How does the genetic code of the human species measure up against Microsoft Windows XP? Comparing the size of human genome to the latest operating system from Redmond may sound like a stretch, but the results might surprise you.
A DNA molecule consists of two strands that wrap around each other to resemble a twisted ladder whose sides, made of sugar and phosphate molecules are connected by rungs of nitrogen-containing chemicals called bases. There are 4 different bases that are present in DNA, which are Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine. These bases are always paired in such a way that Adenine connects to Thymine, and Cytosine connects to Guanine. These pairings produce 4 different base pair possibilities—A to T, T to A, G to C, and C to G.
The human genome, which is the entire sequence of DNA for the human body, consists of around 3 billion of these base pairs. This sequence is grouped into 23 distinct parts known as chromosome pairs. Our human genome is the latest in a long line of evolution, which is considered by many to be the architectural blueprint for human life.
The Windows XP operating system is the latest in a long line of operating systems from Microsoft Corporation. An operating system is the life force of a personal computer’s collection of hardware. It enables the running of applications, management of information, provides for data sharing and communication, and much more. The Windows XP operating system is grouped into over 5,000 distinct parts known as system components, libraries, and applications.
Computers store data in a binary format (0’s and 1’s) which can be thought of as rows of light switches either turned off or on. These 0 and 1 bits are usually grouped together to form larger numbers or structures--the smallest being a “byte” which consists of 8 bits. The computer industry denotes storage requirements in terms of bytes. Windows XP installed and configured requires around 1,500,000,000 bytes that can be stated as 1.5 gigabytes or 1,500 megabytes.
In order to represent a DNA sequence on a computer we would need to be able to represent all 4 base pair possibilities in binary form. This can be done using a minimum of 2 bits, which yields 4 different bit combinations (00, 01, 10, and 11). Each 2 bit combination would represent one DNA sequence. A single byte (or 8 bits) can represent 4 DNA sequences. In order to store the entire human genome on a computer without compression would require around 3,000,000,000 / 4 = 750,000,000 bytes of storage or 750 megabytes.
The human genome requires 750 megabytes of storage compared to 1,500 megabytes of storage for Windows XP. Microsoft’s latest operating system requires twice the storage space than the genetic blueprint of the human species. This does not imply that Windows XP is more advanced or complex than the human genome, in fact, there is little correlation between the complexity of an organism and the length of its DNA sequence. A simple creature known as amoeba dubia has a genome that is over 200 times larger than the human genome.
In conclusion, the Microsoft Windows XP operating system contains more code for operation of a personal computer than the human genome contains for the creation of life.