Humans Don't Exist

Here it is, all that fuss and fury:

Turns out we have the genome of a bitsy little fly and we have 30,000 genes, so modest a number that we have to “look elsewhere (the article says) for the mechanisms that generate the complexities inherent in human development…”

And: “All the glorious differences among individuals in our species that can be attributed to genes falls in a mere 0.1% of the sequence.”

Can this possibly be right or is this another plot to confuse the public, take all of our tax money, and make Rockville MD the center of the universe? :slight_smile:


I don’t know why people would think that a fly should have fewer genes than a human. A fly is just as complex as a person. Our bodies are not more complex than animal bodies. Sure, our brains are larger, but other animals have relatively larger organs too. Why should it take more genes to form the human brain than it takes to form a fly’s wing?

Ego-centrism. One of the worse things afflicting biology – we just can’t admit we’re not **that[/] different…

Both Nature and Science will be devoting their entire weekly issue to the publication of the sequence. Both are also making the on-line versions of their sequence issues freely available for a while at least. Looks like a good two years of reading.

Nature is including a copy of the original Crick and Watson double helix paper.

Already the comments are being made that the research is just beginning; how will it be financed; can private sectors afford to take a run finding genetic treatments or bankrupt themselves trying?

Have there been any successful gene therapies so far?


That site contains a very technical paper, which I confess I did not understand very well.

But here’s a thought: We share 98% of a chimpanzee’e genetic makeup. Yet we are very different from chimpanzees, and that difference is one of kind, not degree.

If I put 30,000 dots on a sheet of paper, I’ll have 30,000 dots. But if I place those dots in a pattern, I’ll have a picture of a face, or a tree, or a giraffe. So how these genes are put together has a profound influence.

And, yes, genes won’t give us the whole story of human development. The brain and various glands secrete a variety of chemicals and hormones that have a great deal to do with our development. There’s still a lot to learn in this area.

So maybe a fly has as many genes as we do. A 1967 Pinto probably has more parts than a 2001 Ferrari.

Quantity is not enough. To make a human, you need quality as well.

Strike that. It’s chavaunistic.

You need a more complex pattern.

Clairmont, this news was the front-page story in yesterdays’s Washington Post; you can read the article here if you want something more directed towards the layman.

It isn’t just that we carry the same number of genes as these other creatures, and we are not really qualitatively “more complex.” The information in our DNA strands that makes us human, as opposed to something else, takes up only about an inch of the total length.

Yow! Those DNA strands must be some big-ass friggin’ molecules! :slight_smile:

Hi Clarimont!

Try this one, too:

Hopefully that will take you to a mostly green-ish page with several options. They are trying to make a second magazine with less jargon for civilians. (See the notice on the left side of the page.)

I think what you said above is correct and everything will just be more complicated than anyone ever thought. RNA be more than a messenger (mRNA) but work in other ways to also produce additional instructions.

Already there are lessons on the internet for high school students using techniques that just a little while ago would have been a presentation by a Phd. candidate. Proceedures once done with pipette and little tiny plastic bottles are now done in machines.

I’m also waiting to see what Crick and/or Watson has to say now!

I think I have a clearer understanding of what the uproar is all about. There was a small blurb in our local paper about this, but it was not very informative.

I think it’s a bit ironic that these investigations have raised many more questions than they answered.

In fact, I remember that some time ago, many investigators thought that the Human Genome Project was the Holy Grail, much like the Grand Unified Theory is for physicists.

I wonder if the phyxicists will also get a taste of humility, if when they find that theory.

It, too, may raise all kinds of questions.

Instead of the end of physics, it may be a new beginning.

This is an exciting time for science.

Jois said

Yes, there has been at least one very promising study, for adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency (think “the boy in the bubble”.) I have also read encouraging things about gene therapy for familial hypercholestemia.

Good to see you back, Jois. Your presence has been missed around here.

Hi Bibliophage!

Thanks, nice to see who is around and what’s cooking!

I’ve always found it interesting that those who are crowing about what a godsend mapping our genome is (granted, it IS a big deal) forget that genes don’t develop on their own in a vacuum. They develop IN organisms which are living IN an environment, each of which has a great deal of impact on the genes themselves. Mapping the genome is definitely going to help, but it’s sure as hell not the panacea the geneticists are making it out to be.

Can you imagine what these means for geneticists?

Wabbit: I don’t think any geneticists are saying that the HGP is a panacea, every one that I’ve heard interviewed has said that it is simply the first step into a whole new world of genetic research. This isn’t the end of genetics, any more than the Lewis and Clark expedition was the end of exploration of America.

The thing is, at the present time we are fundementally ignorant about genes, we really know almost nothing. We’re just beginning to figure out HOW MANY GENES WE HAVE, let alone what those genes do and what proteins they produce, let alone what those proteins do, let alone how those proteins work together, let alone how genese are regulated.

The thing is, we know which genes produce which amino acids, which are the fundamental building blocks of proteins. So, Lemur, half of your statement was false.

You know, when you study this stuff, it is kinda wierd thinking of your entire body just being a clump of proteins and water, chemically no different than a jar of jelly, as the extropians like to say.