Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - contact me Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca on Twitter Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Lumondo Photography Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Art Martin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Hilbertonians - Creatures on the Hilbert CurveMartin Krzywinski / Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre / mkweb.bcgsc.ca - Pi Day 2020 - Piku
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ashLeonard Cohenburn somethingmore quotes

PNAS Cover: Earth BioGenome Project


music + art
I have billions of pixels to peep and light years to go before I sleep.

Start exploring the Moon discs and see what you can find.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually

There is sound in space, but there is music

Moon above
All the secrets I've told
When we're alone
Down here
I'm always lonely
When you're gone
Down Here / Moon Above, Flunk (History of Everything Ever)

Why don't we send this music to space? What do you say?

imagination in space

Flunk has always had a special place in my heart. When I became involved in the Sanctuary Project — a kind of love letter to the Universe — I saw a way to say thank you to by favourite band.

So I invited them to come with me to somewhere distant and cold.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The first 12 seconds of a 1-bit encoding of a 128 mel 3-bit spectrogram of Flunk's Down Here / Moon Above
Want music? Want math?
My collaboration with Max Cooper tries to answer the question "What does infinity sound like?" Give it a listen.

The Sanctuary Project is a Lunar vault for humanity, inspired by projects like the Golden Record and engraved on ten 10 cm sapphire discs. The discs include math, science, maps, poetry, art and a couple of jokes.

Oh, and a backup of our species. Push to reboot.

how it started

A couple of years ago, I reached out to Ulf Nygaard, the principal and founder of Flunk, and invited him to contribute a song to Sanctuary. Something that would sound great on the Moon.

“I'll make something perfect”, he said.

And then he did.

Get to know Flunk from your balcony.

Moon conquest over drinks

I sat down for drinks with Flunk in Oslo. We celebrated Hitchmas. Make it a double — we were going to go to the Moon.

“Ulf, why is this album called Chemistry and Math?” I asked about Flunk's latest album at the time. And perhaps one with the most unusual title.

I will never forget his answer.

“Sitting in a cafe, I saw two people crossing the street from opposite sides. As they passed each other in the middle, they recognized each other and started talking.”

“In the end, it's just chemistry and math.”

To me, this was the Mariana trench of deep romantic statments. I knew then Flunk was the perfect match for this project.

Ok, I knew thew before too.

how it's going

On May 28th, Flunk released their new album History of Everything Every and Track 1 is Down Here / Moon Above.



While the original plan was for the song to make it to the Moon before its debut on Earth, this didn't quite happen. We're still working on the Moon angle.

all our bases are belong on the Moon

Yes, I do science and make art and I love Flunk, but what does all this have to do with me.

Well, four of the Sanctuary discs contain the backup for humanity: fully sequenced genomes of a woman and man. The individuals were randomly and anonymously selected from our Healthy Aging Study lead by Dr. Angela Brooks-Wilson. The DNA was sequenced at Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center.

I designed and created the content for these discs, which not only include the genomes but also the proteome (gene protein sequences) and the chemical structures of associated metabolites. The genomes include about 10 million SNPs to represent all our variation (imagine me waving my hands around at this point). The SNPs are encoded inline with the sequence, so you do not actually know what the original sequenced genome was — at each position of variation you have a choice of bases.

The discs also contain art and snippes of culture (some pop and some not). It's basically a giant cosmic Easter egg.

Sanctuary discs

Each disc is a 10 cm diameter sapphire wafer containing 3 billion 1-bit pixels.

They're thermodynamically inert and will last forever. Roughly speaking.

You can pixel-peep and browse each of the discs.

To me, these discs are a love poem to the Universe. Or a post card — I love post cards.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The top of the first disc. LUCA's cosmic postcard: the human genome, with related matters.

The four genome discs look like this.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sanctuary disc with female genome. The proteome is stored in smaller squares placed around the edges of each disc the disc. In the center of disc are decoding instructions and Flunk's song.
Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sanctuary disc with female genome (cont'd).
Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sanctuary disc with male genome.
Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sanctuary disc with male genome (cont'd) and chemical structures of metabolites.

You know you're done reading when you get to the end.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The bottom of the last disc. Because not everyone has time for all 6 billion bases.

The first disc, which contains roughly the first half of the female genome, also contains instructions for decoding, along with a few of our learned lessons (Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki) that remind the reader not to experiment carelessly with the information.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Sanctuary disc with the female genome. In the center of disc are decoding instructions and Flunk's song.

Peeping a bit closer, these instructions take shape. the long black strip is a spectrogram encoding of Flunk's song. For a closeup of the decoding instructions for the discs, see the Instructions section.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A closeup of the decoding instructions and sonogram encoding of Flunk's song.

music for space

Flunk's song is encoded using 128 mel 3-bit spectrogram. This takes 11,688 × 384 1-bit pixels on the discs. For details see the Sonogram section.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A closeup of the decoding instructions for the sonogram of Flunk's song.

poster for space

A 512 mel 1-bit encoding of the full History of Everything Ever album. Great for your wall or Moon patch.

Flunk on the Moon — eventually (There is sound in space, but there is music) -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The 1-bit 512 mel sonogram encoding of all tracks on History of Everything Ever album.

VIEW ALL

news + thoughts

Survival analysis—time-to-event data and censoring

Fri 05-08-2022

Love's the only engine of survival. —L. Cohen

We begin a series on survival analysis in the context of its two key complications: skew (which calls for the use of probability distributions, such as the Weibull, that can accomodate skew) and censoring (required because we almost always fail to observe the event in question for all subjects).

We discuss right, left and interval censoring and how mishandling censoring can lead to bias and loss of sensitivity in tests that probe for differences in survival times.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Survival analysis—time-to-event data and censoring. (read)

Dey, T., Lipsitz, S.R., Cooper, Z., Trinh, Q., Krzywinski, M & Altman, N. (2022) Points of significance: Survival analysis—time-to-event data and censoring. Nature Methods 19:906–908.

3,117,275,501 Bases, 0 Gaps

Fri 05-08-2022

See How Scientists Put Together the Complete Human Genome.

My graphic in Scientific American's Graphic Science section in the August 2022 issue shows the full history of the human genome assembly — from its humble shotgun beginnings to the gapless telomere-to-telomere assembly.

Read about the process and methods behind the creation of the graphic.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
3,117,275,501 Bases, 0 Gaps. Text by Clara Moskowitz (Senior Editor), art direction by Jen Christiansen (Senior Graphics Editor), source: UCSC Genome Browser.

See all my Scientific American Graphic Science visualizations.

Anatomy of SARS-Cov-2

Tue 31-05-2022

My poster showing the genome structure and position of mutations on all SARS-CoV-2 variants appears in the March/April 2022 issue of American Scientist.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Deadly Genomes: Genome Structure and Size of Harmful Bacteria and Viruses (zoom)

An accompanying piece breaks down the anatomy of each genome — by gene and ORF, oriented to emphasize relative differences that are caused by mutations.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Deadly Genomes: Genome Structure and Size of Harmful Bacteria and Viruses (zoom)

Cancer Cell cover

Sat 23-04-2022

My cover design on the 11 April 2022 Cancer Cell issue depicts depicts cellular heterogeneity as a kaleidoscope generated from immunofluorescence staining of the glial and neuronal markers MBP and NeuN (respectively) in a GBM patient-derived explant.

LeBlanc VG et al. Single-cell landscapes of primary glioblastomas and matched explants and cell lines show variable retention of inter- and intratumor heterogeneity (2022) Cancer Cell 40:379–392.E9.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
My Cancer Cell kaleidoscope cover (volume 40, issue 4, 11 April 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A catalogue of my journal and magazine cover designs. (more)

Nature Biotechnology cover

Sat 23-04-2022

My cover design on the 4 April 2022 Nature Biotechnology issue is an impression of a phylogenetic tree of over 200 million sequences.

Konno N et al. Deep distributed computing to reconstruct extremely large lineage trees (2022) Nature Biotechnology 40:566–575.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
My Nature Biotechnology phylogenetic tree cover (volume 40, issue 4, 4 April 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A catalogue of my journal and magazine cover designs. (more)