18 January 2006

Law of Unintended Consequences

A letter in today's issue of Nature draws attention to the law of unintended consequences. Scientists are not often thought of as frivolous types, but they can be: many of the genes that have been discovered have been given rather silly names (Homer; dunce; Sonic Hedgehog, to name but a few). This trend was begun innocently by some 'cool' scientists who were involved in sequencing the fruitfly genome, but grew rapidly to include human sequences as well. Unfortunately, patients seem less than amused to find that they have a mutation in a gene with a whimsical name (Are you telling me that my son the genius has a dunce mutation?).

Who knew?

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