By Bardini, Thierry
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I describe an argument that took place in the pages of Nature in 1980, and show that a display of authority (and a logical fallacy) allowed relative closure on a certain picture of DNA, a picture of DNA solely devoted to being the carrier of protein-encoding genes. 2 gigabases actually encoding proteins, a third transcribed into RNA, and more than half devoted to repeated sequences. ”6 But the very category that Baltimore used to characterize the majority of DNA bases, “parasitic,” stemmed, as we shall see, from the episode studied hereafter.
27 In response to an e-mail in which I asked him about the origin of this notion of junk as a group of DNA sequences capable of quantum drift, McFadden laconically replied, “I’m afraid this is entirely (uninformed) speculation. My thesis is that DNA may drift into the quantum world whenever it becomes sufficiently isolated from the environment. ” Chapter 1, or a Repressor Complex 37 As we shall see now, we should thus consider not one but two basic narratives trying to make sense of genetic insigniﬁcance: the ﬁrst, aka selﬁsh DNA framework, became standard for a while; the second, however, was also available to me when I started this project.
It thus establishes that the standard model of molecular biology, centered on Crick’s Central Dogma and its ubiquitous cybernetic metaphor, extended by Dawkins’s selﬁsh hypothesis, is but one way to characterize junk DNA, and a troubling one at that, logically ﬂawed and established in an authoritarian way. The remaining chapters of this ﬁrst part then proceed to describe an alternative account of biomolecular junk, pre- and postdating Crick’s decision. Chapter 2 thus describes the moves from “garbage” to “junk” DNA in the 1960s and 1970s, and what junk slowly became when it entered the realm of simulation, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.