The results of the proof-of-principle phase of ENCODE, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, appear in the June 14 issue of Nature. It’s a very interesting project, and it has revealed a few more surprises (or at least, added evidence in favour of previously surprising observations). I will probably post more about it soon, but for the time being let me just offer a brief apology to the science writers out there whom I have given a hard time about invoking sloppy language to describe non-coding DNA, sequencing, and genomes (recent example, but one I will leave alone, ‘Junk’ DNA makes compulsive reading online at New Scientist).
The reason I am sorry is that I simply cannot hold you to a higher standard than is maintained by one of the most prestigious journals on planet Earth. You see, Nature has decided to depict the ENCODE project on the cover as “Decoding the Blueprint”. Needless to say (again), genomes are not blueprints (as the ENCODE project shows!) and no one is decoding anything at this point.