomes is dropping in the men. Losing one chromosome could make them a step closer to being a lower ape.

The other thing would be hormonal. All fetuses develop on a female template for a certain period of time (the reason men have nipples when they don't technically need them). If there was some hormonal imbalance that occurred in utero, it could effect their development at puberty.

Try something like Klinefelter Syndrome where the males develop with a XXY chromosome instead of XY because of faulty cellular division.

EFCollins
12-18-2009, 09:47 AM
I'm familiar with Klinefelter's. I hadn't thought of it for this, but it may work. Aren't XXY males usually more rounded and softer, less body hair etc? I'm not sure I could manage that with the story, but if I could tweak it, just a bit... maybe a mutated XXY? The secondary X being a little something other? Hmmm... Thanks Cyia!

Cyia
12-18-2009, 09:57 AM
There are conditions that cause XYY, too and could account for excessive aggressiveness if that's a trait you need.

Albedo
12-18-2009, 10:33 AM
'Devolution' isn't a scientific concept. Evolution has no inherent direction, so it can't go backwards, and evolution doesn't occur within individuals by definition, only by descent. So if the men in your story are changing into monsters, but only after puberty, I wouldn't have a character who is a biologist call it that. Laypeople, sure, but a biologist would be pedantic about it being an expression of a mutation, not 'devolution' within an individual.

That said, there's lots of methods you could play with, like chromosomes, as Cyia mentioned (although gorrilas and chimps actually have MORE chromosomes than humans). Is this happening on an alien world? Maybe alien chromosomes are being incorporated into the human genome somehow, and causing males to appear to regress. Your biologist could perform a simple karyotypy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karyotype) and the results be totally WTF.

Canotila
12-18-2009, 01:40 PM
Some defect that affects gene expression could work to give the illusion of "devolving". Folks have postulated that we could possibly bring dinosaurs back by taking bird DNA and manipulating what portions are expressed, how they are expressed, etc. to create a bird with saurian traits such as teeth, scales, claws, etc.

Our DNA is very similar to most other organisms, especially other primates. Depending on the degree of change that you want to occur, it might be plausible for something to alter the expression after or during puberty and affect a change of the person's appearance or behavior.

Cyia
12-18-2009, 03:47 PM
Gah.

Iz produkt of too many sleepiez.

Hoomans = 46 chroms.
Chimpandzeez = 48 chroms.

I couldn't think of his name last night, but you might want to look up an ape named Oliver. He was born with 47 chromosomes - split between human and chimp. If a human male were to be born with a similar aberration, then it could cause a change in his development.

Kitty Pryde
12-18-2009, 09:24 PM
The first two things I thought of were:

The number of chromosomes is dropping in the men. Losing one chromosome could make them a step closer to being a lower ape.

The other thing would be hormonal. All fetuses develop on a female template for a certain period of time (the reason men have nipples when they don't technically need them). If there was some hormonal imbalance that occurred in utero, it could effect their development at puberty.

Try something like Klinefelter Syndrome where the males develop with a XXY chromosome instead of XY because of faulty cellular division.

Losing a chromosome won't make a person apelike. It could give them one of a few various severe and rarely survivable disorders. Look up "monosomy". This chromosome-losing business is NOT passed onto the next generation. Most people with the wrong number of chromosomes are infertile. You could pass on a partial chromosmal deletion, though.


I'm familiar with Klinefelter's. I hadn't thought of it for this, but it may work. Aren't XXY males usually more rounded and softer, less body hair etc? I'm not sure I could manage that with the story, but if I could tweak it, just a bit... maybe a mutated XXY? The secondary X being a little something other? Hmmm... Thanks Cyia!

XXY males are infertile. If an XY man has a 'mutated X', he will pass it on to all of his daughters and none of his sons. Those daughters will pass it on to half of their sons.


'Devolution' isn't a scientific concept. Evolution has no inherent direction, so it can't go backwards, and evolution doesn't occur within individuals by definition, only by descent. So if the men in your story are changing into monsters, but only after puberty, I wouldn't have a character who is a biologist call it that. Laypeople, sure, but a biologist would be pedantic about it being an expression of a mutation, not 'devolution' within an individual.


Ding ding ding! Correct!


The only disorder I can think of that comes on boys at puberty is partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. In the communities where it's prevalent, it's called huevadoce: balls at twelve. Basically a boy is born, he's insensitive to his little-kid testosterone, so he appears to be a girl. At puberty, he starts making adult testosterone, which is different and his body is properly sensitive to, and all his male characteristics appear and everyone realizes he's a boy. Maybe you could do something similar to that, but have the adult testosterone make him, I dunno, monstery? And you could have him develop as a normal healthy boy, too :)

The issue is that you want a group of boys to all develop this at the same time...this doesn't usually happen with genetics. It can happen with disorders of development, though. Thalidomide being an easy example--thalidomide interfered with the process of limb development, it didn't change DNA--so that a group of babies were born with with shortened or absent limbs. (If that was too much genetics and dev bio, I apologize :) )

And no, there wouldn't be DNA traces to imply that the disorder came on at puberty. There would be a mutated gene, and your scientist would need to find that gene and also know what it's for. In a post-apocalyptic world, chances are slim that she would have all the stuff to do that.

veinglory
12-18-2009, 11:30 PM
Devolving isn't really an idea that makes much sense. We evolve to exploit our environment better, it isn't an abstract improvement.

The best I could suggest is that humans have a lot of "junk" DNA. Some of that could become activated and cause traits from our evolutionary past that has become innactive?

But these traits would be more likely to be physical than psychological. Humanoids have had similar innate psychology for a very long time. We are mostly the same omniborous, social, pair bonding mammals who are moderately aggressive to outsiders that we were on all fours.

slcboston
12-19-2009, 09:36 AM
If you're looking to avoid some of the technical details - depending on the need of your stories - for slightly easier research Frank Herbert's "The White Plague" operated on the premise of something that affected only one gender. Wasn't too hard sci-fi and was fuzzy on the technical details, but it was believeable.

For me, at least.

EFCollins
12-19-2009, 10:08 AM
Okay, maybe I'd better explain a bit better of what I'm doing with the males. Devolving is not being used as a scientific fact (which it isn't) or actually in the story--more like a guideline word for me to go by for the idea in my head. It's more of an illusion to the concept. They don't become ape-like in nature, but more feral and animal-like in mannerism... rutting, hunting like predators, no weapons, feeding off anything. Not zombies! Normal men who, at full maturity, start exhibiting this behavior. They sometimes run on all fours, if hunting small game or chasing in "season" women; even their siblings and parents. The women haven't changed and are trying, through these well guarded colonies, to figure out wtf is going on. Increased violence in the males, squabbles among the herd etc. Like... a resurgence of the Neanderthal, but with most of the intelligence and cunning of a modern man (which is where the scary part comes in... and the reason this new change is so dangerous. That baser nature with current society's mindset? Yeah. I am totally in love with it already.). My story drops in after all males of maturity had already "devolved" or changed. Think of it like a werewolf-type thing, but without the werewolf lore monthly change, hair fangs, infectious bite... none of that. A zombie without the undead. A man-thing running on instinct rather than processed thought... but still capable of processed thought. Oh, and not post-apocalyptic. There are several of these cities enclosed in walls. A banding together... leaving the feral men outside.

Veinglory hit on something with the above suggestion. Activating junk genes could work. And to me, seems like my best choice with what I'm trying to do. It's knowing more of how a scientist would figure out my idea problem, in limited, but not destitute, supplies.

There's phone communication etc. But the cities are forced to move back in time... say, the early 1900's, but with technology of today within limited reason. Dial up internet etc. Certain men haven't changed but I'm not sure what age range that will be yet. The colony which this story is based in is in the country and not as advanced as some of the others, but they end up with the best evidence--a dead body to examine.

So, how would the small town doc who does scientific research as well, figure this out? That's what I need to know, mostly. Or try to. What tests would she run, what would she look at, DNA, fecal samples... urine, blood, how would she attempt to figure it out? The PoV is not the doctor, but she's a major character and they're all in it together. They don't want t save the world... they want to know how to survive. The few men who haven't changed can help (in most cases ;) ) make more boys, but they need to be able to ensure these boys won't change too.

Yeah. Am I making it too complicated? I know it's a lot of questions, but I want the actions to be accurate with how she'd research, even if the findings are a bit loopy. It is a story, I can activate genes and etc. It's knowing how they'd find out about it that need info on.

You guys have been great. Big thanks for the help and advice. I appreciate it.

EFCollins
12-19-2009, 10:10 AM
If you're looking to avoid some of the technical details - depending on the need of your stories - for slightly easier research Frank Herbert's "The White Plague" operated on the premise of something that affected only one gender. Wasn't too hard sci-fi and was fuzzy on the technical details, but it was believeable.

For me, at least.

thought about that. I just want to know what she'd do so if she mentions something in the story, and it's a needed something, I'll be able to do so without sounding like an imbicile, LOL.

Kitty Pryde
12-19-2009, 09:32 PM
That sounds like a pretty sweet premise for a story. Science-wise I think it'll have to be a bit hand-wavey. Since the majority of a population can't all get the same genetic mutation all at once...I would maybe go with a chemical in the environment/water supply that only affects people with a normal man's amount of testosterone maybe? That being most men. Then post-apocalypse-ish, it'll be even harder to keep the water and food supply clean.

As for sciencey testing... the stuff you need to run genetic type tests or the tests they do in a hospital require loads of chemicals and enzymes and such that come from suppliers and have a limited shelf life. It would be somewhat implausible that your characters have a well-stocked lab years after this event, which I presume would knock out most industry and shipping.

EFCollins
12-20-2009, 05:27 AM
I was thinking about that last night, Kitty Pryde. Chemical... or perhaps even medical? A medication that is widely prescribed, like the acne medication accutane? Accutane is prescribed for severe to disfiguring acne (and many men and women do have severe acne during puberty). In women, it can cause severe birth defect if they become pregnant while on the treatment. For men, there's no risk to their sperm. But maybe I could do something with it, or some other medication that "seems" to have no bad side effect on men. Women who take accutane are encouraged to take birth control--men have no such worries with this drug. (My soon to be ex-husband took accutane for years. He has disfiguring acne which has covered his face in mottled scars and deep holes, which is why he wears a full beard.) What if the drug isn't as safe for men as they thought? And it... I dunno, attaches itself to hormonal glands, kind of like steroids causing over-production of testosterone. Steroids could be another one to use for this, but it seems like the too obvious answer. Steroid treatments are used for a variety of things: breathing problems, boosts for hard to conquer infections, weight gain for under-weight people etc. Plus the abuse from athletes, from high-school level to professional level, and is mostly used by males.

Y'all... do you think something like that would work? Scientifically speaking.

icerose
12-20-2009, 07:45 AM
You could make up a mental disease, or a chemical that destroys parts of the brain. My father has what they call white matter disease (it's actually a symptom of a mitochondria disorder) and it is destroying his brain cell by cell. If you could speed it up and take away certain chunks leaving only the instinctual areas in tact, and maybe even eventually take that down too, you could possible achieve just what you're after.

MAP
12-21-2009, 05:53 AM
Cool idea, let me see if I can help. First of all, do they have all the medical and scientific knowledge of our time, or is this in the distant future. You say that they are forced to use technology in 1900's, but what does that mean? Do they have electricity, MRI's, lab equipment, the abiltity to sequence DNA? What forces the society to revert technologywise? Secondly, how much are you going to explain the science behind this? If this is from the POV of an expert, you will have to do a ton of research to make this "scientifically believable." I can point you in the right direction, but it will take a tremendous effort on your part. If it is from the POV of a layman, then you can do a lot of hand waiving with just a general idea. I strongly suggest not trying to explain anymore of the science then is absolutely necessary for the plot.



Okay, maybe I'd better explain a bit better of what I'm doing with the males. Devolving is not being used as a scientific fact (which it isn't) or actually in the story--more like a guideline word for me to go by for the idea in my head. It's more of an illusion to the concept. They don't become ape-like in nature, but more feral and animal-like in mannerism... rutting, hunting like predators, no weapons, feeding off anything. Not zombies! Normal men who, at full maturity, start exhibiting this behavior. They sometimes run on all fours, if hunting small game or chasing in "season" women; even their siblings and parents. The women haven't changed and are trying, through these well guarded colonies, to figure out wtf is going on. Increased violence in the males, squabbles among the herd etc. Like... a resurgence of the Neanderthal, but with most of the intelligence and cunning of a modern man (which is where the scary part comes in... and the reason this new change is so dangerous. That baser nature with current society's mindset? Yeah. I am totally in love with it already.). My story drops in after all males of maturity had already "devolved" or changed. Think of it like a werewolf-type thing, but without the werewolf lore monthly change, hair fangs, infectious bite... none of that. A zombie without the undead. A man-thing running on instinct rather than processed thought... but still capable of processed thought. Oh, and not post-apocalyptic. There are several of these cities enclosed in walls. A banding together... leaving the feral men outside.

Veinglory hit on something with the above suggestion. Activating junk genes could work. And to me, seems like my best choice with what I'm trying to do. It's knowing more of how a scientist would figure out my idea problem, in limited, but not destitute, supplies.

There's phone communication etc. But the cities are forced to move back in time... say, the early 1900's, but with technology of today within limited reason. Dial up internet etc. Certain men haven't changed but I'm not sure what age range that will be yet. The colony which this story is based in is in the country and not as advanced as some of the others, but they end up with the best evidence--a dead body to examine.

Why would it be hard to get hold of a dead body? Just shoot a guy and drag him in. I would think a live specimen would be more useful.


So, how would the small town doc who does scientific research as well, figure this out? That's what I need to know, mostly. Or try to. What tests would she run, what would she look at, DNA, fecal samples... urine, blood, how would she attempt to figure it out? The PoV is not the doctor, but she's a major character and they're all in it together. They don't want t save the world... they want to know how to survive. The few men who haven't changed can help (in most cases ;) ) make more boys, but they need to be able to ensure these boys won't change too.

I think she would look at DNA, feces, urine, blood, disect the brain, weigh the organs, and any other diagnostic she has the knowledge and technology to run. I would look into autopsies and see what is typically done.

A don't think a town MD will have the knowledge and experience to diagnose this. This is something for research scientists. Since phones work, I would suggest her collaborating by phone with an expert.

What they would do after the autopsy would be dependent on what they found, and what hypotheses develop. If you let me know what is causing the problem, we can work backwards.




Yeah. Am I making it too complicated? I know it's a lot of questions, but I want the actions to be accurate with how she'd research, even if the findings are a bit loopy. It is a story, I can activate genes and etc. It's knowing how they'd find out about it that need info on.

You guys have been great. Big thanks for the help and advice. I appreciate it.


You can really have what ever you want causing the problem. Anything can work if done correctly. Environmental factors are good (drugs or something in the water). Viruses can integrate their DNA into the host this could happen specifically at the Y chromosome if you want so it doesn't affect women. You can have it be genetic. We do have a lot of junk DNA, but you will have to explain why the junk DNA suddenly becomes active genes. I don't like the idea of extra chromosomes since chromosomes are HUGE and virtually impossible to get into cells. I know the sperms do it, but both the egg and the sperm are designed to interact in that way. I don't see somatic cells being able to do this.

Anyway, I would be happy to help you more on this, and beta read your science from your story to make sure there is nothing that makes me cringe. You can PM if you would like.

Good luck!!!

EFCollins
12-22-2009, 07:14 AM
MAP,

Hi and wow, thanks for the response! To answer your questions:


First of all, do they have all the medical and scientific knowledge of our time, or is this in the distant future. You say that they are forced to use technology in 1900's

Not the technology of the early 1900's... the living conditions of that time. Clapboard houses with dirt or plain wood floors built on a whim, their gated community is forced back in time. They've walled off the biggest part of town, but it didn't have enough room to house everyone. There is the doctor's office and lab, a grocery, convenience and clothing store, a church and a bunch of buildings thrown together to house everyone.

They have technology of today... this is set in the not so distant future. The small town doc does scientific research (or rather, she did before she came to the small town) so she has the know-how at least on a small basis... but I don't. ;) It is not in her PoV. I plan to have her talk on the phone and through internet (they still have dial-up services) with the people in the LA and NYC colonies to help with it.


Why would it be hard to get hold of a dead body? Just shoot a guy and drag him in. I would think a live specimen would be more useful.

Oh, it would be. But these feral men are quite a bit for women, old men and children to handle. Think of it like... a teenage boy trying to contain the Hulk. The feral men are impossibly, inhumanly strong and cunning as a cat a-running. They could shoot a specimen, but opening the gates to bring in the body would be like inviting a pride of lions to dine with a few zebra. There are massive amounts of the ferals outside... and only fifty or so in this colony. The other colonies would be better equipped to do so, but this is just the beginning (just after the men change, but they haven't wiped out everyone) and it's a race against the clock. The small fries get the dead boy first.

I'm steering clear of the virus idea. There's so much of it already that it's old... has been done... more than done. It's been so done it's burnt to a crisp.

I'm thinking medical/pharmaceutical or chemical. A new drug gone wrong, perhaps? Doesn't effect women because of the absence of testosterone and the Y chromosome? The new drug (thought to be benign and for something simple... like cold medicine) could be the answer to their prayers and the end of men on Earth.

Thank you so much for your response. I very much appreciate it. I will probably take you up on the offer to read it through. Once I figure out exactly how I'm going to make the men "change" I'll drop you a pm and we'll talk it over, see how to make it work. Thanks again... for the offer, and for the advice.

MAP
12-23-2009, 10:11 AM
I have a feeling that the research is subplot and not the main focus of the story. I am not sure how much you want to get into this, but here is my thoughts on what you have planed.


MAP,

Hi and wow, thanks for the response! To answer your questions:



Not the technology of the early 1900's... the living conditions of that time. Clapboard houses with dirt or plain wood floors built on a whim, their gated community is forced back in time. They've walled off the biggest part of town, but it didn't have enough room to house everyone. There is the doctor's office and lab, a grocery, convenience and clothing store, a church and a bunch of buildings thrown together to house everyone.

They have technology of today... this is set in the not so distant future. The small town doc does scientific research (or rather, she did before she came to the small town) so she has the know-how at least on a small basis... but I don't. ;) It is not in her PoV. I plan to have her talk on the phone and through internet (they still have dial-up services) with the people in the LA and NYC colonies to help with it.

So the doctor is an MD-PhD. I am not sure if that is the official term for it but someone who has an MD, but then goes on to get a doctorate in medical research. These people are essentially walking brains, so I am sure she could do the research, but collaboration with experts is still a good idea.



I'm thinking medical/pharmaceutical or chemical. A new drug gone wrong, perhaps? Doesn't effect women because of the absence of testosterone and the Y chromosome? The new drug (thought to be benign and for something simple... like cold medicine) could be the answer to their prayers and the end of men on Earth.

This could work, but there are some things to considered. First of all, drugs or chemicals can effect people only as long as they are in the body. So if it is going to be a chemical agent causing the problem, then it has to be in the air, water, or food supply, so that it is continually in the system otherwise the men would revert back once the substance is metabolized.

Maybe something new is added to the water to kill some nasty bacteria that contaminates the water supply which can't be eliminated by old methods, or maybe it's the fluoride that is already added to the water in most states (just to freak people out).

It could be in the food as well. Our fruits and vegetables are now being genetically engineered to grow bigger, stave off spoiling, and resistant to pests. Maybe one of these modifications done to nearly all plants causes the plants to produce the chemical of interest. Just a few ideas.

It is possible for a drug or chemical to be mutagenic and alter the DNA, then you would have a permenant effect without the chemical always being present in the system. The problem with this is that the mutation would have to occur on a specific spot in all of the males to have the situation you described, and this is just isn't likely to happen.

Mutagenic chemicals will not damage the DNA in every cell and are fairly random in where they damage DNA molecules and this includes all of our "junk DNA" in which a mutation would have no effect the individuals (some believe that junk DNA is kind of decoy to protect our important genes from getting damaged).

There are sequences of DNA that are more susceptible to certain types of damage, but still the probability of this specific mutation occuring in the very cells that express the specific gene in nearly every man is hard to believe. Especailly considering that our cells have complex systems of enzymes with the sole purpose to fix damaged DNA.

However, you don't have to be completely scientifically believable. If you present an interesting story with fascinating characters, I will buy into it even if there are a few flaws in the science.

If you want to go the drug route, I suggest that the drug was given to the pregnant mothers of the infected individuals that way the mutation occurs when there are few cells. This would increase the probability that the cell producing the gene of interest will have the mutation.

Titania
12-23-2009, 10:56 AM
This is not on the Science part.
You could take a look at Sheri S. Tepper's 'Gate to Women's Country' which has a similar premise -- post-apocalyptic world, loss of technology, men are excluded from society upon gaining adulthood with a few exceptions, society run pre-dominantly by women operates a bit differently.

Mac H.
12-23-2009, 11:53 AM
They don't become ape-like in nature, but more feral and animal-like in mannerism... rutting, hunting like predators, no weapons, feeding off anything.

..
Like... a resurgence of the Neanderthal, but with most of the intelligence and cunning of a modern man (which is where the scary part comes in... and the reason this new change is so dangerous. That baser nature with current society's mindset? Yeah. I am totally in love with it already.).I really like the basic idea, but I a couple of factors aren't quite meshing:

1. No weapons
2. Most of the intelligence and cunning of modern man

Part of cunning and intelligence is seeing what in your environment could be manipulated for your own means. Hitting the other guy with your hand? Not very useful. Hitting the other guy with a rock? Very effective.

That means that they would basically be using weapons if they are intelligent and cunning. Not sophisticated weapons, sure. But they'd figure out simple weapons fairly quickly if they are intelligent. Even worse, if they find modern weapons then I'd imagine that they'd still probably get the general gist of 'Point it at someone and pull the trigger'. Or 'sharp = cut'

They might not figure out the subtleties of reloading, etc - they'd probably try and stuff the spent cartridges back into the chamber - but that certainly add a bit of tension.

Good luck - it sounds really interesting (especially now that you've eliminated the 'devolving as a scientific concept' bit)

Mac

EFCollins
12-23-2009, 09:43 PM
What about Sporotrichosis, or other zoonotic diseases? Or parasitic bacteria? As I said, I'm trying to stay away from viruses, but there's bacteria to consider.

Bacteria give off by-products which cause the symptoms of diseases, the most common cause of bacterial infection. If, say, a bacterium can give off a substance akin to hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid and makes it easier for the bacteria to grow and live within the human body through the tissue, but this other enzyme is new, the bacteria has mutated and has a different effect on only human males... Could I do something with that? I wonder how she'd (the MD PHD)find the new secreted enzyme? Blood work, urine, fecal all that, sure, but how would it be identified? Would she first identify the mutated bacteria and then do further research to figure out the effects on the human body? The women could, then, also be carriers and have to be inoculated before having more children. Killing the bacteria may not revert the feral men to their former state, but treating before symptoms occur in pre-pubescent boys (and killing the bacteria in the women) would ensure future offspring, at least. Then it would be a simple matter of killing off the ferals and living life as best they can. hat would leave the problem of the "older men" who aren't effected. If the bacteria is new, the old guys wouldn't have an immunity to it either and therefore would also be effected. Leaving testosterone aside, what else could have decreased in men with age that the bacteria could feed from?

Does that scenario seem likely at all? I'm trying too hard, I think and need to just write the darned story (It's written, but there are big holes, which is why I'm here asking so many questions) but I really need to figure out what afflicts them. The whole blind affliction leaves the story too... generic and with too many unanswered questions. Again, I appreciate the help more than any of you will ever know. So, thank you.

ETA: Just as an aside, this is not post-apocalyptic. It's not end of the world-type scenario. Like I said, it's finding out how to prevent the end of man. It hasn't happened... yet.

Kitty Pryde
12-23-2009, 09:50 PM
How about...the bacteria turns testosterone into super go-crazy testosterone? Then girls and women will be fine, as they have low levels, little boys will be fine til puberty, and men over 40ish who have lower levels will be okay too?

EFCollins
12-23-2009, 09:55 PM
Could that happen? Theoretically speaking, of course. Does that *sound* plausible? I don't care if it actually is, but it has to at least sound credible.

(just so you know, it sounds pretty damn good to me, but I have a tenth grade education, so that doesn't count for much, LOL)

Oh, and for MAP: Yes, the research is more in the background. I can't bite off more than I can chew. I can't write scientifically and be effective because I just don't have the technical aspects down. However, I can allude to it... but I have to d it right. It's just my way. ;)

veinglory
12-23-2009, 10:00 PM
There is a known genetic mutation that causes high levels of testosterone and is connected with families that have high levels of violent crime and anti-social behavior.

MAP
12-23-2009, 11:15 PM
What about Sporotrichosis, or other zoonotic diseases? Or parasitic bacteria? As I said, I'm trying to stay away from viruses, but there's bacteria to consider.

Bacteria give off by-products which cause the symptoms of diseases, the most common cause of bacterial infection. If, say, a bacterium can give off a substance akin to hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid and makes it easier for the bacteria to grow and live within the human body through the tissue, but this other enzyme is new, the bacteria has mutated and has a different effect on only human males... Could I do something with that? I wonder how she'd (the MD PHD)find the new secreted enzyme? Blood work, urine, fecal all that, sure, but how would it be identified? Would she first identify the mutated bacteria and then do further research to figure out the effects on the human body? The women could, then, also be carriers and have to be inoculated before having more children. Killing the bacteria may not revert the feral men to their former state, but treating before symptoms occur in pre-pubescent boys (and killing the bacteria in the women) would ensure future offspring, at least. Then it would be a simple matter of killing off the ferals and living life as best they can. hat would leave the problem of the "older men" who aren't effected. If the bacteria is new, the old guys wouldn't have an immunity to it either and therefore would also be effected. Leaving testosterone aside, what else could have decreased in men with age that the bacteria could feed from?

This is a good idea. Many bacteria secret toxins like botulism. It could be an enzyme, but most likely it isn't, a protein or chemical that interacts with enzymes or DNA in the cells of the host. There are lots of bacteria living in us that are benificial to us, so I would have the mutation be in one of those types of bacteria, E-coli lives in our intestines for example, but there are others.

Your MD would probably find an unusual chemical in the blood stream, probably doing a screening that forensic scientists do when looking for alcohol levels or drugs. I am not a forensic scientist so I am not sure what method they use, but that is something you will have to look up.

As far as tracing it back to the bacteria, she would have to culture the bacteria. She might be able to find the toxin in the culture of the bacteria, but she might not. In the medium she uses to grow them in, the bacteria may not produce the same proteins that they would in growing in a human host. But examination of the DNA of the bacteria would confirm that they are responsible for the toxin.

This would be far more difficult for her to determine then it seems. She needs a good reason to suspect the bacteria. Maybe the toxin has high homology to a protein in E. coli or whatever bacteria you choose to use. Or the bacteria has been genetically engineered by scientist to provide more benefits to human hosts, so she has a reason to suspect the bacteria.

If the bacteria was engineered and administered to humans, that would explain why everyone would be infected with the mutant bacteria. Otherwise I don't know why the mutant bacteria would infect every single individual. The flora of bacteria living in all of is varies slightly from one person to another. But I think this can be forgiven. You are not going to get all of the science right no matter how hard you try.

There is no reason the old men wouldn't be infected by the bacteria if everyone else has it. But don't men go through some sort of male menapause. I would tie this all to the hormonal levels. I think that would explain why the young and old males are not affected.

I am not an expert on human physiology, so maybe someone else can help you, but Kitty's idea seems reasonable to me.

Libbie
12-25-2009, 09:14 PM
This is not on the Science part.
You could take a look at Sheri S. Tepper's 'Gate to Women's Country' which has a similar premise -- post-apocalyptic world, loss of technology, men are excluded from society upon gaining adulthood with a few exceptions, society run pre-dominantly by women operates a bit differently.

I'll also throw in Pamela Sargeant's "The Shore of Women" for a similar world. Read both books. They'll give you some insight into what's already been done with this trope, and could inspire your own storyline in the places where it's stuck.

RobinGBrown
12-29-2009, 07:00 PM
This might help it's an examination of how lots of stories treat evolution:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvolutionaryLevels

The men in the story seem to be:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FrazettaMan

Do be careful with the science or you might end up on this list:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouFailBiologyForever

Sorry to be down on the story like this but figuring out the difficulties will make it better.