Joined: Jan. 2003
An article in http://www.salon.com , How I decoded the human genome, features this comment from someone with a long career in programming:
|Kent spoke to me in nerdspeak, with geekoid locutions such as the use of "build" as a noun: "That's the most recent build of the genome. Build 31." I was used to hearing biologists talking about the elegance of DNA with what might be called reverence. By contrast Kent spoke of DNA as if it were the most convoluted, ill-documented, haphazardly maintained spaghetti code -- not God's most sublime handiwork, but some hack's kludge riddled with countless generations of side effects, and "parasites on parasites." |
"It's a massive system to reverse-engineer," he said. "DNA is machine code. Genes are assembler, proteins are higher-level languages like C, cells are like processes ... the analogy breaks down at the margins but offers useful insights." It was nearly impossible to tell the working code from cruft, Kent said. "That's why a lot of people say, 'The genome is junk.'" But that's what he found interesting: a high-quality programmer's code is always self-evident, but legacy assembler handed down from generation to generation of bricoleurs (I'm paraphrasing again) provides a real challenge for people who like puzzles.
A bricoleur is a tinkerer, someone who constructs with whatever is available.