Here are some fun facts about DNA, taken from the DOE website:
The human genome contains 3164.7 million chemical nucleotide bases(ATCG).
The average gene consists of 3000 bases, but sizes vary greatly, with the largest known human gene being dystrophin at 2.4 million bases.
The total number of genes is estimated at 30,000 to 35,000.
Almost all (99.9%) nucleotide bases are exactly the same in all people.
The functions are unknown for over 50% of discovered genes.
Less than 2% of the genome codes for proteins.
We eat about 93,000 miles of DNA in an average meal.
The shape of the double helix is incredible enough that it has become a theme in various forms of art and architecture:
(Stairs in France, A window at CSU, A necklace made by Quill, Statue at CSU, fountain photos taken by Kaj, Sculpture from a museum in Finland)
Here are some amazing DNA-Related links to expand your mind with:
First, the Human Genome Project, the project that made me first fall in love with genetics. They have completed sequencing the entire human genome.
Second, a list of 8 large-scale genome sequencing projects going on RIGHT NOW! Looking through this list really opens one's eye to what kind of information DNA can provide us with and the broadness and complexity of it all.
Panspermia is a website with really intriguing and easy-to-understand articles about relevant DNA topics. If you're bored and want something interesting to read about, go here!
The Genographic Project takes a new look at human history in terms of migration and mutation of humans across the world. My grandfather's DNA was donated to this project, too! This is one of those sites that makes me proud to be human.
Now for some interesting DNA-related topics of the year.
First, when taking into perspective the prospects of how DNA will be used in the future, and letting the public's imagination run wild with it, it's brought about various fears of being judged and categorized by our DNA. There have been lots of awesome movies and books about dark futures where your genes matter more than what's in your brain. It's somewhat of a realistic fear that something like this could happen. In response to that, the U.S. has now made a public law called the, "Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008." It states that we can't be judged based on our DNA. Hopefully, though fun to read about in scifi, none of those dark futures will actually come in to existance.
Next, have you ever heard of parasitic DNA? Just as there are parasites and viruses that use other creatures to propogate their own existance, there are bits of DNA that do that also. I find this topic rather fascinating. There is no doubt that in our own genome, bits of DNA are being replicated not to serve us any purpose, but simply to reproduce themselves. Here is a book review that goes more in depth on that topic: The Dark Side of DNA
For a more in depth look at such kinds of DNA, check on the Transposon site on Wikipedia. This has really intriguing information about transposons, mobile DNA that can move around in the genome, and retroviruses. The woman who discovered this kind of DNA won a Nobel Prize for it. The topic is really fascinating and a little creepy. It makes you think a lot more about what goes on in your cells.