Video Explainer: The Maths Inside the Shape of DNA

By Jamie Condliffe on at

The right-handed helix of DNA is iconic, with its inter-linking string of molecules forming a pleasing, gentle twist. But there’s more to the shape than meets the eye, and this video explains some of the mathematical secrets lurking within DNA.

Professor Mariel Vazquez from UC Davis describes the maths behind the shape and structure of the strands, adding some numbers along the way for context. Did you know, for instance, that if you took the DNA from all the chromosomes in the human body and strung them together, you’d have over three billion base pairs which would measure two metres in length? And that all that information is squeezed into cells that measure just 10 microns in size? There’s plenty more fascinating insights like that in the rest of the video — give it a watch. [Numberphile]

Top image by Getty