Sure, the completion of the Human Genome Project is a giant leap forward for humanity, but it also means a cool $1,500 in cash could soon land in one lucky scientist's pocket. That's roughly what the Gene Sweepstake kitty is up to these days. The gamble is simple — guess the number of genes in the human genome, place a bet, and if you're right, you'll win the jackpot. The pool is now between $1,000 and $1,500.

"It took place after drinks," said the sweepstake's bookkeeper David Stewart, executive director of courses and meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York. "The bets were, you know, made after a banquet," Stewart said. "A non-scientist bet 300,000, playing the highball just for the hell of it."

So far, 165 bets have been placed by scientists in more than 50 countries. The mean prediction is 61,170 genes, with the lowest guess at...

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