Friday, March 6, 2009

Can This Explain Chi?

DNA Helix

There is a raging debate between Science Geeks about an article on DNA research at THIS LINK.
Here is the summary of a post loosely based on the scientific review:

"DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn't be able to. Explanation: None, at least not yet.
Scientists are reporting evidence that contrary to our current beliefs about what is possible, intact double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. Somehow they are able to identify one another, and the tiny bits of genetic material tend to congregate with similar DNA. The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.
Even so, the research published in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry B, shows very clearly that homology recognition between sequences of several hundred nucleotides occurs without physical contact or presence of proteins. Double helixes of DNA can recognize matching molecules from a distance and then gather together, all seemingly without help from any other molecules or chemical signals".

(D.R.) -Without reading the scientific article itself (I could not find link to original) I had to rely on the many comments submitted by said Science Geeks. While liberty was taken by the writer of the post, the outcome of the experiment seem to ring true according to those who read the report. This phenomonen may be the result of hydrogen bonding or some other such mechanism other than "Telepathy, or God", but this study is curious in that it could be the tip of the iceberg in Chi research.


glairy said...

No chi here, sorry.

The article spoken about is PMID 18181611 if you care to reference it on PubMed, or you can directly access the article at:

My background is X-ray crystallography of macromolecules (protein and DNA), so I know a bit about this.

Quote from the article-
"There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible."

That is just wrong. The paper is pointing out that the specific mechanism is not well understood, not that new and unnatural forces are at work. They want to explore the specific mechanism, the exact steps, in how this happens. They know that the usual suspects in biochemical interactions are here- electrostatic forces, torsion energies, bond and angle energies, base complementarity, hydrophobic forces, etc. They want to know which dancers in this mosh pit are in charge.

No need to invoke the mysterious chi here- the world is already way cool and way strange with just four fundamental forces.

Dojo Rat said...

This intrests me greatly;
You have a way better science background than myself, of course.
But does this change anything that has been described or experianced (Chi)?
I am constantly amazed by the knowledge of the readers of the semi-humble Dojo Rat Blog.
-Thanks, and if you would like to elaborate, please continue.

madamestrange said...

Of course there is chi here. Anywhere there is movement and energy there is an expression of chi.

Chi tends to organize itself through matter into shapes, spirals, tributaries, spheres and rings. Looks to me like DNA qualifies. Chi needs an information storage device after all.

I find it helpful not to look at chi as "magic energy" but instead expression of energy.

Toldain said...

glairy and madamestrange said most of what I was going to say. Of course it's chi, but that doesn't mean its something other than some complex arrangement of electromagnetic forces.

The phrase you quoted in your recent review applies: It is a combination of substance, energy, and message...

DNA is most certainly a message.

Littlefair said...

Great post and discussion!
Thanks all!

glairy said...

DR- What people experience and feel is always theirs, no argument there. And the blog rocks!

I think our discussion revolves around definitions. A sound definition of chi is I think the single biggest problem to discussing chi.

"Anywhere there is movement and energy there is an expression of chi." Energy is the ability to do work (potential energy). Movement IS work (kinetic energy). Are we using different words for the same thing?

So to those here discussing, is it correct to say that for some, energy equates to chi and for others, energy equates to the ability to do work?

Is it correct to say that for some, the shape of DNA is a manifestation of chi, and for others, the shape of DNA is the result of covalent bonds, bond lengths, angles, etc., steric interactions and electrostatic forces?

It seems that we have a debate over semantics, not over the fact that something is happening or that something exists.

The distinct advantage the more specific and exacting definitions (the "sciencey words" ;-) ) have is that one can communicate concepts concretely. The things mentioned can be measured, categorized, compared. I do this for a living, and went to school way too long to understand how to. But that is also a distinct disadvantage- I can see how that approach, if applied wrongly, can suck the very life out of life. I have felt that, and have questioned things.

I do science for a living, and I also teach tai chi. Some people find these two things almost mutually exclusive. I feel that analysis of what I do only enhances it.

So, is it semantics, or is something else being debated?