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Shared Differences

The architecture of our genomes is anything but basic

By
1:46pm, April 10, 2009

Whether you like it or not, you’re a little different. If it makes you feel any better, so is everybody else. In fact, everybody is far more different than anybody had imagined.

Scientists are only beginning to discover just how different humans are from each other at the genetic level and what those personal genetic attributes mean for health, history and the human evolutionary future.

It’s true that people are 99.9 percent alike, if only minor spelling variations in the genetic instruction book are taken into account. In each person, about one in every 1,000 DNA bases — the chemical letters of the genetic alphabet — differs from the generic human construction and operating manual. So, on average, one person will differ from another at about 3 million of the 3 billion letters in the human genome. Researchers have recently mapped many of these single letter variations, called single 
nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, looking for variants

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