Author(s): Kat Arney
The language of genes has become common parlance. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. The media tells us that our genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise. So we've all heard of genes, but how do they actually work? There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with myriad control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. Figuring out how it all works - how your genes build your body - is a major challenge for researchers around the world. And what they're discovering is that far from genes being a fixed, deterministic blueprint, things are much more random and wobbly than anyone expected. Drawing on stories ranging from six toed cats and stickleback hips to Mickey Mouse mice and zombie genes - told by researchers working at the cutting edge of genetics - Kat Arney explores the mysteries in our genomes with clarity, flair and wit, creating a companion reader to the book of life itself.
How DNA is packed, unpacked and read - a companion reader to the book of life itself.
Following a doctorate in developmental genetics at Cambridge University and a brief research career, Kat Arney is now Science Communications Manager at Cancer Research UK where she translates science-speak into plain English for the charity's supporters, the media and the general public. Kat is also a freelance science writer and broadcaster, whose work has appeared in the Guardian, New Scientist, BBC Online, Al-Jazeera Online and Mosaic. According to BBC America, Kat is one of the 'Top 10 Brits Who Make Science Sexy', and she regularly appears on national TV and radio shows talking about the latest cancer research. She has co-presented the award-winning Naked Scientists podcast and radio show for more than a decade, presents and produces the Naked Genetics monthly podcast, has fronted several BBC Radio 4 science documentaries, and doesn't sleep very much.
Introduction: It's all about that base 1. It's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts 2. Taking out the garbage 3. A bit of dogma 4. Throwing the switch 5. The secret's in the blend 6. Cats with thumbs 7. Fish with hips 8. Mice and men and mole rats, oh my! 9. Party town 10. Pimp my genome 11. Cut and paste 12. Nature's red pen 13. Ever increasing circles 14. Silence of the genes 15. Night of the living dead 16. On the hop 17. Opening a can of wobbly worms 18. Everyone's a little bit mutant 19. Opening the black box 20. Blame the parents 21. Meet the Mickey Mouse mice 22. In search of the 21st century gene I'd like to thank ... Glossary References Index