Why are we the way that we are - is it nature or nurture? This week, Bill Nye answers a question from Evan, who is having a science argument with his mom.
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Evan: Hi Bill. My name is Evan. I am 16 years old. Here's my question for you, are physical traits such as height determined mostly by genes or by nutrition and exercise? Give me a percentage number. My mom and I are having an argument over this and I heavily believe that it's more of the genes that contribute to this trait such as height. Thank you.
Bill Nye: Evan, that's a great question. The right answer is clearly both. So, some people are genetically predisposed to be tall as you point out, but I can tell you people in the West, like in our civilization here in the United States and Canada, are getting taller; offspring are growing taller and taller and that is almost certainly do to improved nutrition. And archaeologists who love this stuff go digging up old graves in big cities and they find that people in the 1700s and the 18th century were not as tall as their descendants are today. And this is almost certainly a result of nutrition. So it's both. Furthermore, it's something that just fascinates me. In Africa - all of our ancestors are ultimately from Africa. And Africa you find indigenous people, tribes who have lived there for millennia that are both very tall where food is abundant and there's other tribes that are not especially tall where food is harder to get. And it's fascinating. Right there to this day you can find where the environment, the evolutionary pressure to find nutrition, to find food has affected the success of offspring. If you're too tall and there's not enough food around you can't feed yourself and so you don't have kids. If on the other hand you live where food is abundant, fruit is growing on trees, as the saying goes, you can be taller and be just ultimately a bigger animal in the same forest, in the same jungle and just be more successful. So the answer is both. You've got to eat breakfast. I'll leave you with that. If you don't eat breakfast you're just not going to be as successful in life.
Tagged under: Bill Nye,The Science Guy,Biology,Genes,Evolution,Medicine,Nature,Nurture,Behavior,Exercise,Height,Traits,Archaelogy,Heredity,DNA,Genetics,Diet,Nutrition,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU
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