DNA for Amateurs, Clockwork DeoxyriboNucleic Acid

by on March 26, 2008

I am taking this course in anthropology and I found out some interesting things about all life on earth.

First off all life on earth plants included have DNA and is transferable. That means that if you would take a gene from a plant and put into a rat, that rat will start producing the same types of proteins or enzymes as the plant. So far I did not see or hear that has been done to any non embryo animal. I did see a test done with lab rats that as embryos they either added the genes from a glowing fish or they just activated the gene. Whatever they did was interesting because the live rats were glowing in the dark. Pretty cool ha?

About DNA

Is also called a double helix, looks like a spiraling ladder that’s why the name. Three steps of the ladder form a codon, each codon codes for an amino acid. So you got it, ladder, three ladder steps = one codon, one codon = one amino acid.

Each codon can contain at each end one of the four bases: adenine (abbreviated A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). These bases act lets say like magnets, each one can only work or pair with only one from the rest of three. So that means that A pairs only with T and C only with G and of course G with C only and T with A only. If IF A connects lets say G that is an error and therefore nonfunctional amino acids are produced. As for example colorblindness and other more severe or lethal conditions. Amino acids form proteins most of the human amino acids are produced by living cells and very few out of a maximum of 20 are gotten trough nutrition process. Only a few numbers but when you are to combine chains of amino acids you get all sorts of proteins. The number of possible combinations is huge somewhere in the trillions.

Think of this the DNA sits in the cell’s nucleus and is wrapped tightly in form of chromatids. But if you were to unwrap it, it would be 6 feet long from something that is not visible to the naked eye .

I find this interesting because I am studying computer science. Digital electronics work as clockwork and really fast. A single human cell has 30,000 chemical reactions per second. A large part of those reactions are producing proteins. The DNA opens up (Unzips) and the RNA enters the nucleus and is matched base to base. Every A with every U (Uracil) and Every C with every G. Yes RNA has Uracil instead of Thymine. Now after everything is matched. The “RNA configured by the DNA” leaves the nucleus and goes to the ribosomes where the production of amino acids starts. the ribosomes work exactly as an assembly line. You insert the DNA on one end each codon is read and an amino acid is produced for every three codons and conected to the chain until a stop codon is met. Then the ribosomes continue coding for the next gene in the chain until next stop. Each gene in the chain codes for a protein composed of a chain of amino acids. No wonder that Mr Ford invented the assembly line. It was in our cells. The interesting part is that he invented the assembly line before the discovery of the DNA and the ribosomes’ functionality. I guess he was very in tune with his ribosomes, they spoke to him…

So DNA works like computers or even better said, computers work as DNA. Think of this, DNA produces errors just as computers. In computers we use redundancy (adding extra bits to the chain will tell if an error has been produced) to protect against errors the same with DNA. Different codons code for the same amino acid thats why 64 of them for only 20 amino acids, therefore the redundancy. Computers work too as chains of ones and zeros and with some mathematics you get all the neat stuff that you generally see today in PC’s. All the activity in a cell has to happen fast and correct the same with computers. Imagine when you go to your ATM and waiting like 10 minutes for a simple transaction and or getting the wrong amount, or getting an erroneous transaction and later find your checking account empty.

The difference is that computers use only two values, ones and zeros whereas DNA uses four values. So, 0 – 1 for PC’s and 0,1,2,3 for DNA. I was reading articles that DNA can be used to build computers with. I always found this interesting but now knowing more about both, I have to tell you that we lack the logic operations to work with four values. Research is being conducted to develop the logical operations that will enable us to use four values but research usually means lots of failures and very little progress, therefore we don’t know yet. Returning the the two values the literally mean “yes” and “no” or “True” or “False”. If we were to have four what would the other two mean. This is boolean algebra which was developed by George Boole.

So for anyone that did not know, living organisms are the most precise functional entities we ever laid eyes on.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

cvetidushi February 15, 2009 at 4:11 am

Well yes, interesting history

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