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Imagine that today is your first day at a brand new job, and your new boss slaps an enormous booklet on your desk, then walks off without a word. The front of the booklet reads “HOW TO DO YOUR JOB”, and underneath in smaller print is the word accountant, and underneath that is the number 4.

You haven’t been to accounting school, but that’s alright, you think to yourself–all you need to know is right here in this book. You spot a brightly-colored page marker sticking out and flip open to that section. The pages appear to be photocopies, perfectly readable in most places but with blemishes and copying errors completely obscuring some areas, as if the source of the photocopy you’re holding in your hand was itself a photocopy (maybe that has something to do with the “4” you saw on the front page). You shrug and get on with your work despite the errors.

Perhaps your employer should take more care–sometimes modified instruction booklets contain instructions that drive employees insane and cause them to ransack the office. But that’s quite rare. Usually these errors have subtler effects on employee performance, and in your case, a booklet 4 copies removed from


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