What are DNA & Genes?

Get to know the molecule that holds the instructions for building every living thing.

DNA is all the same chemical

The stringy stuff in the test tube is DNA. But you can’t tell which one of these organisms it came from just by looking at it. That’s because DNA looks exactly the same in every organism on Earth.

All living things have DNA. And whether it comes from you, a pea plant, or your pet rat, it’s all the same molecule. It’s the order of the letters in the code that makes each organism different.

The human genome

The order of building blocks in a strand of DNA makes up a “sequence.” We can read a DNA sequence like letters in a book. In fact, we know the sequence of the entire human genome—all 3 billion letters. That’s enough information to fill roughly 1,000 200-page books!

Contained within the 3 billion letters of the human genome are about 21,000 genes. Most of our known genes code for proteins, but some code for RNA molecules.

Your DNA makes you unique

All humans have the same genes arranged in the same order. And more than 99.9% of our DNA sequence is the same. But the few differences between us (all 1.4 million of them!) are enough to make each one of us unique. On average, a human gene will have 1-3 bases that differ from person to person. These differences can change the shape and function of a protein, or they can change how much protein is made, when it’s made, or where it’s made.

The scientific introduction

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37+ trillion cells

There are approximately over 37 trillion cells in the human body. The body relies on cell communication to replicate into healthy cells working in harmony to perform all of the basic functions necessary for human survival.

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The building blocks of life

Cells are the building blocks of all living things and provide structure to the body, nutrients from food, convert nutrients into energy, and perform specialized functions. The hereditary material is found in the cells. Cells can also make copies of themselves.

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100 trillion atoms in 1 cell

When cells are viewed granularly, we find that each of the trillions of cells in the human body is made up of 100 trillion atoms. This means that there are over 37 trillion cells multiplied by 100 trillion atoms in the human body.

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Hair contains atoms

Hair is known to carry a unique atomic signature for every human being. For this reason, it can be used as a method of identifying a person's cellular health by understanding how atoms work.