Adleman-ScAm94

The eld was undergoing a revolution and was rapidly

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Unformatted text preview: e University of California at Berkeley). The field was undergoing a revolution and was rapidly acquiring the depth and power previously associ- ated exclusively with the physical sciences. Biology was now the study of information stored in DNA—strings of four letters: A, T, G and C for the bases adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine—and of the transformations that information undergoes in the cell. There was mathematics here! Late one evening, while lying in bed reading Watson’s text, I came to a description of DNA polymerase. This is the king of enzymes—the maker of life. Under appropriate conditions, given a strand of DNA, DNA polymerase produces a second “Watson-Crick” complementary strand, in which every C is replaced by a G, every G by a C, every A by a T and every T by an A. For example, given a molecule with the sequence CATGTC, DNA polymerase will produce a new molecule with the sequence GTACAG. The polymerase enables DNA to reproduce, which in turn allows cells to reproduce and ultimately allows you to reproduce. For a strict reductionist, the rep...
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