Bioinformatics: The tapestry of Biology, Computer Science, and Math

How can genetic researchers store the genetic code of various organisms more efficiently, while defending their budgets? How can we, more importantly, interpret genetic data more pragmatically and more accurately, very possibly fully cracking the secrets of nature and it’s genes? Enter stage-right, Bioinformatics.

Genetics is the breath of life behind all living creatures, but the challenges of sequencing a huge collection of data are numerous. It could be matter-of-factly stated that the sequence of one human’s genetic material takes roughly 200 gigabytes of data. To those whom don’t understand the magnitude, that’s roughly 100 DVD’s with entire movies on them. That is a lot of material to analyze, especially considering exactly what kind of data we are sequencing: the various arrangements of our nucleotides.

A nucleotide can be thought of as the building block of the gene, in the same way you could think of the letters of the alphabet being the building blocks of words, only in the case of nucleotides there are only four “letters” in lieu of the 26 alphabet. Humans have tens of thousands of genes, most of which aren’t fully understand, not to mention so-called “junk DNA” of which function we are ambiguous about. We have 3 billion nucleotides in our DNA makeup, that is a lot of letters.

Some of the most important questions in our study of life have a camp in this field, and it’s no secret that the titans of throwing their coins on the table. The secrets behind the genetics program that makes your skin overproduce oil and lax exfoliation, causing acne ( we’ve all been there!) the secrets behind the information of our T-cells and it’s susceptibility to the HIV virus; the genetics that spur on cancer.. the list rolls on and on. Some say that this is the field of this generation, and I am very much inclined to agree with them, not only because it’s my field of study, but also because it’s possible crops will be bountiful for mankind.

Who knows? In the same way my parents wouldn’t dare let their mind dream of an iphone or email or the internet, we aren’t dare let ourselves dream of our future?


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