Thursday, 24 April 2008

DNA as software: DNA is binary just like the base language in computers

Ok, heres's another thing that amazed me when I found it out. I probably learnt it years agon cos I just checked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA and found it called complementary base pairing which rings a bell to me. Going back over it I see that it's effectively a binary code. Just like the code that runs in computers.

What's the point then. Well it's just this. How fascinating that the very code that runs computers bascially defines 1's and 0's and so does the very code that runs all species that we know of. That just seems amazing.

Taking it further, the code that a programmer writes has a similar impact on the program its written for as DNA does for its host cell. Object oriented code for example works in a simiilar way to how proteins are made in a cell.

As a programmer I like writing object oriented code. That's code that describes objects so if I wrote a program for a human I would write a class for a cell. I'd describe how the cell functions and what things it can do etc. then I'd describe lots of different kinds of cells. they'd have the same fundamental attributes of the basic cell class but they'd be a little different. A blood cell wouldn't have a nucleus (no dna), a young cell would be able to grow and change easily (say an osteoblast) an older cell wouldn't (an osteoclast). So the act of writing software teaches me a

So how does dna work. Well it codes for proteins. Proteins make enzymes. Proteins are buidling blocks like the keratin in your nails and hair, they build cell walls. Enzymes are workers. The lactase in your stomach that breaks down the milk sugar lactose. Some people don't have this enzyme, their dna doesn't describe how to make it so they're lactose intolerant and can't have dairy products.

how fascinating that the code for our bodies can be talked about in similar terms as the code I use to write computer programs. Who'd have thought it!

Of course I'm not the only one to have this idea. epigenetics is now considering DNA as a script not a template
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