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Monday, January 11, 2010

Can you embroider a human genome?

Science 9 October 2009:
Vol. 326., pp. 289 - 293

This magazine cover showed up in my mailbox a few months ago and my first thought was, wow, wouldn't that make a beautiful embroidered pillow!  or a floor cloth.  or a bedspread.  or any number of things.  It is a Hilbert Curve, a "one-dimensional fractal trajectory that densely fills higher-dimensional space without crossing itself."  It is named after its discoverer David Hilbert, a German mathematician, and contemporary of Morris, "recognized as one of the most influential and universal mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries" (sounds kind of like a William Morris of math).  The curve is now being used to describe the three-dimensional architecture of the human genome.  Amazing.

[Image: Leonid A. Mirny and Erez Lieberman-Aiden]