The journal Genome Research is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has marked the occasion by issuing a number of 'perspective' articles. One of these — A vision for ubiquitous sequencing — includes one of the strangest comparisons that I've ever seen in the field of genomics (or really any field):
Back in 1990, sequencing 1 million nucleotides cost the equivalent of 15 tons of gold (adjusted to 1990 price). At that time, this amount of material was equivalent to the output of all United States gold mines combined over two weeks. Fast-forwarding to the present, sequencing 1 million nucleotides is equivalent to the value of ∼30 g of aluminum. This is approximately the amount of material needed to wrap five breakfast sandwiches at a New York City food cart.
Most people will understand the point that is being made here. Sequencing used to be really expensive whereas now it is very cheap. But is there really a need to explain what 30 grams of aluminum foil amounts to in a more, human-friendly, unit? And even if such a comparison is deemed necessary, is the use of 'breakfast sandwiches' from New York City food carts the most suitable choice?