Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken or the Egg? DNA or proteins? This age old question would still evoke debate if not for Nobel laureates Sidney Altman and Thomas Cech. Their individual works on catalytic Ribonucleic acid (RNA) showed there existed a biomolecule that could simultaneously be genetic material and enzymes. Thus neither the chicken nor the egg came first.

While studying the RNA of Tetrahymena thermophila, Thomas Cech found unprocessed RNA could self-splice. An important thing to note is that Thomas Cech made his discovery by pursuing a negative control. Rather than disregard the phenomena he was observing, Cech further investigated the case. His pursuit led him to become the first to show that these biomolecules were autocatalytic and not mere carriers of genetic information. This experiment is great because Cech sought answers for the data he collected rather than just sought data for his question: a fundamental concept oft forgotten in our pursuit of science.

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