dinosaur DNA, scientists have a surprising trend for tattoos and secret - nature particularly brain
way to be friends with Professor Sandeep Robert Datta, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School. I call him Bob. In the summer of 2007, Bob and his wife Elisa and their two children, Jasper and Theo arrived at a pool party for the birthday of my nephew Blake, renowned neurobiologist and wade in the water for hours. Then I noticed something on the arm of Bob. He had a tattoo.
tattoo, I could see was that the molecule's most famous, the spiral of DNA. There was a logical choice, since Bob has studied the DNA of the fruit fly, noting how mutations in certain genes affect the way your nerves grow and how they behave.
When I congratulated Bob on his ink, let me know that the DNA of the picture is not any DNA. He had a message. DNA stores information for protein synthesis in units called nucleotides. There are four different bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). It takes three consecutive bases to encode a single block of amino acid building proteins. There are 20 different amino acids in human beings, each with a short letter. Bob took advantage of the fact that E is an abbreviation for the amino acid glutamate. He explained that his tattoo writing the initials of his wife, Eliza Emond Edelsberg. Our cells encode glutamate, or as a guanine-adenine-guanine, adenine or guanine-guanine (GAG or GGA for short). Bob decided he wanted to represent the EEA and GAG-GGA-GAG. But only gets a piece of DNA that was a year and a half long tour. To get in two rounds more attractive, it has become an additional E for good measure:. GAG-GGA-GAG GGA
Once a sequence has been chosen, Bob decided he did not want to use the letters to mark each base your tattoo, so it came with its own color scheme. Subject to G green, yellow A. And since the establishment of a DNA strand bind to the bases for his partner (at T and G to C), Bob needs & T and colors. He chose blue for C (cyan), and - in something of a stretch - red T (tomato). "Good enough," he said.
was, he conceded, a pure expression of love geek. And I thought that Bob was not the first scientist who was found wearing a tattoo. I can make a living writing on science, so I spend a good amount of time with scientists hiding in laboratories, research vessels, or in marshes. I remembered a visit to the University of Chicago, where he met a developmental biologist named Marcus Davis. Davis worked as a postdoctoral fellow, learning the genetic instructions for wing stored in the DNA of the fish. As a number of other biologists who want to understand how to evolve new structures - as, for example, a fin fish has become our own hands and feet
was a hot day in Chicago when I visited, and Davis was wearing short sleeves. Image of the film arm of an old fish, Eusthenopteron, fleshy lobed fins, which straddles the transition would take our ancestors out of the water and on land.
I wondered if he had lost something of interest to scientists who have spent much time with, or if I was confusing two tattoos of a trend. So I sent the question to my blog at theDiscover
The following message I received was a picture attached to it. Two psychology students decided to express her love for him and get the Necker cube, a classic optical illusion. More messages came in the days that followed, with tattoos on the equations, fossils and galaxies. I posted the pictures as fast as I could, but more kept coming in. Some of the tattoos were beautiful, and some were old and dirty. And most of them came with stories - like that of a neuron to a woman's feet. It was the kind of neurons destroyed by Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). His father had died of illness and death had forged his career. Neuroscientist
Unwittingly, I became a curator of tattoos, a student of the ink of science. I ended up giving people advice on how best to photograph a tattoo. Rule number one: do not take a picture just after receiving the tattoo. Shiny skin, swollen, not pleasing to the eye. Tattoo Enthusiast Magazine called me to interview. However, it was a strange experience, I have tattoos on my own and without any intention of making any. But the question I asked open brought a flood of new pleasures.
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