Tony Samson


Before I retired I taught bacterial and phage genetics etc. This field has progressed enormously thanks to advances in genome sequence analysis. My research field was animal virology.

Location Newcastle upon Tyne UK



  • An extremely well designed and thorough in depth explanation and discussion of the human genome and its vast heterogeneity and potential. Many thanks to all those involved in the production and presentation of this excellent course.

  • I can think of only two basic reasons for having my genome sequenced.
    1) to inform me of any potential disease that can be treated
    2) to inform my progeny and their progeny so that they can persue any potential for disease.

  • Nora, according to the introduction of this course the human genome has about 3 billion base-pairs of DNA. Sequencing is done on one strand only so your figure of 6 billion reduces to 3 billion.

  • I suspect that none of the abovementioned sequence analyses would be able to pick up on developmental defects caused by aberrant epigenetic modifications (eg methylation/demethylation) during development.

  • I am surprised that there are only ~ 20,000 genes in the human genome.
    What percent of the 3 billion base pairs does that represent ?
    What is "junk" DNA and if much of this is really not used why does it remain and is not removed during evolution ?

  • The ever increasing rate and reliability of whole genome sequencing would in the future allow the production of for example ~ 100 of the "best" ie genetic disease-free genomes representing widely different communities around the world. However, if only those genomes were present in future generations then the population would not necessarily be...

  • Tony Samson made a comment

    Dear Dr Dessain thank you for putting on this course for A level maths students. I only did "O" level and "AO" level at school about 60 years ago and joined this course to progress in maths. I could not comprehend about 90% of the course alas. I am not aware of any futurelearn courses that might enable me to progress in maths perhaps you know of some. Thank...

  • For question 4 the probability of throwing a 6 is 1/6 however one would surely need to throw the dice an infinite number of times to be certain of throwing a six.


  • I am lost again this time for ever !

  • When you say 10 ways to pick 3 from 5 is this taking into consideration the sequences within each set of 3 or is the sequence order irrelevant ?

  • I only managed to get two or three of the earlier q correct. Here is a simple question course followers might like to have a go at ?
    For what three contiguous whole numbers a,b,c, does a+b+c = axbxc
    I have found three different sets of such numbers.

  • I am obviously way out of my depth trying to follow this course alas.
    I only have " O " and "AO" level passes in maths while at school back in 1961 and I was not in the esteemed class for "A" level maths.
    However, I "discovered" the value for 0! for myself and also came up with a simple formula for testing whether a number is prime or not. Unfortunately the...

  • I am unable to address any of the questions so far on he course but I recall that in the Fibonacci series (viz 1,2,3,5,8, ... n (x) + n +1(x) the ratio of the n+1 to the n th value approaches the "golden ratio" ~ 1.6...However I find that any continued increasing summation of n +n +1 pairs also approaches the golden ratio.

  • In the previous question section for Q3, I recognised the 1,4,16,64 ...sequence as 4^0,4^1,4^2, and 4^4 but have no idea how to get the correct answer.

  • I could not access the video !

  • John, I too could not answer Q1 but I only found 4 ways of getting a total of 10 viz 1 3 6, 1 4 5, 2 3 5, 3 4 3, (note dice number order irrelevant).

  • I could not even answer q1 re 3 dice. I found just 4 ways of getting a total of 10 but no way of finding how many non-10 totals ! Help !

  • Tony Samson made a comment

    Fermat's Last Theorem; no solutions for x^3 + y^3 = z^3
    Let the cubed root of 9 = x then 1^3 + 2^3 = x^3

    also 1^3 + 0^3 = 1^3 , and what about 1^3 + i^3 = ?^3
    (where i = square root of -1) what is the value of ? above

  • Maybe every even number greater than 7 is the sum of 4 prime numbers ?
    eg 8= 2+2+2+2 12= 2+2+3+5 20= 2+2+3+3+5+5 etc
    I call this Tony's Conjecture !

  • Question; does a hexagon/pentagon football surface always have just 12 pentagons ?

  • If you draw equal sized circles all close packed touching each other then fill in the spurs or gaps between the circles then one gets a shape which also can "tile" the flat plane.

  • As the step size for the blue line approach zero then it becomes the becomes the same as the true straight green line.

  • A straight tunnel between the two points on a spherical or other non-level surface would allow the correct shortest distance to be measured.

  • Why isn't the distance just x2 minus x1 ?

  • My choice would be Francis H.C. Crick who not only proposed the double-stranded structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) but also made important progress in elucidating the Genetic Code and pioneering the field of Molecular Biology.

  • Again I am lost but here is a simple problem for anybody. For what value of x is the xth root of x a maximum ? Why is it this special number ?

  • What is meant by "the semi diagonal of a square" ?

  • Again I am far out of my depth with modular arithmetic but is it possible to evaluate the factorial of 100 exactly ? What is the highest number for which its factorial has been calculated exactly ?

  • I have had a quick look at your list of prime numbers up to 199. There are 14
    which differ from the previous prime by 2, 9 which differ by 4, 6 by 6, 2 by 8,
    2 by 10 and 1 by 14. There is only 1 which differs from the previous prime by 1 viz 3.
    I assume someone has looked at a thousand or a million or more of the sequence of prime numbers to see if there...

  • I do not follow this at all. Surely 4x4^k +5 is not the same as 4(4^k +5) - 15 . Very confused re (4^k +5 ) and also -15 .

  • I wish I was as good as the above students doing this course. I am a bit overwhelmed but here is a question some of you might like to solve.
    For what value of x is the xth root of x a maximum ?

  • When I was about 18 I devised a simple formula for testing whether a number is prime or not. The formula works but is of no practical use because you have to be able to calculate the factorial of the number to be tested. The factorial of a large number is very difficult if not impossible to calculate.

  • I do not understand why it is NOT true that x^2 >= 0 that x>=0 as stated above. For what value of x is the statement false ?

  • When I was about 18 I devised a simple formula for testing whether a number is prime or not. The formula is of no practical use for "large" numbers as it requires the exact value of the factorial ( ! ) of the number to be tested.
    (note, 0!=1, 1!=1, 2!=2, 3!=6, 4!=24, --------10!= 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = ??

  • Thanks again Lisa

  • I am confused again. This time with the worked examples re differentiation.
    All the numbers used so far are whole numbers some positive some negative.
    I have no problem with say +2 or -2 squared viz = +4 for both + & -signs. When it comes to +2 & -2 cubed we get +8 and -8 fine. But what about non-whole numbers ? Clearly +2.5 and -2.5 squared is =...

  • I was a science undergraduate student 5.5 decades ago way before covid made such a mess of conventional University teaching. I have always had a terrible memory (as far as I can remember), and I could only remember important concepts if I fully understood them. I did this by taking copious scribbled notes during lectures which I then copied out by clear...

  • @LisaMott Many thanks Lisa. I will have to get my head round it later.
    Out of all the futurelearn courses I have done your feed back to participants of this course has been incredibly rapid and germane. You must be working 24 hrs a day. Many thanks, Tony

  • How do you get theta =sin^-1 (-0.5) = -30 degrees and how does it follow that theta = 210 and 330 degrees ? I note, however, that 360 - 30 = 330 and also that 210 -30 = 180 degrees ! Most bizarre !

  • Wow ! what an answer Thanks Tony

  • I am lost again !