Day: January 12, 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

08:00 – I finished the lab session on cell-division yesterday and sent it off to my editors. I told Barbara last night that it’s fortunate I work at home alone, or I’d probably have been locked up in a rubber room long ago. Yesterday, I was writing and just started laughing for no reason that would have been apparent to a bystander. Most people wouldn’t find meiosis all that funny.

I’d written about mitosis and decided I’d better include at least an overview of meiosis, a life process with a similar name and similar mechanisms. The difference is that mitosis operating on a diploid cell produces genetically-identical diploid daughter cells, while meiosis produces genetically-unique haploid cells, i.e., gametes. The process by which meiosis produces this genetic uniqueness is called homologous recombination, during which homologous pairs of chromosomes exchange some of their genes.

So, as I was sitting there writing about meiosis, I thought about that immortal phrase that by itself shows the pitiably parlous state of science reporting. A year or so ago, a CBS news story actually used the phrase “homologous recombinaltion tiniker”. (Well, technically a phrase is a group of words, and only one of those three groups of letters is actually a word.) So, for a moment, I actually considered including a graphic titled “Homologous Recombinaltion Tiniker” to illustrate that gene shuffling. That’s when I started to laugh.

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