EppsNet Archive: Genetics

I Slept Late But There’s a Reason for It

13 Jul 2014 /
Banksy's caveman

Think about our distant ancestors . . . energy in the form of food was scarce and hard to obtain. Those who survived had a genetic predisposition to not use energy wastefully but rather to store it up for times when it was really needed. This gave them an evolutionary advantage.

And that’s why I slept in and didn’t go to the gym this morning . . .


“Keep it Simple,” Nobel Prize Winner Advises

22 Jan 2012 /
English: Nobel laureate Dr. James D. Watson, C...

Image via Wikipedia

I soon was taught that [Linus] Pauling’s accomplishment was a product of common sense, not the result of complicated mathematical reasoning. Equations occasionally crept into his argument, but in most cases words would have sufficed. The key to Linus’ success was his reliance on the simple laws of structural chemistry. The \alpha-helix had not been found by only staring at X-ray pictures; the essential trick, instead, was to ask which atoms like to sit next to each other. In place of pencil and paper, the main working tools were a set of molecular models superficially resembling the toys of preschool children.

We could thus see no reason why we should not solve DNA in the same way. All we had to do was to construct a set of molecular models and begin to play — with luck, the structure would be a helix. Any other type of configuration would be much more complicated. Worrying about complications before ruling out the possibility that the answer was simple would have been damned foolishness. Pauling never got anywhere by seeking out messes.


Comparing Hands

5 Aug 2010 /
Looking up

My son comes home from playing basketball, holds his hand up in front of me and says, “Let me see your fingers.”

I don’t know what he’s up to here but I put my palm against his palm and we compare fingers. They’re about the same. Mine are maybe a little longer.

“HA!” he says. “It’s your fault I can’t dunk! Bad genetics! I can get over the rim but the ball comes out of my hand because I can’t palm it.”

“Hmmm,” I say. “I could palm a basketball easily when I was your age so your theory doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.”

“Could you dunk?” he asks.

“I’m still working on that. I hate to admit it but I don’t think it’s going to happen for me.”