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Artist pays tribute to DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin

24 Feb 2020, 17:00 UTC
Artist pays tribute to DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin
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Artist Kate Thompson worked samples of synthetic DNA into the ink and acrylic coating for her portrait of DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin. (University of Washington Photo / Dennis Wise)
On one level, multimedia artist Kate Thompson’s work shows the black-and-white visage of Franklin — the late biochemist whose famous “Photo 51” revealed the double-helix structure of life’s most vital molecule, even though she didn’t get her full share of credit for it.
Look more closely, and you’ll see a mosaic of 2,000 images submitted by the general public as part of UW’s #MemoriesInDNA project.
And if you were to scrape off a few flakes of paint and process them in a DNA lab, you could read out the pixels that make up all of those images and more, translated from the four-letter genetic code of life to the ones and zeroes of digital data.
“This portrait is not only preserving Franklin’s memory, but preserving the data as well, in a form that will be accessible to future generations,” Karin Strauss, co-director of UW’s Molecular Information Systems Laboratory and principal research manager at Microsoft Research, said today in a news release about the art project.
Thompson’s portrait arguably ranks as the ...

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