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There’s a weasel in that thar double helix


It’s DNA day! I got a mailing from 23andme earlier:

Today we celebrate the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

They just say ‘we celebrate’ — not that it’s an actual anniversary or anything. And, since they sell DNA testing, I’m’a assume it’s one of those made up holidays, like National Stinky Cheese Day or Mother’s Day. In which case, they missed a trick by not picking the 23rd of some month.

Anyhoo, there were several interesting DNA-related articles accompanying the mailer, like this one: now that they have a grasp of some of the markers that indicate a susceptibility to disease, one new avenue of research is to look at people who have a vulnerability to certain conditions but never developed the condition.

Or not yet, anyway. It’s leading to some novel ways to look at health problems, and I’m all for novel ways of looking at things.

The project leader gave a TED talk about it — never a good sign — but it still sounds promising. Link to the project itself here.

And don’t forget to hug your genome today.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: April 25, 2016, 9:45 pm

“Oh, Billy, Billy Billy! Son, I don’t care if it is DNA Discovery Day – you simply must stop that or you’ll go blind!”

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: April 25, 2016, 10:43 pm

When I think of dna, I think of the movie The Race for the Double Helix, where Jim Watson was portrayed as not in search for the bldg blocks of life but for English girls with big bazooms:


Comment from Tom
Time: April 26, 2016, 8:12 am

And The Race for the Double Helix is in season 23 of Horizon. Ha! Serendipity FTW!

Comment from Anonymous
Time: April 26, 2016, 8:46 am

That’s an interesting approach (looking at people who should get an illness but don’t).

It reminds me of a story from WW II. Bomber Command looked at returning aircraft, and noted where the bullet holes were. They armored those areas, because those areas were apparently getting hit the most. Yet losses did not improve.

Then a clever boy suggested armoring the areas that were undamaged. His thought was that all parts of the planes were getting hit. No damage was seen in some areas because planes hit in those areas didn’t come back. The damage that was seen the most was the least dangerous. This suggestion worked.

The analogy is not close, but there is a similar point: the relationship between attack, exposure, defense, and effect can be counter-intuitive.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: April 26, 2016, 1:01 pm

Yes, yes, yes, to “the relationship between attack, exposure, defense, and effect can be counter-intuitive”!

Oh, and, my favorite made-up holiday is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
Um. Did I learn about that here, last August, maybe?

Comment from nightfly
Time: April 26, 2016, 3:18 pm

So, is that picture from the new Marvel movie, Weasel-Guy?

Every few generations, evolution leaps forward. This… is not one of those generations.

WEASEL GUY. May 2018

Comment from mojo
Time: April 26, 2016, 3:19 pm

I dunno about “discovering” DNA, as it had been in use for some time. “Described the structure of”, maybe.

It’s like Columbus, you know?

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: April 26, 2016, 4:01 pm

This is the article Anonymous mentioned.
Survivorship Bias
Math Saves Lives: Don’t Forget to Carry the One!

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