Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Constructed, and Functioning

Carl Sagan (author, astronomer, astrophysicist, humanist, and skeptic) observed in his book, The Dragons of Eden:

"A single human chromosome contains twenty billion bits of information. How much information is twenty billion bits? What would be its equivalent, if it were written down in an ordinary printed hook in modern human language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters.

If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of a human chromosome corresponds to about five hundred million words.

If there about three hundred words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages.

If a typical book contains five hundred such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some four thousand volumes.

It is clear, then, that the chromosome contains an enormous library of information. It is equally clear that so rich a library is required to specify as exquisitely constructed and intricately functioning an object as a human being."

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