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Equisitely detailed gigapixel 1-bit maps of the Moon (6,733 locations), Solar System (772,063 things) and the Northern and Southern skies (113,743,599 stars, 162,252 deepsky objects, 4,009 exoplanets).

There is no sound in space, but there is music

There is no 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

Here I show the decoding instructions that appear on the first disc. These took forever to make, were a lot of fun to make, and might require a full alien civilization to decode.

1 · Decoding instructions

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL | A composite of the instructions for decoding the Sanctuary discs.

1.1 · EULA — E is for ethics

The instructions begin with an important announcement "Hello people read this!" followed by Huffman-encoded Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki. I explain how to decode the Huffman encoding.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
HELLOW PEOPLE, READ THIS! | Getting started with the EULA. No funny business!

There's lots of art and graphical notions on the discs. Here you see an amoeba and fairyfly — drawn at physical scale on the discs. Each pixel on the disc is 1.4 microns, so 100 microns is about 70 pixels. The images shown here are magnified for easier reading.

1.2 · A galactic poem

You also see a short space poem created out of an alphabetically ordered triplets of classification terms from the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. “To unclassified wind!”

absorption adjacent amorphous
and appearance arm
associated attraction brightness
chains close clumps
companions concentric connected
counter-tail detached diffuse
disturbed double effects
ejected ellipticals emanating
filaments fission fragments
from galaxies groups
heavy high infall
integral interacting interior
irregular irregularities jets
large long loops
low material miscellaneous
multiple narrow nearby
nuclei objects of
one one-armed or
perturbing pōwehi repelling
resolution rings segments
sign small spiral
split surface three-armed
to unclassified wind

2 · Instruction manual in 5 panels

Once we have the EULA out of the way, let's get into it.

2.1 · From LUCA to you and DNA

The first instruction panel begins with a piece of Alan Watts' It Starts Now, dedicated to our last universal common ancestor (LUCA). “You are this universe...”

We see the tree of life (I apologize for the millions of sparks of life that aren't listed) and you're taken along the branching all the way to us, into our cells and into the bases of our DNA that are on the discs. It's quite a trip.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Diving deep into the tree of life — from LUCA to our DNA.

2.2 · How the data are organized

The next panel shows how the data is organized on the discs and how it's encoded. All amidst a story of dinosaur struggle.

The pixel stream on the discs contain metadata codes (it was fun to find the shorted codes that didn't appear in the sequence). For example, SNPs of each class (e.g. A/T) are indicated by unique sequence of bits.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The encoding scheme. This better make sense.

2.3 · Amino acids and proteins

The genome is just a kind of recipe book for proteins. So the next panel explains how these are made up of amino acids. I mention that they fold but leave the details of the folding as an exercise to the audience. We can't be expected to figure out everything ourselves.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
It's about the proteins. But you have to fold them.

2.4 · Exercise left for the reader

Next, to practise what you've learned, there is a little practical example of decoding a baby disc. Also the final panel of the dinosaur story appears here — many things are out of order on the discs and the reader is encouraged to piece them together. Yes, “death is very very long”.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Decoding your first disc. A working example.

2.5 · What's on the discs — In numbers

Once you've decoded the discs, you can check your work against this table. The number of bits, bases and SNPs on each disc are shown.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Checking your work. A tabulation of what is on the discs.

3 · Credits

The instruction panels end in a few "making of" scenes and a list of credits.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Credits and outtakes.

I took a photo of Steve Chand holding the flowcell before he loaded the sequencer. The map of the solar system answers the question “When did he load the sequencer?”

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
The hand that sequenced this and a timestamp.

4 · Dedication to Michael Smith

Our Center was founded by Michael Smith. The discs include a short dedication and a nostalgic photo of his office that I took shortly after he died.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
Dedication to Michael Smith.
Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) at BC Cancer is an international leader in genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics for precision medicine. By developing and deploying cutting-edge genome sequencing, computational and analytical technology, we are creating novel strategies to prevent and diagnose cancers and other diseases, uncovering new therapeutic targets and helping the world realize the social and economic benefits of genome science.
We are the Canadian node of the Earth Biogenome Project

5 · Bibliography

We wouldn't be here without the seminal papers of Franklin and of Watson and Crick. Ok we would be here without them but we wouldn't know ourselves as well.

The Nature mansucripts are lovingly typeset here.

There is no sound in space, but there is music () -- science + art + data visualization / Martin Krzywinski / Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
A couple of papers that get you started on the topic of genomics.
news + thoughts

Annals of Oncology cover

Wed 14-09-2022

My cover design on the 1 September 2022 Annals of Oncology issue shows 570 individual cases of difficult-to-treat cancers. Each case shows the number and type of actionable genomic alterations that were detected and the length of therapies that resulted from the analysis.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
An organic arrangement of 570 individual cases of difficult-to-treat cancers showing genomic changes and therapies. Apperas on Annals of Oncology cover (volume 33, issue 9, 1 September 2022).

Pleasance E et al. Whole-genome and transcriptome analysis enhances precision cancer treatment options (2022) Annals of Oncology 33:939–949.

Martin Krzywinski @MKrzywinski mkweb.bcgsc.ca
My Annals of Oncology 570 cancer cohort cover (volume 33, issue 9, 1 September 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

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

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

Sun 21-08-2022

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)

© 1999–2022 Martin Krzywinski | contact | Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences CentreBC Cancer Research CenterBC CancerPHSA