Friday, June 01, 2007
Your genome is a tour de force
The NYTimes reports that the entire genome of James Watson has been sequenced by a private firm. It took two months and cost approx. $1 million. Two months!!! I'm sure that to most people that seems like an endlessly long time, but let me assure you, that's *fast*. I was charmed by the description of the ceremony in which they handed Dr. Watson his genome on two DVDs. "Here's you in a nutshell! (or clamshell, rather)" they might have said. I think they should have given it to him in poster form instead. Then he could stare at it like one of those 3-D pictures, and see what weird images pop out. (I've done this with large Excel spreadsheets. It's fairly cool but gives me a headache.)
They said also that the cost of an entire genome sequence will drop to $10,000 in a few years. I'm clearly in the right field but a few years too early. Someday we'll look back on these years of sequencing handfuls of carefully selected 700 bp fragments and marvel that it took us so long and that we missed SO much information by not seeing the whole genome.
Craig Venter's genome has also been independently sequenced. A researcher commented on this, calling Dr. Venter's genome a "real tour de force". This is ironic because "tour de force" has been my pet peeve lately and I was ranting to myself about it just this morning. You can't pick up a book without seeing some blurb screeching from the cover, "A tour de force!!" Really, can *all* the books be worthy of that description? The phrase has become entirely devoid of meaning. The Diana Wynn-Jones book I'm reading is apparently as impressive an accomplishment as sequencing 2 billion base pairs.
Songs from the Buffy musical are stuck in my head, esp. Anya's song about evil bunnies. "What's with all the carrots / Why do they need such good eyesight anyway?"