Blog Entry

Hurry up science

Posted on: February 16, 2010 12:27 pm
 
In time Science will likely reveal that...

...but nobody hold their breath.

For example, the last greatest thing was the Human Genome Project. Government and private labs all over were determining the sequence of the nitrogenous bases in bits and pieces of human DNA. Then they compared the sequence of their piece of DNA with sequences of others' pieces, found overlaps and, thereby, merged the sequences so as to learn bigger and bigger stretches. That process required the formation of The Internet. By now, they know the entire sequence of all the DNA in humans.

This was tauted to launch a New Medicine that could "cure" human pathologies by the thousands.

OK, but most of human DNA is "non-sense", or not-genes. So they had to find the "good stuff", the genes, which indirectly produce our traits by providing information for cells to make proteins. The proteins actually "do" our lives. But many genes are scattered here and there among all the DNA. So it's kind of like cutting a needle into hundreds of pieces, and throwing the pieces into a gigantic haystack. Then you have to find all the pieces in the haystack and reassemble the needle.

Even when a gene is determined, mostly they don't know what the protein it codes for does in the cells. Working this out is much more difficult than sequencing the gene in the first place. Way beyond that, is the problem that most proteins work together with many other proteins to produce their effects, like team sports. So knowing what a certain protein does in isolation is often not very useful. To complicate these little difficulties, genes get switched on and off in an individual depending on the person's developmental stage, and also on signals from the internal and external environment. So the proteins take turns doing their work kind of like line shifts in a hockey game.

So what we've ended up with is like a book written in an unknown language, and the letters of the book have been scrambled just for fun. Basically all we know is that the title of the book is: How to Produce a Human, Live its Life, Get Sick (and maybe recover), Make Kids, Get Old and Die.

Meanwhile, the economy has been souring like an old box of wine in a corner of a self-storage shed, so far less money is available to pursue the almost impossible research, and people are texting each other on Blackberries, or playing games on PlayStation instead of learning stuff at school.

Me, I take vitamin C for some unknown reason, and it seems not to hurt me too much (so far).
Category: General
Comments

Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: February 17, 2010 12:12 pm
 

Hurry up science

Unfortunately you can't hurry progress.

Total agreement. Originally the genome project was tauted to explode new medical therapies and boost pharmaceuticals of the scale. Well, the genome has been deciphered, but the results are going to have to wait until the protein studies are done. The genome scientists way, way overstated their case, and the media fell for it hook line and sinker. I'm not saying that the genome project wasn't important, just that the more important protein research was undervalued and under funded.



Since: May 29, 2007
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:43 am
 

Hurry up science

Ahh the instant gratification age.

Unfortunately you can't hurry progress.  Discoveries take time.  If you look at discoveries over time the rate at which we are finding new information seems to be exponentially increasing.
Texting on a blackberry or checking this blog on a blackberry is a direct result of the quantum theory being further researched and applied (technology).

When you demand a certain outcome from research you are often dissappointed.  
It is commonly taught in science class that many discoveries are made by accident.  That is true, but the "accident" happened because you were doing research.  You are looking at better understanding the unknown.  In the process of discovering the unknown you find stuff you didn't expect.  If you expected it, it wouldn't be unknown. 

I am not sure what you want to come from the genome work.  They are identifying new "problem" genes that they can test for and tell you if you are more suceptible to...



Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:31 am
 

Hurry up science

Why do i care about genes? 

Probably because your parents provided you with such inferior ones. Don't blame them. It was simply the product of meiosis, nothing deliberate I'm sure.



Since: Nov 11, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:23 am
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Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:12 am
 

Hurry up science

But many genes are scattered here and there among all the DNA. So it's kind of like cutting a needle into hundreds of pieces, and throwing the pieces into a gigantic haystack. Then you have to find all the pieces in the haystack and reassemble the needle.

Poorly written. Sorry. In many cases, the pieces of an individual gene are scattered like a cut up needle in a haystack. The gene doesn't even exist until it is assembled from its pieces. This makes things especially tough to figure out.

My overall point is not that science is futile, but that, considering the resources humans apply toward basic research and the complexities involved, progress is likely not to be made on the nanosecond time scale. Society has a very short patience fuse (growing shorter every day) and very high expectations.



Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2010 9:56 pm
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Since: Nov 11, 2009
Posted on: February 16, 2010 7:06 pm
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