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Counting Experimentals


In biology, comparing counts of molecules coming from control and experimental samples is a very tricky business.  Why?  Change in a biological system involves many variables that together give a single result - the one we typically publish in our papers.  Unfortunately, there's more to counting molecules than we might expect - much more. 

In this example, we consider how molecules change in a simple biological setting.  The purpose of the exercise is to let us change each of four variables - one at a time - and see what happens.  With a little practice, for example, we can get results showing increases or decreases in the molecular counts - even when the actual number of molecules in the control and experimental stays exactly the same.  What does this mean?  Biology 1 - biologist 0.   

The point of the exercise is illustrate that detecting a change in the number of molecules is one thing, whereas explaining why the molecules change is quite another.  This point becomes perfectly clear by running the same experiment with and without complexity.