Biology, Coding, Silly

GenomeTweet – the first genomes on Twitter

GenomeTweet is a science communication project to give Twitter users an idea of how big genomes are.

When I first found out that most of our genome is noncoding, it made me think about how big the genomes are. It’s a difficult thing to visualise. Various textbooks and documentaries have used analogies to help me visualise the amount of data. They’ve used measurements such as number of encyclopedias, number of CD-ROMs, or even the number of floppy discs.

It’s still hard to appreciate the amount of information. “A genome would fill a few squintillion books.” Which books? How big are the books? How thick? How many pages? I can’t visualise it because I’ve never seen that many books at once.

Because users of Twitter appreciate the amount of information in a tweet, I always thought it would be cool to tweet an entire genome. So I did. The first genome to ever be tweeted was HIV, followed by the E. coliyeastnematode, and fruit fly genomes. The human genome is underway.

The Twitter bots pull real genomes from scientific databases then format and tweet them 140 characters at a time. The scripts keep track on what’s been done in case Twitter goes down for a while and they need to restart.

You can read more about GenomeTweet at Gadgette.

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