The internet is a great resource

Whatever else it may be, the internet is a great resource.  I seldom write something about any fact without verifying what I can with a search on the internets, as our plain-spoken former president used to call the internet.

A moment ago I wrote a phrase that referred to “the mobius strip of our DNA”.  I was picturing the double helix and it looked in my mind like images of mobius strips I have known.   There seemed to be a disconnect, an element of physical impossibility in the blueprint of life being the mathematical abstraction of a twisted oval with only one side. I checked to see if DNA actually was a mobius strip.   I didn’t want to say it was, if it wasn’t.  A quick search turned up this wonderful answer:

Best Answer:  Although bacterial DNA is indeed circular and twisty, the main difference between it and a Moebius strip is that in order for the bacteria to reproduce, it has to be able to separate the two strands and give the two strands to its two “children”.

Consider a zipper as an analogy. Take a long zipper, remove the “pull”, and sew the ends together to make a circle. If you sewed it together without any twists (bacteria have an enzyme that de-twists the DNA during replication), when you pull the sections apart you will get two “half zippers”. This is what the bacteria does. After it gets two “half DNA’s” it has enzymes that use each of the halves as a template to synthesyze the other half. With your zippers, it would be like taking the half zipper and then fitting loose teeth into it – you would end up with two whole zippers where there was originally only one.

Now if you sewed your original zipper together with a half-twist, like in a Moebius strip, when you separated it apart you wouldn’t get two half-zippers – instead you would get a single half-zipper that was twice as long as the original zipper. This is no good to the bacteria. It wants to give each of its children a copy of its DNA. If its genetic material was like a Moebius strip, one of its children would get a double dose of DNA, and the other would get nothing, and die.

The similarities the article tries to draw between Moebius supercoiling and human consciousness are just plain loony. It’s an absolutely meaningless comparison. Anybody who uses the terms “isomorphism” and “limnocentrically” in the same sentence is not to be trusted.  [emphasis mine].

Dig it.

This entry was posted in musing.

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