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'Dance of DNA' performed to celebrate big genome project

September 06, 2012|By Rosie Mestel
  • These are DNA loops, can't you tell? An interpretive dance about DNA is performed at London's Science Museum.
These are DNA loops, can't you tell? An interpretive dance about DNA… (Tom Whipps / Nature )

A massive examination of the human genome has revealed that our DNA is  jam-packed with “switches” that regulate the actions of genes  -- turning them on, turning them off, et cetera.

The volume of information produced from the effort (called ENCODE) was huge: Ewan Birney, the British scientist who coordinated analysis, estimated that it’d fill a poster 30 kilometers long and 16 meters high, as we note in our story.

Birney told us he tried quite hard to get someone to produce the poster,  but nobody bit. The idea somehow evolved into an event offered up by London's Science Museum in which sylph-like women in skin-tight catsuits perform the “Dance of DNA” with aerial silks that are printed with bits of the project’s data. Close enough!

Catch an exerpt of the “dance of DNA” here at the website of the Daily Telegraph.

As the Telegraph explains, “The dance depicted three sequences of DNA movement with the dancers holding special silk threads with DNA codes printed on them. The dancers were trying to explain in an alternative way the key findings of a research project that has effectively scrapped the concept of 'junk' DNA.”  

Not sure how it all quite translates, but there’s no question that watching dancers hang by the ankles and twist silk all around themselves is more entertaining than reading the likes of “the average number of distal elements interacting with a TSS was 3.9, and the average number of TSSs interacting with a distal element was 2.5, indicating a complex network of interconnected chromatin.”

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