Basis for grading:
Participation (webct discussion board, in class discussions),
Topics (incomplete: open to student input)
Bioinformatics (general definition):
Bioinformatics took off only
with the availability of large amounts of genome information, thus a more narrow
delineation might be:
Typically bioinformatics is considered to include:
Bioinformatics at UConn:
Courses relevant for students of bioinformatics are offered through a variety of different departments, colleges and schools at UConn. There is at present no Major in BIOINFORMATICS; however, UConn offers a Minor in Bioinformatics that is suitable for students in MCB, EEB, PNB and CSE. For information click here. An updated audit sheet is here. You should be aware that Bioinformatics is a field in its infancy. Many schools have rushed to attach the name Bioinformatics to a program, but upon closer inspection one realizes that this is not what one would hope for in a Bioinformatics program. E.g., often a single databank course attached to a normal biochemistry curriculum. Everything considered, the offering at UConn could be more streamlined for CSE and Biology students, respectively, but regarding the content UConn's offering isn't bad either.
Assignment for Fridays's class:
Assignment for class next Wednesday (9/7):
Don't be too sure that what you read in textbooks is actually useful.
For example, an often stated criterion is "being made from cells". While we can make this criterion true for most life on Earth (there are some problems with organisms that are syncytia - but one can redefine what one means by cell :-)); life on a surface might be a prebiotic alternative. Or what about self-replicating nanorobots directed by an intelligent computer?
- Some time in the (maybe) distant future a computer might pass the Turing test. Would we consider this entity "alive", or would this just be an example of A-life that still remains in an entirely different category? (If the latter, what is the justification for this category?)
- Where in the evolution from prebiotic chemistry to today's biosphere is the line crossed to a living system? Is a self replicating template enough? If yes, why are viruses usually not considered to be alive?
Background Information:Traditional criteria for Life:
- Uptake and dissipation of Energy
- Gestalt (distinctive shape, separate from environment)
- Reproduction with variation - Ability to evolve
- Turing biography
- "Defining Life" articel by Carol Cleland and Chris Chyba, available on WebCT