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THe violinist thumb

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Michael O'Reilly

on 2 May 2016

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Transcript of THe violinist thumb

Section One
Moving along to
Chapter Two
, the
Mendelists
and
Darwinists
fought over the ideas of life. Meanwhile Morgan and Bridges were experimenting on fruit flies and genetics. They were able to see both sides and weave them together to for an overall idea. Mendelists battled that Darwin's idea of evolution did not make sense. They argued that the mechanism for natural selection had to occur by jumps. Another reason was that people just hated the idea that the stronger would crush the weak. Scientists have discovered that mutations occur, Chromosomes come in pair, and chromosomes are inherited equally by a mother and father, yet they never knew how these ideas came together. Moran was in his room at Columbia University where he established his fruit fly studies, and how mutations and genetics are involved in evolution. During the investigation, his partner, Bridges, discovered
non-disjunction
: a failure in the process of crossing over of chromosomes, which was just one out of many.
In Chapter Three,
the DNA duplication process is explained, how DNA is transcribed into RNA, and the translation to make proteins. After the dropping of the two atomic bombs in WWII, through those whom survived most suffered future mutations in their DNA due to the radioactive material in the bomb. This was later proven by a survivor known as Yamaguchi. Scientists showed the different mutations that occurred, such as
"silent"
mutations, frameshift, missense or nonsense mutations. With these mutations, many diseases such as cancer have been known to happen.
Section One
Section Two
Section Two
Section Three
Section 3 starts off in Chapter 10 with William Buckland. This man was quite disgusting because he believed the flesh or fluid of any beast was able to be ingested. The human apoE gene is what ties us to our protohuman ancestors. Though ours has mutated this gene is the strongest “meat eating gene”. The apoE gene breaks down fats and cholesterol by sweeping toxins out of our body. This is just one of the many cases where DNA had transformed and evolved.

Chapter 11 is about brains. Cuvier, Darwin, and Machiavelli suggested that scientists should examine a creature's brain-body ratio, as well s its relative brain weight. The main idea is that what really matters isn’t brain size or brain-body ratio, but instead how much bigger your genes can build a brain compared to most creatures your size. They then talk about encephalization- the amount of brain mass related to an animal's total body mass. That takes the general form E = CSx. X varies species by species and is the crucial number. For the average monkey, the quotient is around two which means E = CS2. For humans we see that Homo sapient have the most sapient. According to this measure, humans have a brain about seven times larger than expected, but some studies show that dolphins are close at 6.
The Violinist Thumb
Jacob Bottomley - Jose Gomez - Musukula McClain - Michael O'Reilly
Starting in chapter one, Kean shows the history of genetics, where he started with Mendel. Mendel was a famous scientist, for his experiments with peas showed the passing of traits, his work showed the important discovery of the genetic process. Another important scientist was Miescher. He experimented on sperm, and was forced to lift a window open, letting in the cold air from the Swiss winter. This work led to the discovery of the double-heliz ladder, the DNA. However, before these scientists, many people believed in other theories. These people never really understood the mechanism of heredity. When experimenting, Miescher used pus from a local hospital to investigate white blood cells, and what these cells had inside their nucleus. With this investigation. he concluded that all cell nuclei had DNA. However, he still believed that protein were responsible for the passing down of traits. So he concluded that DNA just stored phosphate. Soon later, scientists later showed that DNA was composed of phosphate groups, and a nitrogen-base.
Chapter 1
Now we move onto Mendel, where his pea plants showed heredity. Mendel first showed that certain traits dominated over the recessive traits. But that didnt mean that the recessive trait disappeared. The third generation showed a recessive trait. This showed the 3:1 ratio, as well as other traits, such as height, color, etc... He also discovered that these traits were independent from each other. For example, a short (recessive) plant could still have yellow (dominant) peas.
Section One
Chapters 2 - 3
Chapter 4
Scientists knew that DNA gets tangled into horrific snarls. Although they did not know why these snarls never choked the cells, The reasons why DNA gets tangled is because of its length, constant activity and its confinement. Because of these tangles, DNA sometimes cannot copy itself. If a cell cannot get the DNA to copy, the cell destroys itself, which leads to devastating results.
George Kingsley Zipf
was a German professor of language. Eventually, Zipf started to study many books, and found a ratio in words that is known as Zipf's Law. Although he found that law in literature, Zipf's Law can be applied in music and even science, specifically DNA. DNA's translations into proteins obeys the Zipf law. DNA is an amazing molecule that is able to do extraordinary things, such as being able to withstand the damage of a nuclear bomb, encode words and phrases, copy itself, etc. DNA is one of the finest molecules man has discovered.
Chapter 10 - 11
Section Three
Chapter 12
Chapter 12 starts off talking about a chemist named Matisse. He used the colors that allowed scientists to discover chromosomes to paint with. Eduardo Kac engineered the bacteria that allowed this DNA quote to glow a cyan color. One writer even encoded his own poems in bacterial A’s, C’, G’s, and T’s. Cloning also is a means to create art. One project cloned sheets of human skin cells. This exposed them to the incendiary weapons of modern warfare, then magnified them so viewers could see the effects.


Chapter 5 - 7
Section Four
Chapter 13 - 16
Section four of the book focuses mainly on scientist attempts to understand exactly how DNA works and controls certain aspects of humans' lives, especially disease. Chapter 13 is focused mainly on studying the DNA of famous historical figures from as recent as Abraham Lincoln to 3300 year old mummies, in order to diagnose them with diseases. Unfortunately for them, this didn't always work, as symptoms weren't always clear. Scientists even attempted to use DNA and genetic conditions to explain supernatural stories, like vampires or Jewish heredity from ancient times.
Chapter 14
focuses on fairly recent events, especially the Human Genome Project of the late 20th and early 21st centuries (and all of the drama involved in it). Instead of telling us more about ourselves and genetics, the HGP just raised more questions, like why do humans, an incredibly complex species, have relatively few genes, and how do genes control heritable diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The first question, on our lack of genes, is partially answered in
Chapter 15
which focuses on
epigenetics
, the impact of someone's life experiences on the expression of genes. Finally,
Chapter 16
discusses today's much controversial topics on genetics. This includes cloning, genetic engineering, DNA's control over sexuality, the superiority of certain races based on their genes, and DNA-based computers.
Because we now are familiar with the basic of DNA and how it works, we begin to learn about the orgin and evolution of life all in part II. As Kean explains, it is likely that life first began at the very bottom of the sea: "the first organic molecules on earth on earth probably appeared spontaneously near volcanic vents on the ocean floor. Heat energy there could fuse simple carbon-rich molecules into complex amino acids and even vesicles to serve as crude membranes". As we would expect, the earliest life-forms were very simple (single-celled organisms), called microbes, which lead the explanation to life.
Later it was acknowledge that mitochondria did in fact have its own peculiar DNA. but it was always assumed that at one point or another some DNA in the nucleus simply somehow mangaed to filter out into the cytoplasm to form a new structure (Margulis' Theory).
Soon enough, genetic mutations caused the various cells of a conglomerate to specialize in different functions (the Hallmark of higher life). Multicellularity (specialize cells) was a anjor biological adcievement, as this new level of complexity opened up a near endless range of oppotunities to take - as can be seen in the increible way of life that we see around us.
As mentioned in chapter 8, we have over 200 types of specialized cells. Yet in order to see how the process of cell specialization ges carried out, you first begin with a developing embryo. In the earliest stage of development, all of the cells of an embryo are stem cells, meaning they have the potential to become any one of the 200 specialized cells we all have. At the molecular level, a cell becomes specialized by the activity of its own regulatory DNA. These cells not only remember their pattern for the rest of their lives, they also pass on the pattern each time they divide as adult cells.
Throughout the whole part II, the origins of life and the first evolutionary leap (from simple microbes to single-celled organisms with internal complexity), From Single-celled organisms to Multi-Celled, complex organisms (Human complexity, Monstrous Mutations), Atavism in Humans (gills, nipples, tails), and Private DNA (Humanzees), are all the major points gathered throughout the text (concluding part II).
Chapters 8-10
In The Violinist's Thumb, Sam Kean
explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.

There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking.
(exerpt from page 4).

Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history while showing how DNA will influence the complexity future.
Brief Plot Summary
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