Art is science in love.
— E.F. Weisslitz
In genomics, insights can hinge on a difference of one. One cellular mutation to go from healthy to diseased. One cell migration from tumor to metastasis. Even subtle differences in gene expression between healthy cells shapes their form and function.
In Data in New Dimensions, we’ve created an immersive data art experience celebrating the individuality and often underestimated influence of the single cell—captured by high-throughput single cell analysis.
Using the rich data from the very tools and instruments in this room, we’ve transformed data points back into cells and, informed by their differences, allowed those cells to once again rejoin the world of the viewer in the third dimension.
How do these canvases make you think about the difference of one in your work?
This piece contrasts two different blood cell states, diseased versus healthy, in such a way that the differences manifest as depth. Cells on the base plane (the closest to the wall) represent healthy control cells, while diseased cells ascend increasingly closer to the viewer based on how different they are from their healthy counterpart.
This piece paints a picture of the diversity of disease, showing how the cells of a tumor and its metastasis vary in expression patterns. These differences are manifested in the piece through each cell’s position in the third dimension. Cells from the primary tumor exist on the base layer (closest to the wall). Cells from the metastatic site project into the room based on the degree of difference from the nearest primary tumor cell in their cluster.
This piece explores the expression differences that help determine a healthy cell’s role within an organism. Each cluster corresponds to a different cell type along the renal tubule, with that cluster’s depth mapping to its position along the tubule. Blood enters the tubule through the cells on the base layer (closest to the wall) and is filtered by the cells in the successively ascending layers. The remaining waste exits past the cells in the layer nearest to the viewer.
The presence of constraints in experiments, such as sample size restrictions, awkward blocking or disallowed treatment combinations may make using classical designs very difficult or impossible.
Optimal design is a powerful, general purpose alternative for high quality, statistically grounded designs under nonstandard conditions.
We discuss two types of optimal designs (D-optimal and I-optimal) and show how it can be applied to a scenario with sample size and blocking constraints.
Smucker, B., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2018) Points of significance: Optimal experimental design Nature Methods 15:599–600.
Krzywinski, M., Altman, N. (2014) Points of significance: Two factor designs. Nature Methods 11:1187–1188.
Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of significance: Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and blocking. Nature Methods 11:699–700.
Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2014) Points of significance: Designing comparative experiments. Nature Methods 11:597–598.
An illustration of the Tree of Life, showing some of the key branches.
The tree is drawn as a DNA double helix, with bases colored to encode ribosomal RNA genes from various organisms on the tree.
All living things on earth descended from a single organism called LUCA (last universal common ancestor) and inherited LUCA’s genetic code for basic biological functions, such as translating DNA and creating proteins. Constant genetic mutations shuffled and altered this inheritance and added new genetic material—a process that created the diversity of life we see today. The “tree of life” organizes all organisms based on the extent of shuffling and alteration between them. The full tree has millions of branches and every living organism has its own place at one of the leaves in the tree. The simplified tree shown here depicts all three kingdoms of life: bacteria, archaebacteria and eukaryota. For some organisms a grey bar shows when they first appeared in the tree in millions of years (Ma). The double helix winding around the tree encodes highly conserved ribosomal RNA genes from various organisms.
Johnson, H.L. (2018) The Whole Earth Cataloguer, Sactown, Jun/Jul, p. 89
An article about keyboard layouts and the history and persistence of QWERTY.
McDonald, T. (2018) Why we can't give up this odd way of typing, BBC, 25 May 2018.
I've previously taken a more fine-art approach to cover design, such for those of Nature, Genome Research and Trends in Genetics. I've used microscopy images to create a cover for PNAS—the one that made biology look like astrophysics—and thought that this is kind of material I'd start with for the MCS cover.
A map of the nearby superclusters and voids in the Unvierse.
By "nearby" I mean within 6,000 million light-years.