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Ask Alan Your Questions

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Vegetarian Scientist, Alan Sage, spits rhymes on the spot, let’s see how he flows with some of your questions.

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Q: Ourcraigsmail

On the topic of genetic basis for vegetarianism, is there more intent in our human genetic makeup to evidence a million years of meat eating, thus vegetarianism is a choice of a higher brain function, or does the genetic evidence suggest that omnivore appetites in our great ancestors were incidental scavenging at best? Also, what other species show a transition from meat eating to vegetarian in their genetic makeups?

A: Alan Sage

That’s a great question, and one I’m not sure science has answered. A comparative study of vegetarian species to search for a so-called vegetarian gene would be a first step, but I wonder whether one would find this vegetarian gene in humans. I doubt it would be possible to determine who becomes vegetarian based on their genetic make-up since there are so many different levels of vegetarianism, and some people are for many years but then suddenly decide to start eating meat.

Q: Sherry Austin

Alan, if you don’t eat vegetables and you don’t eat meat, what the heck are you eating???? I’ve been called a Jewish mother so you’d better have a good answer!

A: Alan Sage

Matzah balls!

Q: Ms. Johnson’s Earth Science Class

Hi Alan,

My class and I were very impressed with your talents both in science and rapping. Here’s a few questions we had:

1) Were you nervous about the science fair?
2) Do you ever get made fun of because you rap?
3) Have you ever written your own rap about your science? If so what was it?
4) What is your view on the baggy pants trend?
5) Do you preform rap songs in front of people?

Looking forward to hearing your response!

A: Alan Sage

Hi Ms. Johnson!,

To answer your questions:

1) A science fair is definitely a nerve-racking experience. Before I went to Intel, I presented my project at NYCSEF (New York City Science and Engineering Fair), and one of my three judges just had it out for me. He was convinced that my project was an example of lab internships taking the soul out of science fair projects. That’s just an isolated incident, but it got me very off-balanced, and just goes to show that students have to be prepared for all kinds of obstacles, but should stay strong and confident anyway!

2) Only before people actually hear my raps–I think that’s because I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. As long as you rap about what you know, people respect that.

3) As I mentioned below, I haven’t really rapped about science experiments, but I love rapping about the philosophy of science.

4) Just wear a long enough white-tee and you’re fine.

5) I haven’t performed recently, though I may record a few songs over the summer. During the school year I’ve been focusing a lot on interviewing rappers in New Haven for a book I’m working on about them; some of my interviewees have a discipline in practicing freestyle that I really admire and hope to emulate.

Hope that helps!