Size of meme

The creator of the term meme brought it as an analog of a biological replicator—a gene. However, in this book, the meaning of the term meme differs from the original one. Memes contain much more information than a genome segment consisting of a sequence of nucleotides. The semantic information of the meme is rather difficult to convert to digital format. But the size of the gene can be easily estimated. DNA molecules consist of four types of nucleotides. That means that two bits are sufficient to represent each of them:

00 - Adenine
01 - Thymine
10 - Guanine
11 - Cytosine

The largest gene contains about two million nucleotides, which corresponds to approximately 500 kb of data. Depending on the method of calculation, the size of the entire human genome ranges from 700 MB to 200 GB. And this is enough to encode the information necessary for the formation of the whole human body. For comparison, our brain is capable of storing and processing petabytes of information. If we count only the books in our libraries, the total amount of information accumulated there will dwarf the total size of the genomes of all biological species on our planet.

Human Genome Printed


What if I print the entire human genome as a book? Depending on the font size and page format, it will take about 130-180 volumes. In other words, less than 300,000 printed pages are required to “describe” the human body plan.

Scientists at the University of Leicester have already printed such a book in 130 volumes. It is worth noting that the genetic differences between individuals constitute only 500 of these pages—the rest of the genetic code of all human beings is identical.

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