National DNA Day started in 2003 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's famous experiment determining the double helical molecule as being the source of genetic material and also to signify the completion of the extensive human genome project. Now, many entire genomes have been recorded and are being used in various ways to help people around the world.

1. Celebrate that DNA has made you who you are. You were born into the human race, with your hands, feet, eye color, the size of your brain. Be grateful for all the things DNA has provided for you, the ability to run around, process food, see, hear, combat disease, resist injury, grow fingernails... We spend a lot of time already being concerned with our bodies, our imperfect skin, our weight, our hair.. Today let's celebrate that we have bodies to begin with, and have the capacity for so many things because of that!
2. Celebrate the discoveries about DNA that have helped us. By identifying which genes cause which problems, scientists have made amazing medical advances. Forensics are a piece of cake compared to before we could do DNA analysis. DNA samples found in ancient places has shed new light on history.
3. Celebrate what DNA can do for us in the future! Genetically modified crops may ease world hunger. Adding, deleting, or changing genes will help a myriad of diseases. Every day new things are being discovered about the amazing molecule that is DNA and things that were once science fiction daydreams are now turning into a very possible future.

As with every year, I have hosted a DNA Day art contest. The winner this year is Darwin with Jarren and EG:

Thanks a lot, Darwin! You made my day.

This year I only got two participants. The other is JillyFoo with a humerous piece as always:
And since no one else was joining the contest, I did my own picture here:
If you're interested in more DNA art submitted in past years, see the Two Moons page.

Speaking of DNA and art, there is a gallery of interior design on exhibit NOW in Osaka where they take DNA from cheek swabs and turn the results into very personalized art. The website for the exhibit can be found here! It's modern art that's made to be appealing for interior design, that is understandable on a scientific level, and that also has personal value. Perfect! If you're so intrigued you can get your own DNA made into art.

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.
Less than 2% of the genome codes for proteins.
We eat about 93,000 miles of DNA in an average meal.

DNA news for this year:
One of the biggest bits of news is getting rid of the patent system on genes! Companies can now no longer own parts of the genome, it's free for anyone to experiment with, research, and develop things for.

As for this years advances in DNA, I found some amazing articles to share. Feel free to read further on anything that piques your interest by following the links:
Gene Therapy Re-programming genetics has, is, and will lead to recoveries from various conditions. Even helping animals see color! This article takes an unbiased stance, sharing the good and bad sides of gene therapy.
King Tut's DNA DNA was extracted from Egyptian royal mummies and analyzed. Here are some of the results!
Our DNA is part virus This article explains how many genomes are permeated with the DNA of viruses.
And finally: Genographic The awesome project that is recreating ancient history by taking DNA samples from volunteers. My late grandfather donated his DNA to this project. This is an amazing project and I encourage anyone interested in history, anthropology, or DNA to take a look at some of the videos presented on this website.

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)

DNA is also the theme of the song "That Spells DNA" by Johnathan Coulton.

Finally, my favorite quote:
"You know that somewhere there are squiggles in black ink that represent the notes to Beethovens Ninth Symphony but in no way does that diminish the grandeur of the symphony itself. And I don't think that the genome initiative diminishes the dignity of humankind. In fact, it may increase our appreciation for the Creator of all life. After all, Beethoven had 12 notes to work with, but the Creator had only four."
-Thomas Murray

Well have a happy DNA Day, you guys!

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