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Genetic expertise

Genetic knowledge will be of great importance for entrepreneurs who invest their money in biomedical projects, for judges who sentence criminals to prison based on DNA tests, and for insurance professionals who will act based on genetic information

We encounter modern genetics at every turn. Rapists are caught with a DNA test, genetically modified tomatoes are sold in supermarkets, face cream contains enzymes and lipids, the drug cocktail for AIDS is based on protein research, and insurance agents fear the genetic identification chips.

The results of the genome project have long ceased to be the exclusive property of scientists and doctors, and it is expected that they will soon be a central axis in legislation, judgment and ethics. It is therefore surprising that knowledge of genetics and biochemistry is not currently part of the basic education of every person. While concepts such as sonnet, dividend or geyser are an integral part of the "knowledge basket" of an average educated person, words such as enzyme, chromosome or membrane
causing discomfort in the hearts of many. Most people, even those who are educated in music, history and the widest literature, are unable to answer, even at a basic level, a question such as "what is a person made of". The book "Entering the Kitchen of the Almighty" aims to bridge this gap and turn molecular genetics into a consumer product that everyone can understand. The refined concoctions of modern biochemistry are described in a language equal to every soul, and in a way that whets the appetite of connoisseurs of knowledge. Beside clear technical descriptions and in a reasonable dose there is also a clear link to those topics that star in the headlines such as cloned sheep and genetic profiles in the courts. The book is relatively short, its style is fluent and it is not difficult to read. Although in its external form it resembles an instruction manual for high school teachers, it is an orderly text with internal integrity - a reading book for everything. The color illustrations are mostly good and useful for reading comprehension.

The book opens with a description of the structure of the molecules (molecules) that make up the living body. In the beginning, the fragment of DNA is described, a long chain of millions of atoms, which is a text written in an alphabet of four chemical letters, A, T, G, C. DNA is the hereditary material from which the genome is made - the genetic encyclopedia that encodes all our traits. Although this basic information has already begun to be the property of many, the book takes the readers one step further into the intricacies of this wonderful secret. He describes how the DNA encodes the genetic information, and even more importantly - how a living cell succeeds in replicating and passing the information contained in it from generation to generation. It seems that while reading, the readers manage to overcome the natural resistance to chemistry and observe without fear the beautiful structures that allow the two strands of DNA to match each other like the two sides of a zipper. Next, the "central example of biology" is described, the flow of information in the transcription from DNA to the "intermediate copies" called RNA, and from there in the process of translation to the functional units of the living body - the proteins. Cases of deviation from this norm are also mentioned, such as the AIDS virus, in which the direction of the flow is reversed and DNA is created according to RNA. The main discoveries of the mid-twentieth century are presented, and the steps of science from complete ignorance regarding the structure of the living cell to a detailed understanding of the processes that take place in it. This includes the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick and the decoding of the genetic code that allows translation from the four-letter alphabet of DNA and RNA to the twenty-letter one in protein.

Prof. Ephraim Katzir, a pioneer of life science research at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the fourth president of the State of Israel, bought his scientific publication in the study of proteins, one of the most fascinating topics in biology. No wonder, then, that the book gives the proteins a central place, and their structure and function are sketched with a loving and insightful hand. At the base of every action of the human body is one of the hundred thousand types of proteins encoded in the genome, each protein and the gene that encodes it. Here, too, the text allows the reader to cross the barrier of fear and understand the essence of the separations that make us up. The book deviates from the sterile and simplistic jargon that fills the science sections of newspapers, and is fueled by the fear that the readers will be frightened by the incomprehensible scientific terms. All that is necessary, as in any other knowledge structure, is to absorb once and for all the meaning of the concepts, and in this process the book serves as an excellent catalyst. He describes the structure of proteins, and explains how they are formed chains of amino acids that fold in space and spontaneously create "prodigious machines" with amazing abilities, from neural communication in the brain to protection against cancer. He even describes very well how to identify other separate proteins, for example a cure for AIDS, just like a lock recognizes its intended key.

The second part of the book includes chapters on genetic engineering and biotechnology, explains what transgenic animals are and briefly covers the revolution brought about by the human genome project and the new discipline of bioinformatics - a combination of biology and computer analysis. A clone of Dolly the sheep is described and the world of genetic variation between humans is explained - the basis of all the differences between us, including a tendency to hereditary and other diseases. A short chapter on social and ethical questions that it raises is not out of place
We peeked into the north of the genome. The book was written by two of the pioneers of biological research in Israel, and some will find his style a little out of date. It uses less accepted Hebrew terms, such as "strands of DNA" instead of "strands of DNA" or "coded" instead of "coded". A few of the illustrations could also be replaced with more recent and didactic versions. The lack of a glossary makes it somewhat difficult to navigate the multitude of new words that many of the readers will encounter here for the first time. But these flaws do not diminish the importance of the book and lessen the enjoyment of it.

In the new era that opened with the third millennium, molecular genetics will play a very central role. Genetic and biological knowledge will be increasingly important for entrepreneurs who invest their money in biomedical and agricultural projects, for judges who sentence criminals to prison based on DNA tests, for insurance people who will act based on genetic information and for members of the Knesset who propose new laws. Even an ordinary person will need a lot of genetic information to make decisions in the fields of personality, nutrition and medicine. An impossible situation may arise in which such decisions are made without any understanding of the most basic elements of the relevant field of knowledge.
Entering the kitchen of biology and trying to understand its complex prescriptions are extremely essential to face the challenges of the future posed by our new ability to understand ourselves.

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