I offer this definition for discussion, within the context of a living natural body (plant, animal, bacteria, etc.)....The SOUL of life is the informational essence of DNA.
The word “soul” is used in many metaphorical sense, of which your use here, Rade, seems as apt to me as many. Similarly, metaphors like “Henry Ford was the Soul of the early Ford Motor Company”, or “the Constitution is the soul of the Republic” makes sense. “Core” and “essence” can be used to replace “soul” in such statements, and as they don’t have more specific common meanings, are arguably better and less metaphorical.
You’ve explicitly equate “soul” and “essence” in your definition, which I think weakens it, but the principle I think you’re expressing – that everything about a “living natural body” is described in its DNA – is a widely accepted, though controversial and also widely dissented from one. As I read it, you’ve exactly restated what’s most commonly called the central dogma of molecular biology
. The “information essence of DNA”, as you phrase it, seems to me to be synonymous with the more common term “genome
”, although “genome” described includes information stored naturally as base pairs in both in DNA or RNA, and also the same information when stored artificially, such as in a computer record of the sequence of base pairs in an organism’s DNA or RNA.
As the most common meanings of “soul” include a quality of ineffability – something that is difficult or impossible to describe in simple material terms – I think it’s better not to use it to define something as concretely defined as the genome. “Soul”, I think, is better used to refer to hard-to-define qualities. Perhaps my favorite use of it in this way is in the title of a book about the designing, building, and deployment of a popular 1980s computer, Tracy Kidder’s National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning 1981 The Soul of a New Machine
I found one this flaw in the otherwise IMHO righ-on details of your post:
[Note: DNA is in all cells of the body, even if not activated].
Not all cells in the body have DNA. Red blood cells, for instance, do not, though they are metabolically active and important.
The key point I’m making here is that, though as you rightly state, a genome is needed for an entire organism to function, it’s not needed by every cell. By not having DNA in every cell, the metabolic efficiency of the entire organism is increased.
How many grams of DNA within a human body ? One account I read estimated 60g DNA in a typical human body, but the error of measurement expected to be large.
60 grams is a pretty good estimate. We know with fairly high precision the number of each base pairs in a typical human genome (about 6406000000 in women and 6294000000 in men – see the wikipedia article C-value
for more), the mass of each base pair (on average, about 1.022 x 10-21
grams), and with less precision, the number of cells in a human body (about 1013
), which multiplied together, gives about 60 grams. Because the precise number of DNA-containing cells in individual humans varies, and the precise number of DNA-containing cells in a given individual varies as he or she ages (it’s roughly proportional to mass), the precise mass of the DNA in a given individual falls in a fairly wide range. So, discounting mass from fat (lipid molecules don’t have true cell structures, so are not DNA-containing) small people have less, large people more. Infants, massing on the order of about 1/10th what adults do, have roughly 1/10th the total DNA mass of an adult.
I suspect this variability is enough to make most people intuitively reject equating DNA with “soul”, as they’d find it disturbing to nonsensical to conclude that an infant has only 5% as much soul as a typical adult, or a person with dwarfism 50%, or a very large person 150%+.
Some might find it amusing that, cell-for-cell, women, with their slightly larger chromosomes, have about 1.8% more “soul” then men, or that, as we age and our telomeres
shorten, our per-cell “soul” decreases slightly, by about 0.0002%, but not amusing enough to accept your DNA = soul definition.
Though I reject your definition, Rade, kudos for interesting and creative outside-the-box thinking.