Genealogy – predicting what ancestors looked like

Buried in an article about “A genomic entrepreneur plans to sell genetic workups for as little as $250” is perhaps an even more striking claim that “the [Human Longevity Inc, HLI] company is trying to show it can predict from genes exactly what people look like.”

While the project is not complete, and some might look at this futuristic capability as a way to make designer babies,  it excites me instead as an amateur genealogist.  I mean, how cool would it be to find out exactly what an ancestor or famous person from the past looked like by having just a small sample of DNA?  Could the technique eventually be extended to look back by using a number of samples of descendants today?  In other words, if you don’t have a DNA sample for the ancestor, could you use DNA samples from descendants in such a way as to predict closely what that ancestor must have looked like?  Want to know who that man is on the right in an old family photo?

Yes, I’m ignoring the obvious usage of this technology for forensics, mostly because it could be kind of spooky in this regard to know what someone looks like just from a DNA sample.  Talk about profiling.  This is the stuff of science fiction today, though J. Craig Venter says that HLI can already describe the color of your eyes [from your DNA] better than you can.

Will predicting looks from DNA be the next tool on one or more of the genealogy websites?  Who knows when that might happen, but if you are interested in this subject as I am, you might enjoy the Ted talk below.

By the way, in the next year I plan to release a new e-book collection of my published stories related to genetics.

Time travel can be confusing

The time travel television series “Continuum” starts its final season — just 6 episodes — on the SYFY channel (Friday, September 11, 2015.  Those of us who have enjoyed this time-hopping show are happy to have a final season to wrap up the plot, not to mention a few more episodes with this fun and talented cast.  If you need a refresher on what happened in previous seasons, you can take SYFY’s “Continuum 101”.

Not every viewer has enjoyed the trip through time.  Some have stopped watching the show, because they either were confused by some of the events, or often because it didn’t adhere to their political, philosophical, logical, or common sense point-of-view.  That can easily happen with any time travel story, because inherently it is difficult to imagine that time travel can even occur, let alone be understandable in any simple way.

But, for me, time travel stories go beyond mere logic.  After all, how can time travel be logical?  There is the multiverse, where changes to the timeline just create a new timeline, or nature may correct any changes to the timeline.  But these are just theories.  So when I think, write, read, or view time travel, my personal choice is to enjoy the ride.  If it becomes too uncomfortably silly, or crosses outside my believability meter, that may be the point I stop at.  However, I really enjoy time travel as a science fiction theme, so I tend to have a high tolerance for these things.  Maybe others do too, since “Continuum” has a 7.8 rating on IMDB.

Many time travel themes have been experimented with by the writers of “Continuum”, such as back in time, forward in time, time travel romance, betting with future knowledge, and causal loops — when a future event is the cause of an event in the past.  I’m surprised I haven’t seen time travel tourism yet, although maybe I just missed that.  I mean, wouldn’t it be fun just to go to some period in time and enjoy it for an hour or a day?  Mostly on “Continuum” the events appear to be pretty serious stuff, though the Matthew Kellog character has had a sense of humor about it at times.

If you find you enjoy time travel, like I do, you might also enjoy my best selling e-book anthology (“Science Fiction: Time Travel”) which contains four of my published short stories.



There’s Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Decopunk, Atompunk, Biopunk, Nanopunk, and Dreampunk.  Do you even know what all of these are about?  I admit, that I couldn’t define all of these.  Now, according to there’s also Solarpunk.

Like Solarpunk stories about attempts to live in harmony with the Earth or not, I am in favor of more science fiction that has a positive outlook on the future.  There’s plenty of scifi that does not.

Punk or not, Solarpunk or not, I like how science fiction attempts to paint a picture of the future.