DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule
that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development,
functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses.
The DNA of a cell is like a large library. It contains all of the books of instructions - genes - that the cell will ever need.
RNA: (Ribonucleic Acid) is responsible for putting the genetic information from DNA to use in building proteins.
DNA contains the master genetic code that supplies information to the cell. In addition, DNA also copies (replicates) itself to guarantee that an exact duplicate of itself is made.
"One cell division lasts from 20 to 80 minutes, and during this time the entire molecular library, equivalent to one thousand books, is copied correctly." Werner Gitt (Professor of Physics and Technology), In the Beginning Was Information, 1997, p. 90.
DNA Proofreads Itself
One function of DNA polymerase is to ensure the information is copied correctly. But the information for making DNA polymerase comes from DNA (via RNA). This means that DNA contains an information control code, which ensures it produces an identical copy of the original DNA.
DNA Requires Help
DNA cannot replicate the coded information it contains without the help of DNA polymerase - a protein, made from exclusively left-handed amino acids. This takes us around in a circle. DNA cannot replicate itself without the help of proteins, but proteins cannot duplicate DNA without the instructions from DNA!
Information always has 4 common characteristics:
1. A sender.
2. A receiver.
3. A communication code.
4. An understanding between the sender and the receiver concerning the code.
A Serious Problem:
"...The Second Law of Thermodynamics...says, roughly speaking, that in any change the Universe becomes a slightly more disorderly place; the entropy goes up, the information content goes down. This natural tendency towards disintegration and chaos is evident all around us..."
P. Davies, "Chance or choice: Is the Universe an accident" - 1980 New Scientist, p. 506
Where does new information come from?
Dr. Werner Gitt, Professor of Physics and Technology said: "There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter." In the Beginning Was Information, 1997, p. 107.
"After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence." Charles B. Thaxton, PhD in Chemistry and Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University
Manfred Eigen (Nobel Laureate) in 1982 said: "Here at the molecular level are the roots of the old puzzle about the chicken or the egg. Which came first, function or information? As we shall show, neither one could proceed the other; they had to evolve together." Evolution, p.13, 11/10/1982.
Carl Sagan, Cornell, "The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 1012 bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.", Life, Vol.10, p.894.
Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft, "Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we have ever created." The Road Ahead, p.228
Questions About DNA and Information:
1. Which came first DNA instructions to build protein, or the protein needed to build DNA?
____ They both came into existence at the same time
2. Would the corrective mechanism in DNA be just as likely to correct beneficial mutations as it would harmful ones?
____ Yes ____ No
3. Do all known forms of information contain four things: a sender, a receiver, an information code, and an understanding between the sender and the receiver concerning the code?
____ True ____ False If false could you give examples?
4. Do the majority of mutations produce new information to make organisms more complex, or result in a genetic loss of information?
____ produce new information ____ produce a net loss of information
Much of the clip art on this site is courtesy of Phillip Martin.