Science Marvels #1

by Lorien E. Menhennett

I dove back into science yesterday. My first medical school assignment is to complete a prematriculation assessment, and since I’ve been out of school for a few years (finished my coursework in the spring of 2012), I’m brushing up on some basic concepts along the way. In doing so, I quickly rediscovered the pure joy I find in studying science. To try and share that sense of awe and wonder, I’m going to post periodic amazing science facts or concepts on my blog. Here is today’s entry.

Electron micrograph of chromosomes from Berkeley.

Electron micrograph of chromosomes from Berkeley.

The Amazing Chromosome: Stretched out to its “contour” length, chromosomes range from 1.6 to 8.2 centimeters long. Yes, CENTIMETERS. This according to my medical biochemistry book. Holy cow! Question: So how do these linear segments of DNA fit in our tiny cells? Answer: They are condensed more than 8,000 fold, coiled and wrapped over and over with RNA and proteins called histones. Wow. Marvelous indeed.