Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thoughts About DNA

There are some beautiful things in nature and for some reason, while I was sleeping, the history/structure of DNA was coming to mind. Why? I haven't the vaguest idea. My brain operates in strange ways. But, there is no doubt that the DNA helix is beautiful and rather amazing - life written in natural dancing patterns of precision.

The structure of DNA follows Chargaff's Rule - A = T and G = C.
Erwin Chargoff discovered that the amount of Thymine was almost
equal to the amount of Adenine and the amount of Guanine was
almost equal to the amount of Cytosine in the 1940's. 

It was up to two different research pairs - Franklin and Wilkins and Watson and Crick to discover the helix ladder that we're all familiar with today. This discover dates to 1953, a little over 60 years ago. The Nobel Prize was split between Wilkins, Watson and Crick, Rosalind Franklin having died prior to the award announcement.

Gary Sims, a DNA expert, testifies here at the OJ Simpson trial. This trial
was the first national experience with the use of DNA evidence in a high-profile
trial. The evidence collection and trail was called into question and
resulted in acquittal. I'm not so sure he would be acquitted today. 

Now think on our daily life. How prevalent is DNA knowledge today? It's become a backbone of crime cases, courtroom drama, and cultural entertainment on television and in movies. When I think back on the history of modern DNA, I remember the OJ Simpson trial where DNA was first entered into evidence to a broad audience. The trial was heavily followed throughout the nation, and the DNA explanations were convoluted and really "dumbed down" for the jury. I found it fascinating. The crime investigators, however, really messed up the evidence investigation and collection, leading to a verdict of "Innocent". It remained for others to more firmly establish DNA profiling and proper collection of evidence as useful in trial convictions. The OJ Simpson trial was held in 1994. Can you imagine a serious trial or criminal case moving forward now without the use of DNA evidence if indicated?

Even Sherlock Holmes, decades before DNA was known, would have
done a better job than these investigators did. 

Much of the discovery and use of DNA as a basis for criminal discovery and prosecution has occurred within my lifetime. I think that's pretty cool. I'm off to the gym to play on the machines today. Want my DNA? Grab my sweaty headband after my workout - easy! Happy Tuesday!

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