Genetics is not that hard (Sort of )

A few months ago, while aimlessly browsing youtube videos, i came across this great channel The Thought Emporium . I was initially browsing for some SDR / Radio telescopy related stuff and this guy does some of it.

But while watching his other videos, i came across some biology stuff ( he does a lot of those, along with laser / quantum physics and everything in between )

What really got me hooked was a specific video of his. ( Justin ) is Lactose Intolerant. So he went about creating “cure” for his condition. He successfully performed “Gene Therapy” on himself by injecting plasmids ( Basically DNA ) via viruses as delivery mechanisms to his digestive tract which produce the enzyme ( Lactase) which in turn breaks down the primary sugar of milk / milk based food items ( Lactose )

I was really surprised that it was even possible for an individual to accomplish this. So, i decided to investigate further.

Easy way to learn molecular biology basics

I am a engineer by profession and a hacker / scientist by passion. Having no interest in learning anatomy i never considered picking up biology as a hobby, but i had no idea biology ( molecular biology ) would be so fun. So i decided on going through some online stuff. after looking at sheer overwhelming overload of information, i realized that i need something short, to the point resource which is easy to understand and is not a dry “textbook” which makes me sleep whenever i try to read it.

So i came across this book

The Manga Guide to molecular biology
The manga guide to molecular biology

Yep, you read it right. Manga. It’s a very basic guide to building blocks of molecular biology – woven into a story which while mediocre, keeps the flow and pace of information very natural.


From this book, i learned the basics of molecular biology – Basically there are 4 nucleotides – Adenine,Thymine,Guanine and Cytocine ( A,T,G,C ) in human DNA. Now due to the molecular structure of these nucleotides, A always bonds with T and G always bonds with C

Almost each cell in the body, contains a nucleus ( depending on the type of organism, and cell type nucleus might be present or absent ). This nucleus contains the DNA, which is a long chains of AT and GC pairs woven together in double helix pattern.

RNA is just a single strand as opposed to the double stranded DNA


Proteins are the building blocks of the body, everything in our body ( almost everything ) is made up of proteins. Skin, nails, tissues, Hormones, blood – everything is either a protein, or a combination of multiple types of proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids, and there are a total of 21 known molecules, which combine in long chains to make up a single protein. The DNA, with its sequence of 3 base pairs ( called codons ) code for one molecule of building block of protein

As you can see from the above image, 3 Base pairs of DNA codes for a instruction of a single molecule of an amino acid( out of 20 possible), and these sequence of amino acids, in turn form long chains, which are proteins .

Out bodies are, in turn made up of Water, proteins and Carbs and lipids ( basically oily, fat-like substances )

Average Human Body Composition

So, to me it all looks very much like computers. The building blocks are binary ( AT might be thought as 1 , GC as 0). Now these 1’s and 0’s together form instructions which form protiens, which can be thought of as macros/function depending on the type of organism. now these functions combine together to form larger Routines ( Lets consider them as objects maybe ? – analogous to cells) which in turn makes up the entire program ( body ) work.

What really fascinates me is, a lot of these DNA sequences are shared between different organisms .

Image courtesy 23andme

So essentially, what it means is the building blocks for all organisms are same. and what we can do, is pick-up/isolate traits/genetic makeup from one organism and plant it into other organism(okay its wayyy more complex than it sounds), and that is my friends – Bioengineering.

Over the next few articles, ill go into various concepts of bioengineering, equipment builds, and a “Hello World” of bioengineering. Yes, its a costly hobby, but its magical to see your experiments manifest in living organism.I will be majorly working with Plants & Microbes initially due to ethical reasons – At least till i have learned enough to not screw things up royally.

Here is a teaser of whats to come

  1. The hello World of biotech, Bacterial Transformation of E.Coli Bacteria using GFP Plasmid (Essentially, modifying the E.Coli bacteria with DNA from Jellyfish to produce green florescence)
  2. DIY Biolab – Making your own DIY-Biolab ( India specific version )

Happy (Bio) Hacking 🙂