“ARTFULLY WIRED”

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Ariel Fana’afi Ioane

The 1900s was an exciting time to be alive. Many new discoveries were made in the fields of medicine, aviation, and biological structures. One of my favorites was an experiment conducted by two American biologists in 1952. 

Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase wanted to find out what genetic material was made of. Recent experiments (at the time) suggested that this storage of biological instruction was either composed of amino acids (the same stuff that makes proteins) or phosphates. By using a series of experiments using viruses (a lot of slushy mixtures with radioactive material), they proved that genetic material was made of both components - amino acids and phosphate molecules.

A year later, in 1953, the famous pair,  Watson and Crick,  came up with the structure of this genetic material - resembling a twisted ladder with a phosphate backbone and the “rungs” made of amino acids. They named the structure DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID (phew! What a mouthful)… Commonly known as “DNA”.

 DNA is the blueprint of organic life. The four acids (amino acids to be precise) that make up DNA are called “bases” in Biology. The sequence of these bases code for all the instructions needed to build up your cells….which build tissues……which build organs….which make up… YOU! 

Each section of DNA codes for something in particular. These sections are called GENES. (pronounced ‘jeans’ ) Genes are responsible for your eye colour, or how big your feet are, or maybe even how smart you are…..NOOOOT!

 (Though there are some stubborn scientists who are keen on proving there is an “intelligence” gene).

These long strings of instruction are stored in weird shapes called chromosomes. Chromosomes, in short, are like bundles of thread. When you stretch one chromosome, you get about six feet of DNA. These chromosomes are stored in the nucleus of every cell in your body. The number of chromosomes in each cell depends on the type of organism were studying. 

Cats have 38 chromosomes in their individual cells whereas dogs have 78!! Sheep have 54 chromosomes and cattle have 60. And if you think most organisms count their chromosomes by tens, check out the karyotype of fruit flies! They only have 4. 

However, don’t think for a moment that size determines your chromosome number. The pond-dwelling creature Oxytricha trifallax is a ciliate protozoan (that’s just a fancy way of saying a tiny animal with multiple arms that help it move around ☺, which is invisible to tne naked eye) that is around 20 micrometers (2 ×10-7m or 0.00002cm) with, wait for it……16,000 chromosomes!!! 

Anyway, back to humans…

We the Homo sapiens species have 46 chromosomes. As you can see, all these chromosome numbers are EVEN numbers. Why? Because half of your chromosomes come from your father, and the other half from your mother. During conception, the 23 from your dad and the 23 from your mother fuse and exchange to make a new set of chromosomes that will give instruction to make…you!

This exchange of information and crafting of new arrangements of DNA and chromosomes makes each and every individual on earth unique. 

There is no one like you, and there will never be anyone like you for the rest of time! 

Such fine points and details make you a matchless being. We humans tend to generalize people into categories. You are either in, or out. You are part of this, or that. You belong there, or here. It makes us forget the essence of our individual flair and style. 

If you ever feel like you aren’t worth dirt in the world’s eyes and their classification; just remember those unique 46 pairs of chromosomes you carry around in your cells. And if that’s not enough, then here’s something else to think about. Our Ultimate Creator made each and every one of us. But did you know he had written your whole life in his Book of life before you were even thought of? 

Psalm 139 says in verses 15-16,

 

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

 

If the Lord who made heaven and earth, the land and sea, along with everything you could possibly think of, watched you in seclusion and wrote all your days down before your existence was known, HOW MORE SPECIAL CAN YOU GET? 

So know for a fact that you are special; and that each and every one of us is artfully wired. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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