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DNA Double Helix

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Uploaded on Oct 1, 2009

DNA Double Helix - A powerful video clip from our friends at http://www.IllustraMedia.com - Unlocking the Mystery of Life.

The DNA Double Helix is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. First described by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, DNA is the famous molecule of genetics that establishes each organism's physical characteristics. It wasn't until mid-2001, that the Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics jointly presented the true nature and complexity of the digital code inherent in DNA. We now understand that each human DNA molecule is comprised of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences. Even the DNA molecule for the single-celled bacterium, E. coli, contains enough information to fill all the books in any of the world's largest libraries.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a double-stranded molecule that is twisted into a helix like a spiral staircase. Each strand is comprised of a sugar-phosphate backbone and numerous base chemicals attached in pairs. The four bases that make up the stairs in the spiraling staircase are adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). These stairs act as the "letters" in the genetic alphabet, combining into complex sequences to form the words, sentences and paragraphs that act as instructions to guide the formation and functioning of the host cell. Maybe even more appropriately, the A, T, C and G in the genetic code of the DNA molecule can be compared to the "0" and "1" in the binary code of computer software. Like software to a computer, the DNA code is a genetic language that communicates information to the organic cell.

The DNA code, like a floppy disk of binary code, is quite simple in its basic paired structure. However, it's the sequencing and functioning of that code that's enormously complex. Through recent technologies like x-ray crystallography, we now know that the cell is not a "blob of protoplasm", but rather a microscopic marvel that is more complex than the space shuttle. The cell is very complicated, using vast numbers of phenomenally precise DNA instructions to control its every function.

Although DNA code is remarkably complex, it's the information translation system connected to that code that really baffles science. Like any language, letters and words mean nothing outside the language convention used to give those letters and words meaning. This is modern information theory at its core. A simple binary example of information theory is the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." In that famous story, Mr. Revere asks a friend to put one light in the window of the North Church if the British came by land, and two lights if they came by sea. Without a shared language convention between Paul Revere and his friend, that simple communication effort would mean nothing. Well, take that simple example and multiply by a factor containing many zeros.

We now know that the DNA molecule is an intricate message system. To claim that DNA arose by random material forces is to say that information can arise by random material forces. Many scientists argue that the chemical building blocks of the DNA molecule can be explained by natural evolutionary processes. However, they must realize that the material base of a message is completely independent of the information transmitted. Thus, the chemical building blocks have nothing to do with the origin of the complex message. As a simple illustration, the information content of the clause "nature was designed" has nothing to do with the writing material used, whether ink, paint, chalk or crayon. In fact, the clause can be written in binary code, Morse code or smoke signals, but the message remains the same, independent of the medium. There is obviously no relationship between the information and the material base used to transmit it. Some current theories argue that self-organizing properties within the base chemicals themselves created the information in the first DNA molecule. Others argue that external self-organizing forces created the first DNA molecule. However, all of these theories must hold to the illogical conclusion that the material used to transmit the information also produced the information itself. Contrary to the current theories of evolutionary scientists, the information contained within the genetic code must be entirely independent of the chemical makeup of the DNA molecule.

For more on the DNA Double Helix, please visit http://www.allaboutscience.org/dna-do...

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