Putting DNA into your nucleus is like stuffing 30 miles of fishing line…

Word count: 271 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today’s comes from John Medina, author of Brain Rules.

I’m the kind of person who aced English and Social Studies classes while in high school — and passed Science and Math only by dumb luck. (Or by teachers who were keen to see me exit their classes!)

Consequently, whenever I find a science book written in Plain English, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. Molecular biologoist John Medina has not only written such a book, Brain Rules, he also appears to have made it his life’s work to render brain science easy enough for anyone to understand.

Look at the care and attention he takes so as not to numb readers with numbers in the following paragraph:

A lot of genetic material fits inside [your] yolk-like nucleus. Nearly 6 feet of the stuff are crammed into a space that is measured in microns. A micron is 1/25,000th of an inch, which means putting DNA into your nucleus is like taking 30 miles of fishing line and stuffing it into a blueberry. The nucleus is a crowded place. 

John Medina takes the classic “how to handle numbers” advice (compare your number to the size of a football field) and makes it more interesting. He compares a nucleus to an egg yolk and DNA to 30 miles of fishing line. And then he throws in a blueberry! I love it.

Read his book and check out his website. It’s captivating. This guy not only knows how to write. He also knows how to sell….

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