On the front page of the New York Times is the following story: “Father’s Age is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia.” As I read through the article, I had the following thought: where is Darwin to explain this one? As more and more young adults (around ages 18 to 25 – what is also referred to as “emerging adulthood” by many developmental researchers) stay in school for longer, or take a longer time establishing themselves and their career, the time for parenthood seems to inevitably get pushed backwards. As explained in the NYTimes piece, an article in Nature came out today states that many cases of autism and schizophrenia could be explained by the age of the father. The older the father is at conception, the higher the chances of more mutations occurring that could lead to either of these disorders. Can these mutations in the father’s cells be explained by evolution? Is the human male body adapting to the demands of older age during conception? Is this some sort of survival mechanism that we are unaware of? If it is, as the authors of the article state that this shouldn’t influence one’s parenting decisions, then can someone explain the benefits of these newly found mutations, since the costs are pretty obvious?
I recently went to a baseball game with a friend of mine who is a complete baseball junkie – one of those people that can call the pitch from his seat overlooking home plate. Ever since the game, I feel as if I have become more and more aware of news and media pertaining to the intersection of sports and science. For example, this article in NPR today on Fantasy Baseball for Physicists. Crazy huh?!