What is Splicing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 May 2020
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Splicing is a process in which two items are joined together. Generally, one end of each of the two items is connected in order to achieve the joining. Many different examples of this type of joining activity exist, ranging from joining two sections of film to joining two genes in order to form a new genetic combination. Depending on the specific example, the joining may be conducted using pressure, an adhesive, or the application of heat.

The main object of splicing is to take two currently separate items and combine them successfully into one working unit. At times, this strategy is employed to join various components into a single item. The process can also be used to make repairs when two sections of a given item have become severed for some reason.

One of the more common examples of splicing today has to do with the joining of sections of communication cables. Throughout the world, cables are used to carry telephone signals, allow Internet access, and provide cable television services to households. In order to increase the network for all these functions, ancillary segments of cable are joined into the main feed cable for the service provided. The resulting web of cable connections makes it possible for many people to enjoy audio and video communications that were impossible to achieve until recent years.

Gene splicing is a common approach in various types of scientific research. Attempting to join various genes has helped researchers learn more about the science of genetics. In turn, this research has led to a number of medical discoveries that have made it possible to manage and in some cases cure diseases that were considered incurable in generations past. Working with genes in this manner is part of the ongoing research into cures for many different health problems, including diabetes and the various forms of cancer.

Another common example of splicing has to do with editing film. As part of the process of preserving old reels of movie film, it is often necessary to repair segments of the film in order to maintain the quality of the picture and sound. Just as filmmakers in decades past would use this technique to combine various filmed scenes into a logical and progressive story line, film preservationists today use splicing as a means of maintaining films of historical and cultural importance. This often involves extracting segments that need repair, creating new segments or harvesting replacement segments from existing copies of the master copy, and reattaching the repaired or harvested section to the main reel of film.

There are a number of items that are referred to as capable of being spliced. Splicing rope is not uncommon, as well as joining wire or cable when a break occurs. With fiber optics, splicing is a common part of the repair process, effectively reestablishing the ability of a fiber optic system to carry signals across a network. In some cultures, the concept may be used to describe events such as the performance of a marriage, or the merger of two companies.

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Post 2
@ORcadeal: Don’t forget about the artistry of splicing genes! Did you know that cutting into a gene (or more specifically, DNA) is done chemically? An enzyme is used as a scalpel (if you will) that specifically targets the genetic code, removing old information and readying the gene to receive new code. This effectively “repairs” the gene, and enables it to produce the appropriate enzymes.
Post 1

As a sailor, I was pretty surprised to read that there are so many different types of splicing! In fact, I thought the word was almost exclusively a nautical term, but gene splicing is obviously more sophisticated than your standard back splice.

One thing the article doesn’t touch on is the artistry and aesthetic of splicing, and line (non-sailors call it rope) in general. Oh, I know, it seems obscure, but chances are most of you have seen rope and splices as decoration without even realizing it!

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