Just a couple of interres... (17 May 2003)

Just a couple of interresting snippets from New Scientist that I picked up this morning:

Firstly, there is a really terrible soap called Eastenders in the UK, possibly we export it too - I'm not sure. Anyway - like any soap it's completely over the top; at least it seems that way. New Scientist has figures averaged over the 18 year run time of Eastenders:

BehaviourReal Life (% of pop)Eastenders (% of pop)
Homicide0.0016 %/year0.22 %/year
Rape0.3 %/year0.35 %/year
Infidelitywomen: 9 %/year, men: 14.6 %/yearwomen: 2 %/year, men: 1.7 %/year
Men paying for sex4.3 %/year0.18 %/year
Deceived fathers10 %/year5.8 %/year

So, except for homocides, Eastenders is actually tamer than real life (consider that rape is vastly under reported in offical statistics). That is a deeply depressing thought.

On another topic, a couple of pages later

The vassopressin receptor gene (...) is controlled by a promoter whose length varies between species. The expression of this gene in certain parts of the brain in rodents seems to be necessary for them to form monogamous pair bonds - to fall in love, as it were.

(...) the prairie vole has a 460-base-pair insert in the gene's promoter which is lacking in its close relation, the montane vole. This has the effect of causing the gene to be expressed in a part of the paririe vole's brain where it is absent in the montane vole. It makes that part of the brain sensitive to vasopressin, a molecule released into the brain by the act of sex. (...) the male prairie vole becomes "socially addicted" to females it has had sex with, whereas the montane vole is socially indifferenet to its mates. (... the first species is monogamous, the second polygamous ...) The human vasopressin receptor gene looks not unlike the parires vole gene in both its promoter length and its expression pattern. But it varies in length between individuals. (...) the probability of divorce is highly heritable, and adopted people are more like their biological parents than their adoptive parents in this respect.