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Sine, Cosine, and DNA

Back in high school I had a graphing calculator (long before the age of smartphones… or even cell phones- OMG). It was a Texas instruments TI-83. I loved it. Especially I enjoyed plotting circular functions such as Sin(x) and Cos(x)- and highlighting the area under the curve.

Because the screen was grey pixels only, the pattern that emerged when highlighting both functions looked just like DNA.

Innocent me thought of DNA back then as a deterministic biological function - the genetic code translates to amino acid and proteins- such beautiful clean connection of input and output, much like the circular functions…

Reality taught me how much more complex this relation is- with the non-coding regions, epigenomics, environmental stressors, and what not. The DNA code itself tells us only part of the story… and when following this story through to commercial manufacturing of Proteins and Biological products - you realize the amount of variables that go into this function and how each interaction yields a slightly different result (a.k.a. quality profile)- so along comes statistics to your rescue, throwing away the elegant determinism of math.

Still, I smile in nostalgy, when I see representations of the double helix, and see the Sine and Cosine functions run along each other, in a never ending waltz…


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