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My idea isn't "glamorous"

Postby Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace » Thu May 24, 2018 1:03 pm

So I finally came up with an idea but my problem is that it doesn't help cure cancer or anything, in fact it has no practical applications. Is researching evolution in plants impressive enough?

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Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher

Re: My idea isn't "glamorous"

Postby SciB » Sat May 26, 2018 6:40 pm

People don't do science to be 'impressive'. All you need is curiosity, a good question and some way to test it accurately, thoroughly and statistically.

Nobody knows what will happen when they do an experiment. Lots of 'impressive' results have come from very simple questions that accidentally yielded unusual information. The good scientist sees something in that result that opens a door. Alexander Fleming had a mold contaminant on a Petri dish and when he looked more closely at it he saw that around the mold colony the bacteria that were also growing on the agar had been killed. This one observation opened the door to antibiotics because that mold was Penicillium from which the drug penicillin was extracted.

So, what exactly are you interested in about plant evolution? The whole field of evolutionary biology is being reshaped by comparisons of DNA sequences both ancient and modern. Relationships among plants and animals can now be studied at the molecular level. Evolution can be traced from ancient DNA samples through more modern ones to contemporary. That's how it came to be known that humans today have more Neanderthal DNA than we thought ( ... story.html).

While DNA sequencing and comparison is still the most common way of looking for evolutionary changes, there is another way. Just like the nucleic acid, DNA, can survive in a fossil if the conditions are right, proteins can also be isolated and studied. The proteins are the products that are made from the DNA blueprints so they are actually the best models for evolutionary comparison ( ... clues.html) at the molecular level.

Let us know your ideas and we can try to steer you onto a great project.


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