Sunday, July 12, 2009
Science, Sequences and God
I used the Henderson–Hasselbalch equation to calculate the amounts of acetic acid and sodium acetate needed for a certain buffer. When the pH of the solution was taken it was exactly what it should have been. This is the kind of science that the CCS likes. Now consider the human genome project.
After a fortune was spent on the project, and more than a few "leaders" of the sequencing became famous, what do we really have? Has anyone ever truly used it logically? It's a bunch of As Ts Gs and Cs. I originally thought there would be patterns that a computer could pull out that would help us to understand what a gene is. Unfortunately, most people believe they already know what a gene is. The genome project has only resulted in the kind of science the CCS dislikes. You take a finite set and you select a piece of the set that best describes your pre-conceived notion. In the case of the genome project, they selected five people and they began sequencing their DNA. When they were done they said, "wallah, the human genome, now go and cure diseases. But don't ask us how to use this tool." The "how" is science. The sequence is a whole bunch of sequencing machines working day and night.
Another such science is RNAi where you select a set of sequences to knock out a gene. You select the best one. You can't lose.
In the Henderson–Hasselbalch example, you can lose. You can screw up the math and get the wrong pH. Biotech companies practice the genome project and RNAi type of science. A company selects a drug or some service and hires "scientists" to prove that it works. The leadership are university trained scientists who find work in laboratories to be unpleasant and better suited for the lesser intelligent university trained scientists.
This brings me to the point of this post. One of the scientists who gained some fame from the genome project has been promoted to NIH director.
Here is the craziest part of it.