The Power of Knowledge

Topics: DNA, Electron microscope, Human Genome Project Pages: 4 (1591 words) Published: December 5, 2013

The Power of Knowledge
Our present day cabinet of curiosities (the "Cabinet") is akin to early modern representations, which contained a vast range of objects representing the power of divine creation, in that the Cabinet represents, through its display of five objects, the power of human knowledge. Each of these objects helps mankind acquire and/or use knowledge. The order of objects displayed has been designed to reflect the evolution and utilisation of knowledge: an illustration of the DNA spiral helix (the building blocks of life); seed samples (the growth and development of organisms); the electron microscope (allowing detailed examination of objects); the tablet-style computer (the dissemination and democratisation of knowledge); and the moon rock (exploration of space). DNA Spiral Helix

The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) helix is the only object in the Cabinet which is a representation. Whilst DNA exists in every cell it would need the Electron Microscope to render DNA visible. Two strands are shown twisted into a helix with rods between the strands. How does this represent DNA? Phillip Cohen (2006) describes the helix thus: Each strand spells out the genetic code as a chain of four chemical letters called bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). A,C,G and T sit on the rods between the two strands which are made from a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule (Genetics Home Reference, 2013). The discovery of DNA and the evolving knowledge of it, has proved immensely powerful because of what it enables us to do, for example: to detect a criminal's guilt from a single hair beyond reasonable doubt; detect family connections by comparing DNA from two or more people, dead or alive; (hence the certainty that it was Richard III’s remains found in Leicester); and to give the power to cure or eliminate previously incurable diseases, through the mapping of the human genome. Seed Samples

Seed samples appear on the shelves at the seed bank...

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