1. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Heredity in the Middle Ages

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Kratos, May 28, 2008.

    In the Middle Ages, what did people believe determined our genes? Like, how a son could have the same hair as his mother and the eyes of his father, or something like that?

    In my book, there's a character who knows about DNA, but is trying to explain it to someone who doesn't (my book's fantasy, middle-age like).

    How could I explain this, and what could I call DNA, seeing as they wouldn't call it deoxyribonucleic acid.

    Thanks in advance. :cool:
     
  2. Eathis
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    Eathis Member

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    essence?
     
  3. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Hmm...sounds pretty good. Any other ideas?
     
  4. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    All throughout the middle ages, people had a very strong belief in magic and the supernatural, you see it a lot when you read medieval histories. If someone was trying to explain stuff like that, there's a very good chance they'd end up getting barbecued for being a witch or incubus or something of that nature! So I'd have him try something in the nature of a parable to explain the idea, as it really would likely be completely beyond someone's comprehension in those times without spending hours filling them in on all manner of scientific principles.

    Al
     
  5. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Will of God.
    The father and mother each put part of their being into creating a child, thus the child would look like them. God wants them to know who the father and mother were, and to let them pass on a little bit of themselves for the future.
    They wouldn't know the technical terms, or even the science behind it, but they would realize the basics. A lot of farmers would realize it simply through breeding livestock. You want big healthy cows, make two big healthy cows mate. You want a black horse make two dark horses mate.
     
  6. Kratos
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    Al B: The person is being accused of being a magic-user. He has a "power" that is actually a part of evolution. He is trying to explain to someone who just now realized that she has this power. He's trying to prove to her that it's not magic.
     
  7. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Okay, he wants someone to believe something is science, but that person believes it is magic, so, the obvious thing he can do, is choose another scientific thing which the accuser believes would be magic, explain how to do it (but not the science part) and then have the accuser do that thing, thus convincing the doubter that scientific things are known by him that others might see as magic. Because he has demonstrated the truth of this, he can simply explain DNA and the accuser would be more likely to take his word on trust.

    Something simple, for example, would be to create a compass by rubbing a piece of metal between the palms of his hands (which temporarily magnetises it), placing it on paper (or a leaf if it's early medieval and paper is not available) and floating it in a glass of water, so it points north. If the doubter did that, it would scare the crap out of them in medieval times. That's just an example of course, there are any number of other such similar things you might choose that were unknown in such times which he could have his accuser do.

    If he has some time, he could demonstrate something similar to DNA by cross pollenating a flower with another one to create a hybrid, such as a red rose with a bluebell to create something with characteristics of both flowers, thus indicating that both flowers have a genetic code. Kind of a nice touch too, since it alludes to 'the birds and the bees'.

    Al
     

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