DNA/Student Level

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Elementary commentary for beginners relating to the topic of DNA.
Information processing, an analogy between biology and computer science.[1]
Biology Computer science
1. Digital alphabet consists of bases A, C, T, G 1. Digital alphabet consists of 0, 1
2. Codons consist of three bases 2. Computer bits form bytes
3. Genes consist of codons 3. Files consist of bytes
4. Promoters indicate gene locations 4. File-allocation table indicates file locations
5. DNA information is transcribed into hnRNA and processed into mRNA 5. Disc information is transcribed into RAM
6. mRNA information is translated into proteins 6. RAM information is translated onto a screen or paper
7. Genes may be organized into operons or groups with similar promoters 7. Files are organized into folders
8. "Old" genes are not destroyed; their promoters become nonfunctional 8. "Old" files are not destroyed; references to their location are deleted
9. Entire chromosomes are replicated 9. Entire discs can be copied
10. Genes can diversify into a family of genes through duplication 10. Files can be modified into a family of related files
11. DNA from a donor can be inserted into host chromosomes 11. Digital information can be inserted into files
12. Biological viruses disrupt genetic instructions 12. Computer viruses disrupt software instructions
13. Natural selection modifies the genetic basis of organism design 13. Natural selection procedures modify the software that specifies a machine design
14. A successful genotype in a natural population outcompetes others 14. A successful website attracts more "hits" than others


  1. Stanley Rice and John McArthur (2002) Computer Analogies, Journal of College Science Teaching 32 No. 3, p. 176-181