Imagine that we are carrying every memory from our ancestors in the code of our DNA. That’s the premise of DNA memory and it is a fascinating concept to consider.
It’s also a concept that is more sci-fi than science, as of now. Still, there are scientific studies that have looked at how memories of various traumas are passed down through the generations. An example of one of these types of studies is explained in a 2013 Emory University School of Medicine article published in Nature Neuroscience.
On a more pop culture note, there’s a great Vice article from 2016 entitled Can We Access the Memories of Our Ancestors Through Our DNA? Carl Jung, Assassin’s Creed, cognitive neuroscience, genetic memory, passed down traumas, and future research possibilities are all discussed in this piece.
If DNA memory were to exist, it would involve epigenetics. According to MedlinePlus, epigenetics is the study of how cells control gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. The 2013 Emory University of Medicine report was an epigenetic study.
We never know what may be around the corner, scientifically or otherwise. Let’s pose that in 20 or 30 years, not only is DNA or genetic memory confirmed to exist, there are avenues to access specific memories from specific ancestors…
Would you want to go there?
Another somewhat related idea is the concept and ability of data being held in quartz crystals. If you’ve ever read a Superman comic or seen one of the movies, then you’re familiar with the crystals in the “Fortress of Solitude” that contained the memories, wisdom, and instructions of Superman’s (Kal-El’s) family members and other Kryptonians.
Believe it or not, researchers in the U.K. have created a way of 5D quartz data storage, allowing for data storage of over 300TB for supposedly billions of years. The Futurism website 2016 article, Memory That Lasts Forever: New Quartz Coin Can Store 360TB of Data for 14 Billion Years, explains a bit about it. 5D quartz data storage is also referred to as *drumroll, please* Superman Memory Crystal technology.
Again, the question begs, if there were a way to access the memories of our ancestors-would you want to? I personally think that it would be amazing to be able to go straight to the source in terms of learning family history information. The thing is, there’s a reason they say “ignorance is bliss.”
The very idea of having access to not just the benefit of ancestral information, but the burden of it gives me pause in all of my excitement about the possibility of genetic or DNA memory. Do I have the bandwidth to absorb generational pain and trauma untold? Do any of us? Is it morally right to attempt to illuminate every crevice of the past? Should some things be left unsaid, unknown?…
The good news is that we are probably many, many years away from having to consider the answers to these questions, if at all. Even so, there’s always the possibility that the doors of DNA memory will open even sooner, when we least expect them to.
What are your thoughts on the very idea of DNA or genetic memory?
Here are some book suggestions and related to this topic:
This could be our situation…
The Genealogy Situation Room
3 thoughts on “DNA Memory|The Very Idea…”
I don’t want the memories, just the knowledge. I’m a little creeped out by thinking someone in the future will read my memories like a diary! (Shivers.) I don’t want to pick up memories like baggage I can never deal with, like stories of abuse that I’ve heard from my family. I’d like just a glimmer of their life, such as their kitchen, their dress, their food, their humor, and maybe settle a paternity issue now and then.
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Very well said! Thank you for stopping by.