History of DNA
Have you ever asked yourself “why my eyes are this color?“ Have you questioned why you look the way you do? All of your physical features come from our genetics. Those genetics are family traits that are passed down through our individual bloodline. All of these individualities come from what is considered the fundamental building blocks of life, DNA.
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid is the scientific name for DNA (SITE). A Swiss medical student named Johann Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1868 (SITE). Miescher was investigating the white blood cells of pus from a surgical wound. It was there in these white blood cells that he found the “hot to manual” that defines what we look like. It is important to note, DNA is in every living creature. The discovery of DNA is not new to science, but what do you really know about it.
Even though Miescher discovered DNA in 1868, it would take another 80 years before DNA would be considered actual genetic material. The medical and scientific communities of Miescher’s era felt that DNA was too simple for consideration as genetic material. It was not until the 20th century when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix through x-rays, that DNA would be recognized.
Watson and Crick looked deeper into the DNA configuration and learned that the structure of DNA is actually is a coiled double helix on a 34 degree pitch (Hallick, 1995). This double helix structure is made from alternating sugar and phosphate bonds. Holding these sugar and phosphate bonds together is hydrogen. The four bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, attach to the sugar/phosphate bonds forming a complete nucleotide (Simon & Dickey, 2012). The neucleotoid repeats itself creating a long complex polymer. These polymers are so long and complex, it has been recorded that a human’s chromosome number one is 85 nanometers long and contains 220 million base pairs ("Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)," 2012).
Long before developing green eyes, or standing six feet tall, a codex has already been written that determines all the specific details on how we look. Individual DNA is created at the moment of conception and never changes throughout our lives. During conception a chemical known as nucleic acid is created and duplicates and divides itself an infinite number of times. Even through repetitive replication and division, the DNA is always an exact copy of the first DNA strand.
Conception also joins the father’s sperm with the mother’s egg creating a genetic sequence (23 chromosomes from your father and 23 from your mother) of the 46 chromosomes. It is these 46 chromosomes that make up the complete instructional guide for who we are. Half of the chromosomes come from each parent, allowing for all the variations in our offspring.
Scientists have said the human genome is comprised of “approximately three billion DNA molecules” (Simon & Dickey, 2012). In general, we are made up of about 30,000...