The length of DNA: an argument for kindness

There’s something in your body that is longer than our solar system. When you find out what it is, it will change how you see the world.

Ten billion miles.

If I took all the DNA out of your cells and lined it up together, it would wrap around the entire galaxy. Instead, it wraps around proteins called histones and fits neatly inside of you. Every single cell in your body has two meters of DNA.

It wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, all we had were single-celled organisms. Over 3.7 billion years, these cells grew. It was slow; base by base, they became more complex. Then something odd happened. These single-celled organisms swallowed some mitochondria.

Six hundred million years later, here we are.

We began with not much more than a few inches of DNA. Now, you alone have enough to measure the solar system.

When we remind ourselves of the impossible journey we all took to get here, the idea of hurting each other loses its appeal.

Published in Science, Life
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