Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The curse of the X chromosome

Do women have multitasking wired into their chromosomes?

I recently read a comment on one of the translator mailing lists that I belong to that went something like this:

What's the difference between a male and a female translator?

When a male translator takes a break, he has a smoke, surfs the internet, watches TV or some other such fluff.

When a female translator takes a break, she loads the washing machine, runs the vacuum, takes the dog out, puts the laundry away, pays the bills and cooks dinner.

This article in the NYT gives fascinating insight into the wiring of the X chromosome...

"In fact, it is to compensate for the monomania of the Y that the X chromosome has become such a mother of a multitasker. Over the 300 million years of evolution, as the Y chromosome has shrugged off more of its generic genetic responsibilities in pursuit of sexual specialization, the X has had to pick up the slack. It, too, has pawned off genes to other chromosomes. But for those genes still in its charge, the X must double their output, to prod each gene to spool out twice the protein of an ordinary gene and thus be the solo equivalent of any twinned genes located on other, nonsexy chromosomes. "
I need to go vacuum now.


Cate said...

Oh I will be back to talk about this, but right now my son is whining.

Cate said...

My friend and I had nearly the same conversation yesterday. She called to come over with her kids for a few hours, and I said sure. my husband, who had the day off to reshingle "the side of the house" (one small area of the garage-which took him 8 hours) looked at me in disbelief. "Emily is coming over? But we have construction, and so much laundry to do." Yes, he actually said that. Not only did I entertain my friend, but I made muffins too. And by the end of the day I had finished 3 loads of laundry, swept the first floor, made dinner, and took care of my kids. Oh, and I cleaned the half bath and then went shopping. I'm waiting for my award and trophy. And it better be shiny. :)