Home » Genomics, News » He said it: Rising star geneticist Laurence Hurst on the biggest question of all in genomics

He said it: Rising star geneticist Laurence Hurst on the biggest question of all in genomics

In “Hacking the Genome” (The Scientist , June 1, 2012), Karen Hopkin profiles evolutionary geneticist Laurence Hurst, who poses the biggest question of all:

Is the genome like an exquisitely engineered Swiss watch, in which carefully crafted parts fit together perfectly and every feature is optimized to function flawlessly? Or, as Hurst puts it, “is it just some cheap Mickey Mouse watch that’ll tell you the time, but its components are poor-quality and it includes lots of crap that’s frankly unnecessary?”

Hurst would like to know. “Looking at the genome, the question comes up again and again. And the reason I get very excited about it is, we really don’t know the answer. But now, for the first time, we’re drowning in the data we can use to address the issue. We just have to be clever about it.”

Actually, they just have to face up to the possibility that the genome might not  include “lots of crap.” In which case, they can either go on to assert that it does anyway, or  deal with the contrary finding.

By the way, do Mickey Mouse watches contain “lots of crap that’s frankly unnecessary”? Why would they?

The manufacturer would have to pay people to produce, assemble, market and sell it, absent any perceived value to anyone. Berra’s blunder, anyone?

See also: Darwin’s junk DNA zealots “have forfeited any claim … to be speaking for science”

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