Genome: The Secret of How Life Works

Indiana State Museum

Through May 8

Genome: The Secret of How Life Works is an intriguing, dense exhibit showing what we can't see. Plan at least two hours to fully experience the four sections: The Secret of You, The Secrets of Life, Discovery and Living on the Frontier. Exploring 'The Secret of How Life Works' at the ISM

Visiting with someone else is helpful because Genome both encourages and requires further conversation. We are sent away with the charge to be prepared to engage in the debate of health care and health care policies that are impacted by the ongoing discoveries related to DNA.

How can the ordinary individual make good decisions for a quality life based on DNA-related research?

It starts with basic biology, the materials of life. In a nutshell, nucleic acids are the most complex of all biological compounds. The two most important acids are DNA (deoxyribonucleic) and RNA (ribonucleic). DNA is the material which usually contains the "genetic message." RNA works with DNA in carrying out the instructions of the DNA code.

Inventive, interactive components introduce and reinforce the way all the DNA in an organism or a cell works. An imposing 8-foot-tall, 25-foot-long genetic model of a double helix gets your attention pretty fast. A "cookie factory" delivers an easy way to grasp how proteins are made and packaged inside our bodies.

Related events

Genes and Your Health: small exhibit of cutting-edge research about genetic-related diseases developed by Indiana University School of Medicine and ISM. Through May 26 in the "Innovations" area of ISM's Tomorrow's Indiana gallery.

The Human Body: large-format film of biological processes that go on without our control and often without our notice. It's an innovative, entertaining and informative tale of what takes place beneath the skin. Through June 6 in the IMAX Theatre; daily at 11:15 a.m., 233-4629.

It's amazing what activities go on inside of us.

How did an ordinary old Waring blender enable Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase to show that DNA transforms cells, and how did Jim Watson and Francis Crick build on that research to make the most important biological discovery of the 20th century?

The final section discusses the impact of genetic research and the Human Genome Project on our lives, from medical treatments to producing food to solving crimes. Crime scene programs on television attest to public interest in DNA research, even if it is bent toward the lurid. At the Jan. 21 opening event, Dr. Henry C. Lee of Court TV fame demonstrated how ignorance and inexperience can cause loss of essential DNA evidence - evidence that could lead to solving a crime efficiently and effectively. His blueprint for forensic success will be replicated on March 19 in an interactive program, "Crime Scene ISM."

Genome, The Human Body and Genes and Your Health together present complex science concepts in an engaging way for us to understand. Only the addition of books and other related print materials, and a comfortable place to peruse them, would make this solid offering even better.

Tickets are included in Indiana State Museum admission: $7 adults; $6.50 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Call 232-1637 or indianamuseum.org.

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