Assassin's Creed's Genetic Memory Fiction Might Be Rooted In Science Fact

by Mike Futter on Dec 05, 2013 at 01:12 PM


Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have published a paper in Nature Neuroscience that adds evidence to the existence of genetic memories. While the research team isn't likely to invent an Abstergo Animus device to dive into our ancestors' memories, the science hints that there is a kernel of truth in the fiction.

The researchers used a combination of scent and condition to instill a dislike of the smell of cherry blossoms in mice. According to the research, that reaction was present in the subsequent two generations.

The matter was discussed on The Takeaway with John Hockenberry. During the show, Hockenberry plays a clip of Dr. Moshe Szyf, an epigeneticist at McGill University, who says that there has been other evidence, but it hasn't previously been shown so specifically.

According to David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us, suggests that a dozen experiments have shown that the epigenome (a more mutable expression of traits) can be affected by environmental factors. Epigenetics is a focus of cancer researchers.

Ultimately, the alterations to the epigenome can be passed down to offspring, while the genome stays the same. "Today we know for sure that we can alter our own epigenome and pass that on to our kids and grandkids," Shenk says.

So while it's unlikely that we'll be witnessing a battle between assassins and templars or an entertainment device that can transport us back in time, it's interesting to know that the actions we take today could have significant impact on those that come after.

[Source: The Takeaway]


Our Take
This isn't normally the kind of the news we'd cover, but the potential links between Assassin's Creed and real science were too good to pass up. If you'd like to learn more, I recommend listing to the entire interview with David Shenk and reading up a bit on his work.