You Oughta Know | 01/17/08

I'm 28 years old and I have a bunch of papers taped to the walls of my office from various institutions of higher learning asserting that I am smart. While I'm sure this is true for everyone, I nonetheless feel like I have some very big holes in my general knowledge of the world. I'm not talking existentialism here but rather basic things that I think I should know that I just don't. Today I'm going to unabashedly list those things in the hopes that you, wise readers, will be able to answer these things and perhaps share some of your own.

Where is DNA? For that matter, let's say I have a cell. How far away from the atomic level am I? If I have gene therapy done does it need to be applied to all my cells or does once one have it it somehow get transfered to the rest?

How does the computer know what to do with my code? This one is particularly embarrassing because I am a computer programmer. Surely this would have been covered in some computer science course had I taken more than the Let's-Get-Started-With-PASCAL. I know there is "machine language" but when I type the letter "B" how does the monitor know to light up pixels to spell out that B?

What's wrong with carbohydrates? I might, and I stress might, know this one. Is it because they're difficult for your body to break down so it's easier to store them as fat instead of churning them into energy?

How do your eyes work? This question started as "how does a camera work" but then I realized that I don't really understand how your eyes work either; how they're able to "grab" 3D data and make your brain "see" it.

Ok, let's start with those four. Congratulations to T-Chris, who got 5 questions right on his first try on the Secret Quiz from yesterday. Almost everyone got 2 on their initial attempt and several people stayed the course and ultimately got them all right. I'll reveal the answers tomorrow for those of you who did not take it yet.


k-chris (Unknown)

michael, michael, michael... call me sometime, and we'll discuss.

Mike (Unknown)

It's really simple, isn't it :/

T-Chris (Unknown)

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with carbs. It's just that people are making a big deal about them because that's the craze right now, just like anit-sugar in the 80's and non-fat in the 90's. When eaten in moderation, like everything else, they're just fine. There's a reason humans are called omnivores.

Mikee (Unknown)

I just don't see what's "wrong" with them though. I understand what sugars and fats do and how when eaten beyond moderation they're bad but I just don't get carbs.

BU (Unknown)

If you have a cell, you are probably far from the atomic level. Unless the prison was built on the site of an abandoned nuclear power plant.

Mike (Unknown)

Always a smart guy.

scottyboy (Unknown)

carbs are 'bad' because they turn to sugar really easily. once they are sugar, and you dont burn them, they end up being stored as fat. not to mention raise your blood sugar levels and are often processed. by processed i mean they started out as something else, broken down, then reassembled into what ever card it is you just ate. whether or not being processed is bad in and of itself is debatable. cells are VERY far apart from atoms. computers 'know' to type because the operating system interprets your key stokes??? DNA is in the nucleaus of every cell in your body. gene therepy i think would involve a lot of cells, but not all of them. for instance if you have gene therepy on your pancrase they dont have to change all the cells in your pancreas, just a lot of them. i think.

Mike (Unknown)

Interesting. I figured cells and atoms were far apart--I'm just not sure how far apart; how many steps away are atoms-as-build-blocks from fully-built cells?

But if the operating system is written in C# what's the translator to machine language? I guess I just want to know the lowest common denominator between user-writing code and whatever the machine knows to physically do. I appreciate the answers though.

sunshine (Unknown)

if I remember correctly, drivers are LCD between code and hardware... that's probably simplistic though.



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