Can the physical structure of the human chromosome be compared to a simple piece of rope?

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For years, the physical structure of the human chromosome has been considered to be about as interesting as a piece of tightly wound rope.

If this assertion were true, a fully unwound chromosome would basically be a straight piece of “string”.

Why do so many scientists believe that?

That’s an excellent question.

However, I will resist digressing from the point I’m still trying to make here.

If the physical shape of the human chromosome (among other eukaryotic species) is nothing more than a simple uninterrupted string of chromatin, then, how does one explain structures such as these?

slide 7

(please click on the photo to enlarge it)

Does this look like a simple rope structure to you?

There are circles of chromatin coming out of larger circles of chromatin. There are all kinds of complex, bizarre shapes.

This particular UV photomicrograph is just one example.

There are lots of photographs similar to this on this blog and elsewhere.

Some have even more bizarre structures than the ones shown above.

They are in various stages of decomposition that seem linked to what stage of the cell cycle they came from and how long they were allowed to degrade.

So what goes here?

Is this important?

Should this have any impact on how scientists study human chromosomes?

Let me put it another way.

No more than comparing driving to the grocery store versus flying to the moon.

No more impact than learning that instead of just two dimensions there are actually three.

In other words, if these structures were pre-existing components of the chromosome, this changes everything anyone ever thought about how human chromosomes evolved and operate.

And how chromosomes operate has everything to do with genetic research, including cancer, human development, and all kinds of genetic diseases.

So yes, understanding what these things are is probably incredibly important.

The next big question is simply this: why isn’t anybody working on this?

Well, I would like to continue to work on it myself. However, the ugly fact of the matter is there is no money to fund it. If funding were available, finding a lab to continue this work should be no problem.

That’s why I put up a funding button on this website. You don’t have to be rich to help out here either. Even a few dollars would be helpful.

Constructive comments and questions are appreciated and welcomed.

You can also contact me by e mail at


About frankabernathy

I am a retired cell biologist and alumnus of Ohio State University. I became interested in chromosomes as far back as the 1960's when I wrote a term paper on the effects of radiomimetic drugs on chromosomes. I was fascinated at how they could break apart and reform new structures so easily. I became further involved in the early 1970's after taking a cytogenetics course at the University of Arkansas. I took that knowledge with me to Ohio State in 1980 where I eventually worked on my research and completed my Ph.D. dissertation, "Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure". My studies and later research suggested that the DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome is not the simple, linear molecular thread so widely suggested in all the classic textbooks published today. Instead, it may be the culmination of a geologically rapid set of endosymbiotic events where microorganisms plug into each other to create something greater than themselves. Feel free to contact me at
This entry was posted in Fallacies in science, What are they?. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Can the physical structure of the human chromosome be compared to a simple piece of rope?

  1. David Courson says:

    Frank, I would like talk more about your research.


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