NOTES TO THE TEACHER
Why is our fascination so immense about something so trivially small? You can give a powerful answer to your students via this explanation by Matt Ridley in Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. As Ridley explains of the vast information that is contained within the nucleus of each cell that contains a Genome (a complete pair of the 23 chromosomes) (Give your students a quick quiz: Which cells have no chromosomes? Which have exactly half?),
[ The human body contains approximately 100 trillion (million million) cells.... Imagine that the genome is a book.
There are twenty-three chapters, called CHROMOSOMES.
Each chapter contains several thousand stories, called GENES.
Each story is make up of paragraphs, called EXONS, which are interrupted by advertisements called INTRONS.
Each paragraph is make up of words, called condons.
Each word is written in letters called bases.
There are one billion words in the book, which makes it longer than 5,000 volumes the size of this one (314 pages), or as long as 800 Bibles. If I read the genome out to you at the rate of one word per second for eight hours a day, it would take me a century. If I wrote out the human genome, one letter per millimetre, my text would be as long as the River Danube. ] (Genome, p6.)
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