Monday, June 03, 2013
64 is a very important number.
At its heart, the genetic code is the set of "rules" that a cell uses to interpret the nucleotide sequence within a molecule of mRNA. This sequence is broken into a series of three-nucleotide units known as codons. The three-letter nature of codons means that the four nucleotides found in mRNA — A, U, G, and C — can produce a total of 64 different combinations. Of these 64 codons, 61 represent amino acids, and the remaining three represent stop signals, which trigger the end of protein synthesis. Because there are only 20 different amino acids but 64 possible codons, most amino acids are indicated by more than one codon. (Note, however, that each codon represents only one amino acid or stop codon.)
64 is also an important number in computer programming, because in binary. 64 is 2^6. which is why, lots of today's PCs are 64bit which gives today processors, a vast addressing space of 16 exbibytes) of byte-addressable memory. Back in the old day of home computers, like the Sinclair Spectrum and BBC could only address 65536 different memory locations which is very limiting, you had to write very tight code to get your whole program into ROM or RAM.
For reasons I fail to understand, 64 is also an important number in the book of changes, AKA 'The I Ching' which is an incredibly ancient Chinese method of telling the future. It used to be used by hippies in the 60's as a sort of cool fad.