A week and a day ago we returned from a month long trip to Turkey and Greece. The tour in Turkey, called Magical Hideaways, run by OAT, was fantastic. Given the quality of the hotels, plus all the other amenities, including a guide 24/7, the price for a single person sharing a room is less than you could do the trip on your own. If you want to travel outside of the US and Europe, I recommend OAT. More about the trip when I get my pictures sorted out.
Finally, I feel like writing again. With Scott Wolter gone, I started looking for something interesting and hit on this article titled: ‘Junk DNA Mystery Solved: It’s Not Needed’.
I thought, Wow, genetic science sure is moving fast. Only six months ago, I read that they had found a purpose of some of the junk DNA, and I wrote about it here.
I hope you’re thinking what I’m thinking: One of these articles, at least one, has misinformed us.
Which? I’m not a genetic science, so how can I find the truth? The same way you would, using the skills of reading comprehension, something many journalists seem to be devoid of, and logic, something most humans lack, but not my readers. My readers are sharp, alert, and highly intelligent.
Back to the article, the writer starts off with a qualified statement:
“So-called junk DNA, the vast majority of the genome that doesn’t code for proteins, really isn’t needed for a healthy organism, according to new research.”
Maybe she should have said, “A specific plant, an anomaly, functions fine without junk DNA,” because her next entire section is dedicated to describing how this plant, the bladderwort, differs from every other plant. I.e, all the others have lots of junk DNA.
May I remind you that “junk” means that we don’t yet know how it works. For instance you might call all science “junk science” if you were a journalist who never was trained in science and hence don’t understand scientific principles. You might also call your car engine, “junk mechanics”, or the stock market, “junk equities”. You would probably be right in at least one case. My point: Genetic science is young, we’ve just started uncovering the genome. Should we call something “junk” simply because we don’t know what it does?
Back to her article. It quickly finishes with the broad statement that since the bladderwort can survive without the junk, then maybe everything on Earth can too. This is called a hypothesis. It is not a scientifically substantiated conclusion, or fact, or principle. It has to be tested and even if a few tests support the concept, it will still not be proven. It will take huge strides forward in knowledge before this can become a scientific principle, like the theory of evolution, for instance.
A current theory is that a part of the junk DNA is there to promote mutation when the organism is threatened by a change in its environment. Right away, one might ask: “Does the bladderwort only survive within a narrow band of environmental conditions? Can it be forced to mutate and survive under differ conditions? Does it do this as readily as plants that have great supplies of junk DNA?”
The list goes on and the science is far, far from the conclusion suggested in the title. I hold science reporting to a higher standard.
I was going to stop there, but my science fiction bent, an uncontrollable urge, causes me to suggest that the bladderwort was stripped of its junk DNA by our alien forbearers and left here as evidence of their intervention in our biosphere. Having said that, I have to forgive the reporter, she may have the same urge.