Question about the encoding of information

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In summary: The genetic code is actually a set of codons, which are the building blocks of DNA. There are twenty-three different codons, and each codon consists of three nucleotides. A codon is like a triplet of letters, and it specifies the sequence of amino acids in a protein. The genetic code is what determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein. The genetic code is a set of codons, which are the building blocks of DNA. Each codon consists of three nucleot
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Bradfordly1
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What is the difference between how digital information encoded into a hard drive and how information is coded into DNA? It just seems strange to me how you are able to encode information/data into a physical object.
 
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  • #2
Bradfordly1 said:
What is the difference between how digital information encoded into a hard drive and how information is coded into DNA? It just seems strange to me how you are able to encode information/data into a physical object.

Does it seem strange to you to write information on a piece of paper?
 
  • #3
Bradfordly1 said:
What is the difference between how digital information encoded into a hard drive and how information is coded into DNA?

A closer cousin to DNA, imo, than a hard drive is a lock. Information is encoded in a lock by means of its mechanical construction. Pins and tumblers are in a certain position, and only a specific key will put the pins in the right locations to open the lock. If you can make the conceptual jump that a lock contains information, then you are pretty close to knowing how DNA contains information. The information that is encoded into a lock is the specific key that will open it. Similarly, information is encoded into DNA directly by means of the physical structure of the DNA. Its a tiny machine that causes specific things to happen in other tiny machines via its specific physicality.

One can describe a hard drive in the same way, that the physical existence of magnetic 1's and 0's causes a sequence of events in the computer that eventually result in user-visible things, but one doesn't usually think of a hard drive as a mechanically encoded device, or at least I don't.
 
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  • #4
Bradfordly1 said:
What is the difference between how digital information encoded into a hard drive and how information is coded into DNA?
From my perspective (that is, not as a biologist), there is very little difference between the coding of DNA sequences and sequences of numbers stored on a hard drive.

In my limited understanding, in DNA there are two intertwined helixes that have billions of bases connecting them. The two connecting points on the two helixes are called base pairs. Between two base pairs are a sequence of nucleotides, of which there are four types: adenine, ctyosine, guanine, and thymine. These nucleotides are commonly abbreviated by the letters A, C, G, and T.

Here is one base-pair sequence: ATCGATTGAGCTCTAGCG (from the wiki article on base pairs).

Since there are four symbols used, biologists could have used a base-4 numbering system, using the digits 0, 1, 2, and 3 instead of the letters A,C, G, and T.

On a hard drive or in the memory of a computer, there are strings of 0s and 1s that can represents letters or numeric data of various types. It's a simple matter to translate from one number system (base-4 or the letters A, C, G, and T) to a binary system (base-2), so the base pairs in DNA could be represented as strings of binary numbers, and likewise, the binary strings in a computer could be represented by strings fo A, C, G, and T symbols. The reason computers don't use these symbols is that it's much easier to make a device that can be in one of two states (on/off or high voltage/low voltage) in comparison to a device that can be in one of four states.

BTW, back in the 80s or so there was a movie titled "GATTACA" that had something to do with the nucleotides in DNA.

Bradfordly1 said:
It just seems strange to me how you are able to encode information/data into a physical object.
phyzguy said:
Does it seem strange to you to write information on a piece of paper?
Exactly. When I write C-A-T, readers who are able to read English know that these symbols represent a feline animal (as one possible meaning).
 
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  • #5
Bradfordly1 said:
What is the difference between how digital information encoded into a hard drive and how information is coded into DNA? It just seems strange to me how you are able to encode information/data into a physical object.

You can encode information in almost any way you want. You can carve it into a tree, paint it on a canvas, mold it into shapes, change the polarity of magnetic domains, and many more. Note that 'information' is actually more nuanced that you might imagine. See this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information

Mark44 said:
BTW, back in the 80s or so there was a movie titled "GATTACA" that had something to do with the nucleotides in DNA.

You're a few years off. It was 1997: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Gattaca
Since you're within an order of magnitude, we'll call it 'good enough'. :biggrin:
 
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If I recall correctly DNA uses Excess4 encoding, which used to be used ( :-) ) in encoder wheels for shaft angles. Excess4 gives one bit error correction.
 
  • #8
cosmik debris said:
If I recall correctly DNA uses Excess4 encoding, which used to be used ( :-) ) in encoder wheels for shaft angles. Excess4 gives one bit error correction.

If that's a joke, it's over my head. If not, it's still over my head. :rolleyes:
 
  • #9
Drakkith said:
If that's a joke, it's over my head. If not, it's still over my head. :rolleyes:

It's an old fashioned (I am old fashioned) name for a Grey code I think. I don't think it actually corrects 1 bit errors but the code only changes by 1 bit at a time. They were sometimes called genetic codes.
 
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1. What is information encoding?

Information encoding is the process of converting information from one form to another for storage, transmission, or processing. This can involve converting information into a different language, format, or code.

2. Why is information encoding important?

Information encoding is important because it allows for efficient and effective communication and storage of information. It also ensures that information is accurately and securely transmitted and processed.

3. What are the different types of information encoding?

There are several types of information encoding, including ASCII, Unicode, binary, and base64. ASCII and Unicode are character encodings used for text, while binary and base64 are used for encoding data and files.

4. How does information encoding affect data storage and transmission?

Information encoding can affect data storage and transmission by determining the size of the data, the speed at which it can be transmitted, and the accuracy of the data. Different encoding methods can also affect compatibility between systems and devices.

5. How does information encoding differ from encryption?

Information encoding and encryption are two different processes. While encoding involves converting information from one form to another, encryption involves converting information into a secret code to protect it from unauthorized access. Encryption is a form of encoding, but not all encoding is encryption.

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