The human genome was sequenced almost a decade ago. Now we've entered the age of genomics — the study of what genes do, as well as what they don't. A terrific article by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times gives you a crash-course in cutting-edge genomics research, complete with some gorgeous charts like this one by Julian Honoré, showing all the ways heredity flows through systems that defy scientists' expectations.
Above, you can see a nice introduction to so-called epigenetic ways your body passes information from cell to cell, or creates the proteins that make your body thrive. At one time, it was believed that each gene was a tidy strand of molecules in a row on you DNA, and that each gene created one kind of protein. Now it turns out the story is far more complicated. Not only can a "gene" be located all over the place — part on one chromosome and part on another — but not all information is even carried in the DNA proper. Some is carried in proteins, and some in RNA, the molecules that move between DNA in the cell nucleus, and the cellular cytoplasm beyond. There is also DNA located outside your nucleus in your mitochondria, an energy-producing organelle, or mini-organ, in the cytoplasm. If you want to understand the next wave of biotech that's going to be living in your body and medicines, check out this article. Zimmer has done a great job making the big concepts comprehensible without dumbing anything down. Now: The Rest of the Genome [via NYT]