With this bike, I successfully obtained Hipster level 9000 (I subtracted 1000 points due to my lack of square black-framed glasses - with them I would obtain the status of Ultimate Hipster. Too bad). I've been riding this beautiful thing around everywhere since I got it on Thursday, as you can probably see from the many bruises now adorning my legs (I bruise extraordinarily easily and am also pretty clumsy - not the best combination for bike riding, but I don't care!)
On the weekend, I rode to some fantastic second-hand markets where I also picked up this coat:
Which was a highly inappropriate purchase considering that it was a sweltering 30 degrees, and Sydney summers never require coats, but I couldn't help myself with its sailor-esque collar and cute white buttons.
Now, let's talk genetics!
Genetics and the basics of biochemistry take a long time to wrap your head around. Much of my love of science comes from actually understanding how things work. When you read science stories, you might be like, "yay! researchers discovered the gene for disease x!" and "scientists found that too much protein y makes you develop disease z!", and while that's awesome, without a background in molecular biology, you may also be like "...okay, but what does that actually mean?"
What the heck even are cells, DNA, genes, chromosomes and proteins?
So what I'm going to do in the next few posts is attempt to explain what these terms mean. I'm assuming no prior knowledge of anything biology-related. Today I'm going to explain cells, chromosomes and DNA. Let's go!
Your body is actually composed of units called "cells". Cells are little water-filled sacks that contain useful things needed to sustain life, including DNA. Take a look at your skin. If you could zoom right in on a single cell, using microscopic eyes, you would see something like this:
This cell actually looks like it's not very healthy, as it's been burst open on the left side and all of its contents are spilling out. Also, top-layer skin cells are usually actually dead cells without any DNA in them - skin needs to be tough, so this layer of cells often sacrifice themselves to become a tough outer-layer - but let's ignore that fact for the moment. Imagine that we're looking at skins cells a few layers of skin deep.
However, in each of your cells - except for your red blood cells - you have 2 metres of a thing called DNA that is wound up really, really tightly. Remember how teeny tiny I just said cells were? So your DNA is wound up REALLY tightly to fit 2 metres of the stuff within every cell.
When DNA is all wound up like this, it's given the name "chromosome". A chromosome is really just a long strand of DNA, that's been wound around on itself a bunch of times. You have 46 chromosomes in each of your cells - 23 of these come from your mother, and 23 from your father. Each time a cell splits into two (which is how your body grows and fixes itself), it copies each of these chromosomes, and gives equally half to each cell it divides into.
DNA has written on it all the biological instructions needed to make you. These biological instructions come in the form of different molecules (molecules are things which are made up from a few conjoined atoms - and we'll get into that later) called "bases". Bases are what DNA is made out of.
In DNA, there are four such bases, and we give each a different letter: A, T, G and C.
Did you know that you can even extract DNA from cells and have a look at it - using household items? I wrote instructions on exactly how to do so a few months ago! Though remember - unless you have microscopic eyes, you're not going to be able to actually see those bases. To even begin to be able to do that, you'd first need an electron scanning microscope. To wrap your head around the teeny size of cells, and the size of something as small as DNA (even though you've got 2 metres of it in each cell, it's very, VERY thin!) check out this website: The Scale of the Universe.
In my next post on biochemistry, I will attempt to explain genes and proteins.
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