The 10 Most Popular Homework Help Questions on eNotes

enotes top 10 questions

This month we’re opening our data vault and sharing some eNotes secrets. We get thousands upon thousands of student questions on every topic imaginable. And those questions are viewed by even more students around the world. So it takes a unique question to top our charts and get more clicks than all the rest. Here are the current most popular questions accessed on our site:

1. What are some interesting speech topics for a five minute speech?

Your palms are sweating, your voice is trembling, and the audience is waiting for you to say something. Quick, grab your smartphone and check this eNotes page! We can’t guarantee you a standing ovation, but you will likely get a few laughs or thoughtful “mhms”.

2. List the advantages and disadvantages of globalization.

You can buy a McDonald’s hamburger and a Coca Cola in pretty much any country on the planet, but is that a good thing? These answers will make you think twice about the impact of our connected world. Continue Reading ›

Shakespeare? It’s in the DNA


Are you old enough to remember when floppy disks were actually floppy? Or maybe when disks were 3″ wide? (Yes, kids, that’s what that little icon to “save” your work to your hard drives and flash drives represents, a hard little disk that held approximately two Word files or a half a dozen pictures (but not at the same time).

Maybe you think data storage has reached its pinnacle. It is rather startling to realize you carry more technology in your pocket on your smart phone than was available for the moon landing (but with considerably less LOL cats).  But when you understand that there is now over one trillion gigabytes of information in the world, not even the iPhone 204 can keep up with that pace. (Here’s what 10 trillion gigabytes looks like in numbers: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000…. ten plus twenty one zeroes).

Every method of storage we have thus far employed has had long-term storage problems. CDs and DVDs scratch and wear out, as do magnetic tapes. But what about DNA, nature’s storage system? DNA is compact and durable. We can extract DNA information from bones that are millions of years old.

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s actually science-in-action. Nick Goldman heads up a research team at European Bioinformatics Institute in the U.K. Goldman and his fellow scientists are studying DNA data storage and Goldman has written a paper on the process which appeared  in the journal Nature last week.

In an interview with Ira Flatow on NPR’s “Science Friday,” Goldman explains that DNA utilizes a storage system much like computers use ones and zeroes so “[w]e wrote a computer program that embodied a code that would convert the zeros and ones from a hard disk drive into the letters that we use to represent DNA, and then we – our collaborators in California  – were able to actually synthesize physical DNA.”

Once the scientists realized this was possible, they decided what they would first try to encode and store:

[W]e chose a photograph of our own institute because we’re sort of self-publicists at heart, I guess, and an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream,” all of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a PDF that contained in fact the paper, the scientific paper by Watson and Crick that first described the structure of DNA itself.

All of this information, Golman says, is saved  on the equivalent of a speck of dust. How large of an area would contain all 10 trillion gigabytes of the world’s information? It would “fit in the back of a station wagon.”