Archive for March, 2010

The grand finale.

March 22, 2010

After many long hours of work stitching and labelling. Here it is. The finished piece.

We’re very proud but very tired. I read somewhere (I think the Times) that two hours of knitting burns a bowl of porridge of calories, so I think we’re owed a lot of porridge…Anyway, like proud parents. It’s hopefully going to be exhibited at Imperial (College) soon so we’ll keep you updated. If you click on the photo you can zoom in and read all the tags.

Advertisements

COUNTDOWN – 4 days left

March 19, 2010

It’s now just four days until we’re unveiling and presenting the project. We’ve got ourselves a rather swanky (and also brilliantly cheap) artist’s canvas and are starting to stitch it all together. After being hunched over our little individual patches of knitting it’s a bit of a shock, but really satisfying, to see it all together. It does look a bit like a primary school mural at the moment, in the best possible way. However we’re going to add museum style labels to explain what each piece represents (we wanted to play with it being an artist and also a scientific representation) so those should lend it some gravitas.

The only concern now is our stunning centre-piece, a very colourful double helix currently being slaved over by my sister. She’s an expert knitter but whether it’ll all come together in time is balancing on a needle point…

A brief beta knitted history of genetics – 1800-1940

March 10, 2010

Here’s the knitting we’ve got so far for the pre-Watson and Crick era. It’s still missing a few bits and pieces (pompoms, some post-Darwin thinking, JBS Haldane’s moth) but it’s getting there. It’s quite exciting to see it all together after hours of being hunched over individual pieces.

It’s all going to be mounted up next week onto a big canvas, and we’re planning on adding museum-style labels too so it all makes sense. We will be stitching them on though, of course. Grand presentation and possibly exhibition coming soon…

Evolving moths

March 10, 2010

It’s two weeks till the project is going to be presented, so I called upon some professor-level expertise to help with the finishing touches: that of my Mum.

She’s knitted this peppered moth for us, complete with pipe-cleaner antennae  and legs. The evolution of this species has been studied in detail over the last hundred years, especially the changes to the colour of the population over the industrial revolution. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths were lightly coloured, camouflaging them against pale trees and lichen. But widespread pollution caused by the revolution caused many of the lichens to die out, and the trees that the moths rested on became blackened by soot. Most of the light-coloured moths died off through predation, whereas the darker ones flourished, hidden against the soot-covered trees. JBS Haldane figured out the finer points of this change in 1924.

This one’s photographed on my chopping board but you get the idea.

1953 and onwards….the creation so far

March 4, 2010

It isn’t finished, but here’s a sneak preview of how we see genetics post 1953.  Watson and Crick’s discovery is still being created, but the purple and red rectangles represent the cracking of the genetic code, recombinant DNA techonology, and DNA sequencing.  Five yellow and gold pom poms are the five Nobel prizes won in this era.  After this, in purple is genetic engineering, with cloning as a side branch; dark red is molecular and clinical genetics; lighter red is genomics; green is applied genetics such as DNA fingerprinting, and barcoding.  Each field is illustrated with its key discoveries.

We’re going to leave our knitting needles at the base of each field: genetics isn’t finished, so we’re not casting off…

1953 and onwards…the plan

March 4, 2010

Watson and Crick won the race to discover the structure of DNA in 1953.  After this, three other discoveries were essential to the development of genetics into the fields we recognise today.  Crick, Nirenberg and others managed to crack the genetic code in 1961, after 8 trying years.  In 1972 recombinant DNA technology was born, and in 1977 Gilbert and Sanger devised techniques for sequencing DNA.  Following this,  genetics research expanded rapidly, and different fields began to be identifiable.  The flared shape of each of the four fields represented here shows their growth.  Industry weaves its way across all fields.

…CAG.CAG.CAG….

March 3, 2010

The first recorded description of the symptoms of Huntington’s disease go back as early as the 16th century. It was recognised as a hereditary disease and years of research finally established that the condition was due to a genetic variation on Chromosome 4 containing a repeat of the CAG codon. These DNA bases are traditionally given the colours blue, green, yellow.

So the stripes are Blue, Green, Yellow for C, A and G.