Monday, August 10, 2009

Genome Project

For over a month, the UDX building had been advertising the (at the time) upcoming "Genome Hiroba" (Genome Square) event. Not being able to easily read the poster, I had no idea what this was.

Turns out it was a free 2-day event by a number of companies and groups investigating the DNA composition of various creatures, human and otherwise. The event included experiments for children, and exhibits for adults. While there was at least one genetics test that a few people took, I skipped it and therefore only know that the others were wearing band aids over a patch of their arms, and don't really know if needles had been involved. A different exhibit had people guiding a stuffed toy mouse on a wire through a maze while the instructor pushed buttons to open and close sliding doors for the "mouse" to pass through (obviously a psychology test). A few feet away, a real mouse in a glass cage watched on and kept up running commentary (not being able to speak ratanese, I wasn't able to follow most of what he said, ignoring the obvious dialect issues on top of it all. All I could catch was "amateurs", repeated over and over.)

What was really fascinating about all this (beyond the photos of flies, flatworms and bacteria, which I did find attractive) was the fact that the entire event was put on to display to the public the current state of genetic science. Freebies included copies of Genome Science magazine (in Japanese-only), various fliers and advertising for the exhibiting companies, and a poster of the human genetic map as it is currently understood. It was a very popular event and was well-attended. I can't imagine something like this being successful in the U.S.

I really wish this kind of event had been presented when I was a kid, although I doubt I would have been smart enough to understand it at that age.

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