Test Your DNA Knowledge

Test Your DNA Knowledge

DNA is known as the blueprint of life, and it’s everywhere. Well everywhere except in your red blood cells. And we all know that law enforcement uses DNA testing to help solve crimes. To do so, scientists and technicians normally look at 13 specific DNA markers. Why 13? Because the odds that any two people have the exact same 13 loci (location) profile is approximately one in one billion. Now that’s pretty darn accurate.

Who knew that cops would someday turn to the human genome to help find the “who” in the whodunits? And speaking of the very complex human genome…Do you know how long it would take to type the human genome (on your laptop or computer)? Get this… It would take a person typing 8 hours per day at a rate of 60 words per minute, around 50 years to complete the task! And according to my wife, that’s about how long it’s taking me to write the thriller I’ve been working on. But, there’s daylight at the end of the tunnel. The rewrites will soon be in my agent’s hands. Anyway…

So what else do you know, or not know about DNA? How about…

– If you stacked all the letters in the human genome (3 billion of them) end to end and one millimeter apart, they would reach a height of something like 7,000 times the height of the Empire State Building. Oh, somewhere in the middle of the Empire State Building is the office of a well-known literary agent who represents one of mystery’s most beloved authors. Well, I guess he still has an office there.

– DNA testing is used to authenticate foods such as fine wines. It’s also used to test the purity of farm crops.

– Identical twins have the same DNA.

– Changes in a DNA sequence are called mutations. Many things, such as drug abuse and UV radiation can cause mutations.

– DNA mutations can be associated with a higher risk of certain diseases.

– Paternity DNA testing compares segments of the potential father’s DNA with the DNA of the child.

– Genes are made of DNA.

– Want to travel to the moon? Well, if you unwrapped all the DNA in your body you could reach the moon…6,000 times!

– If you unwound and knotted together the strands of DNA in a single cell, it would be approximately 6 feet tall, but only 50 trillionths of an inch wide. Now you know how they make supermodels.

– Your entire DNA sequence would fill 200 NYC phone books.

– There are 3 billion DNA bases in your genome.

I said genome, not gnome…

– The DNA ladder normally twists to the right.

– The sides of the DNA ladder are made of sugars and phosphate atoms.

– Hydrogen bonds hold the ladders together.

– The rungs of the ladder are made up of bases.

Adenine (A) is a base.

Thymine (T) is a base.

Cytosine (C) is a base

Guanine (G) is a base.

– The police do not have instant DNA test kits. It can take weeks and even months receive results from the lab.

– Every case is not solved by DNA. In fact, most are not.

– Lanie Parish is not a real medical examiner.


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Want to know more about DNA? Then you’ll certainly want to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. This year we’ve added workshops on DNA and bioterrorism.


Have you reserved your spot for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy?

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