Our DNA is Crowded into the Cell Nucleus like a Crowded NY Subway Train

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From left to right, the structures of A, B and...

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It astonishes me that our DNA is about 2 meters in length but fits in a cell only a few micrometers in size. How is this possible? It turns out our DNA is spooled and folded in ways that compact it into its very tight home. This means to activate or turn on a gene (piece of DNA), it must be unfolded and un-spooled first. This is a complex process that seems more like the workings of our home computer than our bodies. There is no doubt, in mind anyway, that we are programmed. We respond to our environment in ways we never dreamed of. As scientists search for life in more hostile environments it is clear we have to think very differently. If we were to send a spaceship to many different planets and satellites in search of life, what would be onboard? Any robot we build would survive only in a small number of environments. We wouldn’t know what those environments were until we got there. Imagine a nanorobotic device that can build a robot based on the environment it finds. It adapts to specifics as it goes. This would give the highest possibility of survival for the robotic on a foreign hostile planet. It is NOT farfetched to imagine that life here started in a similar way. These cells would grouped together and communicated as they evolved into more complex creatures. Interacting with ones environment would raise the possibility of survival.


DNAs Genius is in its Details


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Scientists have often wondered how DNA organized into only 30,000 to 40,000 genes (programs) could build something as complex as humans. It does seem strange at first sight but we have a man-made example that is very similar … computers! A typical computer contains around 100 to 200 instructions. These are mathematical, logical, moves and compares. How do these simple instructions get put together to form Windows, a photo editing software, movie editing software, games, etc. It seems hard to believe. Yet programmers constantly rearrange these instructions into new programs that do an endless number of tasks to help and amuse us. DNA is no different. Those 30,000 to 40,000 genes can be played (turned ON/OFF) in an endless number of ways to create different forms of life and to adapt to natures changing ways. We are adapting ever second of every day of our lives. Consider that most mammals have basically the same DNA as we do. They look and act very different from us. It is not what DNA you have but how you play it!

If all Human DNA is 99.9% Similar, How can Forensics Identify us via DNA?


By Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007. Image of E...

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I am often asked the question “How can my DNA identify me as a unique individual when all humans have 99.9% the same DNA? This is a great question. We have some 3 billion plus DNA letters in our genes. So a 1/10 of 1% difference represents still about 3 million differences. These differences account for how we look and who we are. Forensics cannot economically read all 3 billion codes from every sample yet. Instead, it knows areas where differences are located and samples only these areas. The Access Excellence Resource Center has an interesting article on this titled “Use of DNA in Identification”. So we are mostly the same as each other but our differences are in the tiny details.