By James Rollins
GLENN: I have to tell you that I am all for science. I love science. I'm a little creeped out by some of the science that we are doing when we are genetically altering people and foods. I believe in genetically altered food, you know, because it can produce more, et cetera, et cetera. Until you come up to the point to where, wait a minute, Dow Chemical needs to make money. So they're altering the seed as well so it won't reseed. Well, what happens if, you know, Dow Chemical isn't making the seeds anymore? What have we done? When it comes to genetically modifying humans and I mean, right now outside of Reno, Nevada, there are 50 sheep that have partially human livers, hearts and brains. Kind of like to know why. There's a book that is out. It's a novel. James Rollins is one of my favorite authors because he takes these really wild ideas and then and they're usually, they're usually mixed ancient history and then he brings it into a novel. The latest is Altar of Eden. James is on the phone with me now. How's it going, James?
ROLLINS: Hi, how's it going?
GLENN: Good, how are you?
ROLLINS: Doing great.
GLENN: Good. Read your new book. Love the premise behind it. Love the it was a little, quite honestly was a little creeped out by the whole swamp thing at the beginning. What the story line is you have a group of scientists over in Baghdad that have tried to mutate animals back to the way they were in the Garden of Eden.
ROLLINS: Exactly. Basically the story starts out in Baghdad, during the fall of Baghdad and American forces are fighting over that zoo and a lot of animals escape because the zoo was damaged, there's a lot of looting afterwards, animals are stolen for food, animals are stolen for the black market. Actually there was a flood of black market animals sold into U.S. market during that period of time. And me as a thriller writer, I'm thinking, well, what if somebody was manipulating those animals, something changed in those animals, what might happen.
GLENN: And so the animals then show up on the shores of the United States near Louisiana, near New Orleans, and they are genetically modified to be the animals that we saw here at the Garden of Eden. Can you give me some of the, give me some of the science that actually made you think down this.
ROLLINS: Well, comes to basically a term called Adamism or genetic throwbacks and it's where a trait that's considered lost from a species reappears in a species. And in this book I create like a python that has fully articulated reptilian limbs sticking out of its sides so it can crawl or slither depending on what it wants to do. And that is a known thing that happens in nature where a trait that's been lost reappears and the question I have is, you know, where's that coming from. There's our DNA's only, 5% of it actually is functional. The other 95%'s considered to be junk DNA, we don't know what it does. And where we think some of this genetic throwback occurs is in that junk DNA things that are inactive become active again. So it made me think, you know, is there a part of our genetic past locked in that DNA and if we begin manipulating that, could we, you know, re release what's been trapped in our past and that's what these scientists have been doing.
GLENN: There's also another part where it is collective thought.
GLENN: Where is the science on this? Explain this in the story line. And tell me the science on this.
ROLLINS: Well, this started out from doing research on birds. Birds have these little crystals in their brains called magnetite crystals and it's what allows them to align to the magnetic field to the Earth that allows them to migrate and it also is involved with their flocking behavior which if you've ever seen birds flock, you've seen them turn on a dime, you've seen fish do the same thing. And there's been some theories that there's maybe some communication that's occurring at a different level, and I'm again as a thriller writer wondering if we could find a way of tapping into that and expanding that because what we don't just found out is that not only do birds have these little crystals in their brains, so do humans. We have the same crystals. And the question really is why. And I explore the human animal bond in this book. There's a connection people have with animals, this sort of innate bond we have. Why did we domesticate dogs and different animals? What's the advantage of that? And newest research suggests that there is definitely sort of an effect animals have on us when we if you like cats and if you happen to be petting a cat, it lowers your blood pressure. Animals that are brought into nursing homes or into hospitals, we've seen that the presence of animals in a situation have a tendency to boost immune systems. It accelerates healing times. So it seems like humans and animals have this bond. And again I'm just wondering if someone could tweak that a little bit higher, what might happen.
GLENN: All right. So the name of the book is Altar of Eden by James Rollins. And Jim, is it true that you're writing, your next book is on the secrets of the founders?
ROLLINS: Everybody's letting that cat out of the bag. Yes, I've actually, the next book called The Devil Colony will deal with the founding fathers and the history of the U.S. Constitution. It basically will be covering, you know, why the creation of this country was so unique. There is some startling evidence, I've just pulled some research. Had nothing to do with the Free Masons. It's totally different. So I'm pretty excited about this book.
GLENN: What is can you reveal any of it?
ROLLINS: Well, it deals with, Thomas Jefferson is who I'm concentrating on in this novel. And Jefferson's an interesting man. He's almost like a Renaissance man. He wasn't just into politics. He was into sciences and into all sorts of different things. And reading into his past, looking at some of his writings in the past, there are some interesting things I'm going to expose in that book.
GLENN: Is it tied by any stretch of the imagination to anything in Mexico or language?
ROLLINS: Not Mexico but it feels with, I don't want to give too much away.
GLENN: That's okay. It's weird. Jim, we should talk off the air.
ROLLINS: You're close, you're close.
GLENN: I'm working on something actually with a guy who is investigating some things for me out of Cambridge, a theory I've been working on for a couple of years now. And we're trying to piece some things together because and the key for me was Thomas Jefferson and a little thing that I found about Thomas Jefferson that has just unlocked all of these doors in my head and so I currently have got a guy who is a professor of the history of ideas at Cambridge university and he is currently trying to track all of this stuff down to see if the theory is right. And I wonder if we're on the same track.
ROLLINS: I'm just wondering. Sounds a lot the same track I'm following.
GLENN: We have to talk off the air because I wonder if it is because it's fascinating had you ever heard it anywhere else, what you are working on, had you ever heard it anywhere else?
ROLLINS: What I've been covering, I have not heard it anywhere else.
GLENN: I wonder if it's the same thing. You know what's amazing to me, Jim, is how many things are starting to line up, how many people have you noticed this: How many people are starting to think the same kinds of things and move in the same kinds of directions when it comes with our founders? Have you noticed that?
ROLLINS: It is sort of unusual. There's definitely a lot more focus on that whole, you know, where do we come from. What I loved about my research is it exposes how unique the formation of this country was. I don't think people appreciate what a radical change the U.S. Constitution was. It was nothing like, it wasn't we just didn't glom onto an old European Magna Carta like system of government. You know, we created something totally new.
GLENN: It's weird because we are evolving into a European kind of system. This wasn't an evolution. It was a totally new idea.
ROLLINS: Exactly. And the question we have is this return to sort of a European social democracy that seems to be shifting in the country right now is we're shifting away from that uniqueness that is what the founding fathers created and why are we going back to the European form of government when we broke away from that.
GLENN: When does that book come out?
ROLLINS: It comes out in the middle last week in June.
GLENN: Great. James Rollins, one of my favorite authors. Altar of Eden is the latest book. It's available at bookstores, is it today or tomorrow?
ROLLINS: Came out last Tuesday.
GLENN: Yeah, is it the Island of Dr. Moreau came to mind at all?
ROLLINS: That's the you know, basically when I started this novel, I thought I was going to sort of do a modern take on the Island of Dr. Moreau.
GLENN: You absolutely have. You absolutely have. Great book. Altar of Eden, available in bookstores everywhere. Jim, thanks a lot.
ROLLINS: Thank you.
GLENN: You got it. Bye bye.