DNA & Genetics


“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, ii, 335

DNA StrandsI am what some of my friends affectionately call “vertically challenged.” The sun visor in my car is often useless to me and, depending on the chair, my feet don’t always lie flat on the floor. Several of my coworkers at RTB share these trials with me—but though we are short, we hope to help make a big difference in the lives of people RTB reaches.

Likewise, though there is a possible 98–99% genetic similarity between humans and chimps, it’s the little variations that seem to make big differences. As researchers dig deeper into genetic comparisons, a more complex picture emerges. (more…)

pixar_brave_2012-wideWe’re big movie fans in our house and we love to see how our favorites were made. While exploring the “behind-the-scenes” featurettes on our copy of DisneyPixar’s Brave I stumbled across a little gem called “Wonder Moss.” In it, sets forest development artist Iñigo Quilez explains the complex mathematics used to create the film’s beautiful Scottish setting:

Most people think of mathematics as something boring and mechanical—but that’s not the way we see mathematics at Pixar. For us, maths are a tool to create images, movement, richness, and fun, actually. (more…)

Excellent!Perhaps you remember this scene from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:

Bill: The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

Ted: Yes, Bill. But I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.

Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.

Ted: Well how can we have decent instruments if we don’t really even know how to play?

Bill: That is why we need Eddie Van Halen.

Ted: And that is why we need a triumphant video.

Both: Excellent! *air guitar*

At first look, this scene might not seem relevant to a discussion on the origin of life. But when you’re trying to explain mutually interdependent systems to a 16-year-old, you take what you can get. (more…)

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris

iStock_000015882593XSmallThe blogosphere is replete with advice for taming clutter and getting organized—helpful reading for any upcoming spring cleaning. While I’m not exactly a Martha Stewart of organization, I do have my husband’s junk-filled man cave/household office slated for a good purging. Unless they have a useful purpose (or sentimental value), all those unread textbooks, random cables, and various odds-and-ends have to go. Without function or beauty, the objects in an office (or any room) end up as clutter.

Until recently, scientists believed the human genome is full of genetic clutter—DNA fragments that may have possessed function in the past but possess it no longer. (more…)

Young woman praying sincerely with her hands folded and eyes cloThe start of a new year provides opportunities to remember, but most of all it’s a time to look forward. What do we feel when we face the horizon of the future—hope or dread?

Though the future can be a scary prospect, Scripture is filled with reminders to “be not afraid.” (more…)

I’m convinced our neighborhood garbage men have “nap detectors” on board their trucks. They show up when, and only when, my daughter is napping. I cringe every time I hear the truck rattling around our apartment complex, and pray the little one will sleep through the commotion below her window. (more…)

Why people are compelled to couple a hopeful word like “Spring” with a laborious task like “cleaning” I’ll never know. But alas, it’s time once again to hear that oxymoronic phrase and perhaps even (gulp) consider partaking in the dreadful suggestion.

Recently I’ve heard RNA biochemist Patricia Fanning talk about a different kind of spring cleaning. (more…)

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