Exploding Newspapers

Let’s understand the complexity involved in genome sequencing using an analogy of a newspaper stack getting blown up.

The newspaper problem

Imagine that we stack a hundred copies of the June 27, 2000 edition of the New York Times on a pile of dynamite, and then we light the fuse. We ask you to further suspend your disbelief and assume that the newspapers are not all incinerated but instead explode cartoonishly into smoldering pieces of confetti. How could we use the tiny snippets of newspaper to figure out what the news was on June 27, 2000? We’ll call this crazy conundrum the Newspaper Problem (see figure below).

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