Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Sound of Swine Flu

Here's something extraordinary - scientist Stephan Zielinski has turned Swine Flu into ambient music. Oh yes. Here's what it sounds like:

video

The amino acid sequence within Swine Flu hemagglutinin FJ966952 looks like this:

MKAILVVMLYTFATANADTLCIGYHANNSTDTVDTVLEKNVTVTHSVNLLEDKHNGKLCK
LRGVAPLHLGKCNIAGWILGNPECESLSTASSWSYIVETSSSDNGTCYPGDFIDYEELRE
QLSSVSSFERFEIFPKTSSWPNHDSNKGVTAACPHAGAKSFYKNLIWLVKKGNSYPKLSK
SYINDKGKEVLVLWGIHHPSTSADQQSLYQNADAYVFVGSSRYSKKFKPEIAIRPKVRDQ
EGRMNYYWTLVEPGDKITFEATGNLVVPRYAFAMERNAGSGIIISDTPVHDCNTTCQTPK
GAINTSLPFQNIHPITIGKCPKYVKSTKLRLATGLRNVPSIQSRGLFGAIAGFIEGGWTG
MVDGWYGYHHQNEQGSGYAADLKSTQNAIDEITNKVNSVIEKMNTQFTAVGKEFNHLEKR
IENLNKKVDDGFLDIWTYNAELLVLLENERTLDYHDSNVKNLYEKVRSQLKNNAKEIGNG
CFEFYHKCDNTCMESVKNGTYDYPKYSEEAKLNREEIDGVKLESTRIYQILAIYSTVASS
LVLVVSLGAISFWMCSNGSLQCRICI


Each letter corresponds to one amino acid. So if you attach a sound to each value and then set it to a 3/4 time, you get music. Zielinski explains it like this: 'Amino acids with side chains that are neither aromatic not aliphatic control the piano and organ: the nine non-hydrophobics the piano, and the four hydrophobics the organ. The three amino acids with aliphatic side chains control the low synthesizer, while the four with aromatics control the percussion.' Simple really.

So now you can hear what Swine Flu sounds like.

I've adopted it as my ring tone.

3 comments:

PurestGreen said...

I am still a new reader to your blog, but already I have ceased to be surprised at many of the things you find to share with us.

I hope your phone goes off on the train so you can explain to the people you are twittering about, that this is the sound of swine flu. Watch them all move to the next carriage...

Persephone said...

Is this how scientists use their grant money, or did he come up with this in his copious free time?

Stevyn Colgan said...

Purest Green - It has prompted quite a few comments. I'm glad you popped by. x

Persephone - Yes. I think itis!