Having the opportunity to pick a class slightly outside of my main curriculum, I signed-up for an eight-week pluridisciplinary session on bioinformatics in genetics. I had my first lecture on Friday.
What I’ve learned so far:
- This particular area of bioinfo (applying advanced AI algorithms to genetic research) is absolutely fascinating. With its mixing of cutting-edge results in biology, mathematics, physics and AI, it’s tough not being sucked in by the way they all combine into truly sci-fiesque results.
- About 3 month away from graduating into a field I have planned to pursue my researches in, I am suddenly starting to wonder about a switch in research paths. Yes: yet another existential academic crisis. Just what I needed now.
- During the introductory part on gene decoding patterns, when asked about information entropy in gene sequences, the lecturer: “Oh, it varies a lot between life forms. Viruses, for instance, have an extremely high entropy: lots of genes are coded using both directions of the helix”.
- What this means in layman’s term: viruses’ use compression in their genetic code… Yes, your flu virus may come in its own zip archive, just like your e-mail viruses!
- “Viruses are amazing things”, she concluded with an earnest look of admiration on her face (maniacal laughter did not follow, however).
- Yes, there is something ever so slightly chilling about hearing a respected biotech researcher uttering such phrases.
- I think I want to go into bioinformatics.
- Viruses are, like, totally cool.