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Astonishing documentary: Secret Life – the Hidden Life of the Cell aimee whitcroft Nov 28

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If there’s one thing you watch today (well, other than wall-to-wall coverage of The Hobbit* and perhaps some videos of sorting algorithms explained through folk dance), it needs to be this.

Secret Universe – The Hidden Life Of the Cell from pbbes on Vimeo.

In this astonishing hour-long BBC documentary released just a month ago, David Tennant narrates the story of what happens when our basic components – cells – come under attach from a virus (in this case, a common respiratory disease-causing virus, the adenovirus).

Not only is it brilliantly beautiful, but also educational – we don’t just see various spherical (or not) objects interacting, but the molecular details making them up. And it’s genuinely thrilling – I was more gripped watching this than I have been watching major Hollywood blockbusters. Yes, I’m a giant nerd in some ways (especially about this stuff), but it’s also really that good.

When I was doing my molecular biology degree earlier this century, we had nothing so detailed. We had to rely on diagrams and our imagination to provide an understanding of how everything interacted – I’m glad to say, I appear to have gotten it right. Happy thought :)

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* For those of us in New Zealand. I managed to escape the insanity occurring in central Wellington by heading as far south for lunch as I could while remaining on the island, huzzah!

Tim Minchin explains ENCODE aimee whitcroft Sep 13

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Well, here’s a fun little treat for your 10:30 teatime today.

Anybody following the science news in the last week or two will have heard of the ENCODE results. Basically, we’re just taken a big step towards understanding the complexity of the human genome, and how it all works.  Which is good for a bunch of things, including disease treatment.

What is this big step?  Well, thanks to ENCODE, we now have a much better idea of how our genes are _controlled_ (or regulated, if you want to use the proper term).  It’s all quite complicated, but very interesting.

And now, brilliant comedian Tim Minchin* has produced a video, with nature, called ‘The Story of You: ENCODE and the human genome ‘. Watch and enjoy :)

Related posts:

Peter Dearden explains the ENCODE results over on Southern Genes.

You can also download your copy of the ENCODE poster over on Grant Jacobs’ blog Code for Life.

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* If you don’t know who he is, you should. I guess the first place to start would be to watch Storm, but he’s done a bunch of other, brilliant stuff too. Huzzah mad gingers!

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