Talk:2298: Coronavirus Genome

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 20:32, 25 April 2020 by (talk)
Jump to: navigation, search

Epigenetics is a pun, right? I think it's a pun but I don't know what and it's maddening. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 23:03, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

...Epigenetics is a real thing—the study of how changes in things other than the genome itself can be passed down between generations. An example is conditioning a mouse to be scared of the smell of oranges/cherries/almonds by having them associate the scent of acetophenone with an electric shock, then testing whether its pups also have the same fear of that smell: they do, but this obviously can't be by the genome itself changing (no component of this has a lot of ionizing radiation[citation needed]). Whatever causes this is the topic of actual epigenetics. --Volleo6144 (talk) 00:12, 25 April 2020 (UTC)
I know that, I added the link to the article. But afaik that has nothing to do with how the genome is formatted in Word, and I think it's a pun. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 00:31, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

since when does notepad have spellcheck? 23:05, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

Word does, so maybe she is using Word instead? Kind of contradictory. 23:14, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

True Story: In the 1980s, as part of the Work Experience initiative at my school, I was assigned to one of my local council's offices (I'd applied for their computer department, but someone else got that). I don't think the word-processor I used at home (Psion Exchange) had spellcheck, but the one the office used (Lotus? Can't actually recall, but it, like most things, was DOS-based) definitely had, and it was very easy to edit in new words. Inspired by the chemistry lessons I'd recently had, and some 'reports' I was asked to write (keeping the kid busy, more like!) that dealt with chemical degradation of concrete under the action of salt and suchlike, I of course added "NaCl" then absolutely any other chemical formulae I could think of. "H2SO4" was an early one (partial subscript formatting wasn't relevent to the spill-chucker) but I eventually got round to CH4, C2H6, C3H8, etc, and then as many of the derived alcohols, alkenes, alkynes, etc that I could be bothered to type in. Which were a lot. By the end I was 'confident' that nobody would ever type any correct chemical formula into that machine (no network-shared resources!) and have to worry about false-positive typo alerts. Yeah, well, I was still at school and thought I knew everything. 23:37, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

Can confirm: virus genomes are looked at in notepad. I worked at one of the national laboratories for a summer, experimenting with ways to check for the length of a gene and strength of genetic expression in various circumstances in E. coli. We used notepad because even old computers can open very large files without difficulty, and all our scripts were in Perl, which can easily output to .rtf or .txt file formats. These files are huge, by the way. If you hold down on the scroll bar so it's zooming to the bottom, you could be waiting 20 minutes to reach the end depending on the number of kilobase pairs in your microbe. And epigenetics is not a pun. It's a real word. 00:15, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

Concurrent to the work in the medical community, work is underway in various open source software communities to fix bugs and other issues with software (eg genome analysis tools) that is useful to the scientists combatting COVID-19. These include the Debian "biohackathon" ( as well as support from Mozilla ( Parallel to these efforts, the FSF (Free Software Foundation) has focused on the shortage of medical equipment: 00:34, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

I’m suddenly inspired to write a DNA-edit-mode for Emacs (if it doesn’t have it already) which would allow for the virus spell check as described in this comic. 04:16, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

- the dna-mode for emacs does exist. Google for it. It is not very useful for real work, though.

Derek Lowe has some insights about actual coronavirus mutations here, if you are interested.

Given coronavirus has an RNA genome, shouldn't all the 'T's be replaced by 'U's?


- It is standard practice no to use U's in public sequence database. It simplifies things.

The sequence in the transcript does not actually appear on the site mentioned in the explanation. In fact, when I google for 'TACTAGCGTGCCTTTGTAAGCACAAGCTGATTAGTACGAACTTATGTACTCATTCGTTTCGGAAGAGACAGGTACGTTA' I only get this particular site.


Well, obviously it's a new variant, yet unknown to other clinical studies. Of RNA that has switched to looking like DNA, so this is a hot discovery! 12:05, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

- The site shows several views into the public database entry that are easier to understand by humans than the raw sequence. Click the link at 'View: TEXT'. and scroll down. The relevant lines look like this:

    aatccagtaa tggaaccaat ttatgatgaa ccgacgacga ctactagcgt gcctttgtaa     26220
    gcacaagctg attagtacga acttatgtac tcattcgttt cggaagagac aggtacgtta     26280

As you can see, these are not meant to be search for and compared in "a notepad". For the same reason, google does not index DNA sequence database entries. There are specialised tools for that.

The sequnces were published this month, so they are available only in the most recent sequence database updates.


I have had trouble opening .txt files of even a hundred KB in Notepad! Sometimes it even crashes... It's one of the reasons I started using Notepad++. Notepad++ also happens to have a very extensible spellcheck, & language-specific formatting options. Since I often need to use Windows machines, it's one of my most frequently installed apps, after 7Zip. ProphetZarquon (talk) 18:03, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

The Grammar Checker concept only has a limited analytical sophistication, though I don't doubt it'd still be enough to get a Nobel given the complexity of the task of deriving trivially feasible sequences from total codswallop. I also added the "next step" (probably much more than a single step), when I revised things, but that might actually be overstepping the explanation of the comic and removable. 20:32, 25 April 2020 (UTC)