Saturday, August 19, 2006

DNA and Assembly Language

Many people think it's amazing or surprising that the DNA between any two people is 99.9% the same. In fact, 50% of a human DNA is the same as a banana's. I think this totally makes sense, and I was surprised that we're even that different from a banana. All living organisms are composed of cells. And cells are composed of the same basic elements (there is some variety but it's basically the same). And the elements in cells are composed of the same organic molecules. Much of the machinery at each of these levels is basically the same across all organisms. For example, cell replicating, cell membranes, etc generally work the same for everyone. So that's what we have in common with an algae.

I think this is a little like comparing the differences between Microsoft Office and vi and expecting the pattern in their assembly language instructions to be very different. Office is a lot bigger and more complicated than vi. But at the end of the day, all programs have the same general structure in machine instructions. Data is loaded and stored, values in the registers change, basic logic and arithmetic operations are performed, and the program counter is manipulated in different ways to simulate function calls, recursion, or exception handling. This pattern is the same for all programs. At the end of the day, the same CPU can execute all programs. And the CPU only understands opcodes and operands. So it's not surprising that the patterns must be the same.

Based on the analogy, it's the same for living organisms. The actual organism is analogous to the software. The DNA is analogous to the assembly language instructions. Protein is analogous to transistors. And the biochemistry between the organic molecules is analogous to the physics that control the components of a CPU. Complexities in one abstraction layer are isolated from the other layers.

Instead of comparing to software, another analogy is that the brick laying patterns for a small house and a castle are basically the same. But I like the other analogy more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So.. Software is a living being!! And programmers are life-creating gods.. gg. Nice post, greetings from Lisbon

9:43 AM  
Blogger pooya said...

Good point. I never have thought about it this way. Once I was thinking if it will be possible to compose a dna that for example creates a living Piano! I was wondering if it is possible to really describe everything about the shape and the mechansim of that in a DNA!

10:16 PM  
Blogger Vasile said...

Please consider another worldview, one in which you are so much more than an ecuation of time, randomness and chance:

"It is not enough to explain how DNA might have gathered into strands by random chance; evolutionists must also explain the machinery to interpret DNA. In other words, it’s not enough to explain how random letters could eventually fall into the order S-E-E-T-H-E-D-O-G-R-U-N. These letters still don’t mean anything unless you have a pre-existing language system for interpreting those letters! ‘See the dog run’ has meaning, but only to a modern English-speaker."

"He explains, for instance, that cells must have an incredibly sophisticated editing process to ensure that each gene is reproduced error-free. ‘If life did not have that editing process right at the very start, then it would just mutate right out of existence,"

12:05 AM  
Blogger Jim Bumgarner said...

Check out the function of a molecule called DNA Polymerase. It reads the sequence of bases while creating identical strands when cells divide; and it corrects most errors. Let it not be forgotten that the difference betweena banana and human being, or algae for that matter, is little more than the different sequences of four little bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine) in the DNA molecule. These sequences determine the sequences of the amino acids in the proteins and it's the proteins that make the visible differences.

10:38 AM  
Blogger whoiam said...

Is it not a wonderful creation God has made for us,that we are now only beginning to discover a small part of his well designed order.NPUBLICI

3:23 PM  
Blogger Horsey said...

Imagine then the loss we felt when we learned that unique micro-organisms with a sulphur based metabolism, which evolved in undersea volcanic vents, and which had DNA that diverged from ours the same time Eukaryotes evolved, went extinct due to the accidental introduction, by explorers, of anaerobic bacteria into their previously isolated environment.

Just kidding. Didn't happen. But it would suck if it did.

Richard Dawkins' "Ancestor's Tale" kicks ass btw.

8:53 PM  
Blogger PK said...

No no, I'd say that the DNA Sequence is the software (the 'code') and the organism is the hardware. Proteins are like hardware that executes the code, but also like software since their amino acid sequences are determined by DNA sequences, at least the fraction of those sequences that are contained in coding regions of genes. So I'm not sure how they fit in.

Still if you think of it this way, you can see that a virus is exactly the same in either arena: a bit of software that exploits existing hardware to propagate itself.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes are like gods!

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting post, i liked it a lot...

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you very much i m going to talk about this in my blog also

11:41 AM  

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