DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) for Dummies

I am quite old — 70 years. When I first started programming computers, we wrote in machine code (aka machine language) using the code the computer itself used. Machine code told the computer which circuit to use next. Nowadays, almost no one writes machine code. They use languages such as Java more convenient for people. These are, through a complex chain of operations, converted into machine language. Some machine language is composed directly by computers (e.g. genetic algorithms). Today there is no human writing or reading machine code. Only computers do that.

DNA is like the machine code to a lab machine that produces proteins. You put in a recipe listing the proteins you want and out pop the proteins. DNA is also the machine language for a cell. Pop in the recipe, out pop the proteins. DNA itself is just a list standard nucleotides to code the proteins you want. Three nucleotides encode one protein. It is way simpler than a list of ingredients for Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. It is just a string of beads where there are only four kinds of bead. Your 2-year old could create an analog. Some of the recipes produce the proteins for salamanders, some elephants, most just mush. The world has had billions of years for evolution to find some interesting ones using natural selection (which is not random).

DNA is not a language a deity could use to tell you stop masturbating. All it can do is manufacture a set of proteins. It is very specialised. It is so silly, the way the religious keep wanting hire choirs to sing praises to a string of beads imagining it contains message from Yahweh telling them which stocks to buy. DNA is simple enough even for creationists to understand. It certainly does not require a deity.

Even the term programming language is too grandiose. DNA is more like a list of phone numbers without names in your cellphone.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)