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History of Genetics

Monday - January 8, 2018 10:53 am , Category : Fun Facts

They may not have known why it was so, but Babylonian herdsmen and farmers knew that certain traits were passed down among animals , Clay tables from the era show they also knew how to cross-pollinate date palm trees .

The formal study of genetics did not begin until the mid -1800s, however , when Austrian botanist and monk Gregor Mendel  experimented with pea plants in a monastery garden. Meticulously cross-pollinating peas with different traits, such as seed color , he discovered that first-generation off-spring didn’t mix the characteristics of the two parent samples but displayed discrete traits of one or the other, mixing a red-flowered pea with a white-flowered pea, for example, would produce not pink- flowered offspring, but rather red- flowered ones, more-over, whiteness recurred in successive generations, meaning that the trait had not been lost but was being passed along in latent from.

Ignored at the time, Mendel’s work described the basic laws of heredity. It was not until the early 20th century that experiments, particularly with the cells of fruit files, confirmed the existence of chromosomes as carriers of  genetic information. Then in 1941, geneticist George Beadle and biochemist Edward Tatum showed that genes were not simply passive carriers of information, they also functioned at a cellular level as a code for the production of proteins. Three years later, a team including bacteriologist Oswald Avery, Geneticist Colin M.Macleod  and biologist  Maclyn McCarty began unlocking the composition of genes, determining that they were made of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA.

The pace of discovery since then has been furious, in 1953 , biophysicists James D. Watson and Francis Crick proposed the double-helix structure of DNA-two strands of the material, knit together by four base chemicals. Since then  scientists have identified specific genes within a DNA strand, connected those to character traits, spliced genes, and cloned or replicated them .These successes have led to new treatments for cancer ,allowed doctor to address certain birth defects through gene therapy , given biotechnologists the tool to grow new medicines, and made it possible for forensic  scientists  to confirm individual identities with biological evidence.

 

Ancient Computers

The space race

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