Usually, several clever analogies and images are used to grasp the amount of DNA contained in each cell of our body. A simple solution is to simply take the whole human genome for what it is: a long message, full of information. Where do we store a huge amount of information? Well, now we would say on Internet, but 50 years ago we probably would have replied: an encyclopedia! So here it is:


In the photo above, the series of books in the bookshelves are the very first printout of the human genome displayed in the ‘Medicine Now’ room at the Wellcome Collection, London. The 3.2 billion units of DNA code are collected into more than a hundred volumes, each a thousand pages long, in type so small as to be barely legible. A person would have to type for more than 50 years to complete the job – at a relatively quick rate for eight hours every day. However, a cell takes an average of about eight hours to copy the entire sequence. Often nature beats us in efficiency!