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What links actresses Julia Roberts, Geena Davis and Holly Hunter? They all have twin children. You probably have some twins in your family or school – there are more of them about these days.

Twins

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Twins

by Richard Sidaway

What do the singer Alanis Morissette, the supermodel Gisele Bundchen and the ex-Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan all have in common? The answer is, they all have a brother or sister who was born on the same day as them – a twin. And what links actresses Julia Roberts, Geena Davis and Holly Hunter? They all have twin children.

You probably either have some twins in your family or you know/knew some at school – there are more of them about these days. This is because women are older when they have their first child and because more women are having fertility treatment. Both of these things increase the probabilities of two babies developing from the same egg.

The USA seems like a particularly good place to have a similar sibling. At the University of Minnesota they have been studying 8,000 pairs of twins since they were born. In the state of Ohio, there is a festival for twins every year in a place called… Twinsburg. And in New York there is even a restaurant which employs 37 sets of identical twins!

Scientists love twins. Because they share the same genes, any differences between them must be because of environmental factors. Science now understands more about heart disease, cancer, and getting old from studying twins.

Sometimes twins are separated at birth and only meet again when they are grown up. Even so, they sometimes make choices in life which are strangely similar. One pair only met each other after 40 years apart and found that their wives had the same name. And so did their children and their pets!

Is there a difference between being physically identical and only being born on the same day? I knew a pair of non-identical twins when I was a boy. They were proud to be completely different from each other. One was very short-sighted from an early age and wore glasses. He picked up the local accent and was obsessed with trains. His brother spoke with a posh accent and was very musical. The first became a train driver and moved to Scotland. His brother went to a music college in London and became a concert pianist.

I have recently been the teacher of two pairs of identical twins - I often have difficulty telling which is which. Luckily they don’t seem to mind. One day, I gave them a list of questions to see what they felt about being so close. Each twin answered the questions in a separate room.  

Both pairs said they did many everyday activities together - studying, shopping, watching TV, or just spending time together. Both pairs had similar tastes in music and food, and even thought their voices sounded the same sometimes. Both pairs also commented that they would like more time to themselves…

When I asked them what they were good at in school, one pair wrote the same five subjects almost in the same order. The other pair only had three subjects in common - one was interested in the Arts and the other more in science subjects.

I also asked them if they ever had the same thoughts as their twin. The first pair said yes –for example, one of them often started talking about what the other one was thinking. Strangely, the other pair disagreed about whether this was true. One of the twins said that her sister would take the words out of her mouth, while the other said this never happened to her.

The most interesting thing for me was studying the results of the psychological part of the test. I asked them to describe their personality using twelve different pairs of sentences. I found that each twin gave almost identical answers to her sister!

Glossary

have in common: when two things or people are the same in some way

there are more of them about these days: you can see more of them now than in the past

increase the probabilities of: it is more possible that it will happen

grown up: adult

after 40 years apart: they were separated for forty years

short-sighted: when you have difficulty seeing things far away from you

picked up the local accent: started speaking with the same pronunciation as people who live near him  

was obsessed with: thought continually about the same thing

telling which is which: to distinguish one person from another

had similar tastes in: liked the same things as someone else

time to themselves: time alone

take the words out of her mouth: to say exactly what another person is going to say

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I think studying twins behavior is very important, and it can open the gates toward the unknown, what I am trying to say here is if the identical twins behavior to an outside stimulant is the same ok they have the same genes and they live in the same environment there behavior should be identical, this will leads us to another question this will prove that the human behavior is confined and can be defined and predicted according to his genetics and the environment he grew up in, ok this will leads us to the following conclusion: crime it is a human behavior and since the behavior is influenced by the person genetics and again by the environment he grew up in which by the way he didn't have the choice in, then this makes me question the punishment that this person will have in regards to his action since he didn't have the choice in his genetics or in his surrounding environment ie in his behavior, and again  this will lead me to a bigger and wider question, the religion, clearly all religions have forbiddings something to do something not to do then if the persons behavior is governed by his genetics and the surrounding environment how could he be punished or rewarded for his behavior, since he didn't have the choice in his genetics or the environment he grew up in and in turn his behavior.
here is another thought what if the since came up with a way that can predict our behavior, imagine a super computer provided with this program, and a data base with every persons genetic map and his history, then is it possible that we could predict future?
too much to think of, this twin thing gave me headaches, oh my brain that's too much to bear?

I've met only two pairs of twins till now.One pair is when I attended chinese school and the other pair is in the medical university I am attending now.Both of them look the same.But I can distinguish them 'cause their tastes of like are different.For example,one likes in her hair to be in straight&black style and the other in wavy&colourful style.Twins with different tastes of like is also a good thing .They don't have to quarrel on the same only thing they want.Usually,twins are more easily notice by people.

I really like this topic, especially 'cause I have twin sister. We are very close, always do things together. We are identical twins..we are much alike..we studied together in the same class, and i can't imagine my day without her. Despite we are very identical, we have a different characteristics. I'm more active than her, more sociable and more emotional than her.
I love the fact that I have someone who is always by me and give me a support in all things, whatever I do  :)
We have spent nineteenth years together, being together whole day, and we will go to university together,too. So, i don't know how we will live apart when we get married. But, i don't want to think about that now, 'cause I am enjoying today with her and that's all. :D

I like this text, especially the idea of studying twins to discover more about diseases, or the influence of environment on their choices, their tastes. 
I and my sister are identical twins, we have the same faces, almost the same voices. We studied together, we always do things together. It's fantastic to have always some body around you that understands you and helps you. 
Now we are in our thirteens, we are both single, and the idea of getting married and going away from my sister terrifies me. I even think that my need to my sister overtake those for my dad and my mother. I like the idea of keeping living together at the last days of my life. It's strange but this is the truth. My sister is my soul mate. 
 

I’m a fraternal twin and always enjoy reading about this topic.  Identical twins share the same placenta and come from one fertilized egg, whereas fraternal twins each have their own placenta and come from 2 different eggs. Think this is correct, not sure though.
 
I find research done in this area quite fascinating, as identical twins seem to have many similar ‘coincidences’ in their lives as mentioned in the text.
 
Teachers at school often separated my sister and I during tests, as we seemed to give the same answers to questions.  I’m a bit short-sighted in my right eye and she in her left. Perhaps just a coincidence. ☺
 
However, I’m certain that my twin sister and those who know us well would agree, that we have different personalities. For me being a fraternal twin is more like having another sister, which is good. Also important is that our parents didn’t compare us, such as who is better/ worse ... which I believe has made life a bit easier for their 4 children. Interesting article and task, thank you.
 

Your texts

Suad writes “From my experience I think identical twins do the same things. But I have also noticed that if one identical twin likes the right side then the other likes the left side. My partners are twins and one of them writes with her left hand and the other with her right hand. One of them wears her hair to left and the other to the right. But non-identical twins are different in everything. I wonder what decides if twins become identical or not in our body? Any way, my uncle's daughter gave birth to four daughters at the same time. Three of them are identical but one is different in physical appearance.”