When Apple released the iPod, perhaps the company knew that it would become an important scientific vessel. Or perhaps not. Be that as it may, the Sydney Morning Herald has a fascinating report today on how an Australian scientist is using his iPod as just that, a vessel to carry scientific data from Mac to Mac. In this particular case, itis nothing less than the entire human genome. From the report:
While a couple of million people now carry the little white box with the tuning wheel to provide music wherever they go, Dr. Will Gilbert, one of the leading technologists in the genetics industry in the US, uses his iPod to carry the entire human genome wherever he goes. It is suspected he has a few tunes on there as well something like Mozartis clarinet concerto but the main purpose of his iPod is to transport the three billion chemical letters of the genome that describe a personis genetic code or DNA from one laboratory to another.
"I wanted to run a project down the hall on another Mac," says Gilbert. "Rather than copy it across the network, I got into the habit of pulling out my iPod, plugging it in and then, drag, drop, zip, boom, bang, transfer the file and walk it down the hall."
Weire in the post-genomic era," Gilbert said in a recent US interview. "Scientists have already cracked the code of the human genome, the genetic book of life that contains instructions for building and running a human body, so weire closer to understanding what makes us who we are. We also have pretty big chunks of genomes from fairly closely related organisms, and weire just beginning to look at rice, pig, cow and chimpanzee. We need a way to line those up to compare them, and Apple/Genentech BLAST is the just the ticket."
So now, when you write an e-mail on your Macintosh, or transfer the latest hit song from a CD to an iPod, donit just dance to the music; remember you are using the tools of a science that is exploring the meaning of life.
There is more in the full story, including many positive comments about Apple and the Mac in science. We recommend it as a good read.