Friday, September 12, 2008

Really Dumb Questions

This article about stupid questions brought to mind my favorite-ever stupid question. The occasion was near the end of a year-long intro bio course in college.

A young woman raised her hand at the end of a class on recombination and DNA damage and. 'So... you're saying that prokaryotic DNA is single-stranded?' she asked.

The entire class turned to look at her, and fell silent. "What the hell is she asking?" I thought. "What the hell is she asking?" thought everyone else.

The professor looked at her for a moment. 'Noooo.....' he said....

.... 'It's haploid.'

And I was very impressed. That he even understood the question.

(A brief biology lesson: diploid means two copies of chromosomes- like humans; haploid means one copy- like bacteria, some yeast, etc.; bacteria are prokaryotes. Some plants are tetraploid. And so on. And DNA? Is pretty much always double-stranded.)