1. Wertyu
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    Wertyu New Member

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    Mutations?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Wertyu, Sep 20, 2015.

    Is it even physically possible for something organic to be mutated by radiation? Its in all post-apocalyptic stories, well at least the ones I've read.

    But I read somewhere online that its actually impossible to see such extreme mutations except birth defects.
     
  2. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Radiation does cause mutations in DNA but other than causing e.g. cancer (rapid, uncontrolled cell division) these mutations won't have any major effects on grown individuals. It can cause birth defects, though, since in those cases the genome is mutated in a very early stage and the mutations will be manifested in pretty much all cells in the body (as these are all copies of the initial zygote). As the zygote/embryo grows and cells differentiate to form the different parts of a body, the mutations may result in anomalies like modified RNA and proteins being produced, genes that should be on getting turned off (and vice versa), reproduction rate of different substances being modified, etc.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum.

    Mutations are how we evolve. Mutations can be good, bad or neutral. But radiation will not give you giant ants or spiders because it's acting on cells, not embryos. All the cells are not going to have the same mutations. One is more likely to get cancer than a beneficial mutation when the radiation is acting on a single cell.

    And one gets birth defects instead of beneficial mutations when radiation acts upon an embryo because it generally takes slowly accumulating small changes to get a large change. In essence, evolution is slow (depending on the birth cycle).

    Whereas a single mutation can cause a devastating change, you need natural selection pressures acting on random mutations for a multicellular organism such as an animal or insect to accumulate a series of beneficial mutations to get a significant genetic benefit.

    Single mutations can give you things like an extra digit or resistance to the plague. For humans though it takes thousands of years to get a whole population change such as evolving darker or lighter skin.
     
  4. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Are you going with the 'Hulk' type angle? Cause radiation made him big and green when he got angry.

    So your best bet is to simply ignore the 'rules' of radiation if your story demands it too. Though all the other posters have explained how it actually works.

    Besides there is plenty of radiation in our daily lives, besides the solar kind. :p
     
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or just write about a creature that mutates and do not attribute it to radiation. :)
     
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  6. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I thought I was a mutant once, but turns out I'm just something called 'well endowed' ... whatever that means.

    :supercheeky:
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure if I understand the question. But I'll theorize that you're asking whether it makes sense for "mutation due to radiation" to change an organism in many different ways that interact usefully? For example, to consider something like Spiderman, the ability to manufacture spiderweb goo, AND useful organs that can spit out that goo, AND all of the other things that make Spiderman spidery?

    I would agree that, yes, accepting that requires a huge suspension of disbelief. It's a very cartoonish situation. Aspects of an organism that tie together and work together usefully generally result from countless generations of genetic combination and mutation and evolutionary selection.

    One handwaving strategy to get around that could be to argue that all of those things did exist in the organism's ancestors, developed through normal evolution, and were lost due to the loss of one gene or some other factor--that is, that 99.9999% of the package is present in all humans or all of whatever organism we're talking about, and the mutation or some other thing just provided the remaining .0001%.
     
  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well then you have to explain the catalyst behind what is mutating them. And that is a laundry list a few miles long, and get quite in-depth and complicated. :p
     
  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mutation caused by radiation is possible, even likely.

    The reason that you're hearing about "extreme mutations...birth defects" is that MOST mutations don't survive to adulthood, they're so far from an improvement that brings added powers that they're actually life-threatening. The odd one mutation in a million (I'm guessing, I just know it must be a big number) that makes it to the next generation is probably only a teeny change, that will take several (and I may mean several hundred/thousand) generations to make enough difference for the fossil record to show it.
     
  11. Australis
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    Australis Active Member

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    Mother nature creates mutations. Mutations are how mother nature creates evolution. The problem is, these mutations are random. If 1 mutated gene almost always creates a defect, then a mutation is less likely to survive. Mother nature gets around this by repeating this process billions of times every day, like a crap-shoot. By sheer random luck, mother nature gets some right.

    The trouble is, radiation is like mother nature's crap-shoot on overdrive, minus the ability of time to weed out the defects. So, instead of attempting to crap-shoot a target with a shotgun from 1km, you're attempting to hit the same target by shooting from the moon (ok, physics fail there, because a shotgun pellet would burn up, but anyway).

    And "post-apocalyptic" radiation mutation is expecting a full shotgun bullet's worth of pellets to hit that target in one shot.
     
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  12. Wertyu
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    Wertyu New Member

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    Thank you everyone!
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love the image of shooting craps with a shotgun..."Bagged mesself a brace of craps today; we're going to have their heads mounted over the gun-room door".
     
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