02 January 2008

DNA as seen by computer programmers

DNA seen through the eyes of a coder, by Bert Hubert:

DNA is not like C source but more like byte-compiled code for a virtual machine called 'the nucleus'. It is very doubtful that there is a source to this byte compilation - what you see is all you get.

[The first C compiler was not written in C, obviously] but in a language that was available already: B. ... The same holds for the genome. To create a new 'binary' of a specimen, a living copy is required. The genome needs an elaborate toolchain in order to deliver a living thing. The code itself is impotent. This toolchain is commonly called 'your parents'.

You can see where some of his analogies are straining, but the article as a whole is still very enlightening.

Like the author, I'd also like to heartily recommend Matt Ridley's Genome and Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene.

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