Friday, December 26, 2003

Genome Valence

Ben Fry creates these gorgeous visualizations of "highly complex systems for which we lack deep understanding because few techniques exist for visualization of data whose structure and content are undergoing continous change."

Uh, yeah. What he said.


Here's the explanation for what this graphic reflects:

With several 'genome' projects nearing states of completion, a primary use of the data for biologists is to search for a sequence of letters and see if it's found in the genome of another organism. If the sequence is found, it is then possible, based on what's known about the sequence as it's found in the other organism, to guess the function of that sequence of letters.

This piece is a visual representation of the algorithm (called BLAST) most commonly used for genome searches. The genome of an organism is made up of thousands of genes (34,000 for the human, 20,000 for the mouse, and 14,000 for the fruitfly). A gene is made up of a sequence of As, Cs, Gs, Ts that averages 1000 to 2000 letters apiece. In order to handle this amount of information, the BLAST algorithm breaks each sequence of letters into 9 letter parts. Every unique nine letter set is represented as a point on screen. The points are arranged from the center, with the most common sets on the outside, the less common towards the middle.

via Ben Fry

Posted at 09:04 AM in Art & Design | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Genome Valence:


So that's where Gattaca's name originates from.

Posted by: Ray | Jul 2, 2005 8:49:05 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.