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Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009
Another Dimension

Travels in Gene Space

Julian W. TangComments to Author 
Author affiliation: National University Hospital, Singapore

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The Captain peers over the bow of his computer ship,
Floating down the river of evolution-time,
In the landscape of gene-space.
Gene sequences running parallel on either side,
Spreading, evolving, as far as the eye can see.
Ahead, the future is unclear, sequences shrouded in mist.
But this is no surprise.
Prediction is a risky business.
Looking behind, some sequences shine brightly,
Known samples, from known times.
Others are blurred in the mists of time past.
The Captain taps his keyboard.
Some of the mist dissipates,
And some sequences become visible
In the light of inference.
An epidemic history revealed perhaps?
The Captain sighs and taps his keyboard again.
His environment changes.
He is now surrounded by hills and valleys,
With moving figures all around him.
Markov Chain Monte Carlo robots,
Walking, climbing, up and down.
Some, aimlessly wandering in circles,
In the undulating landscape of tree-space.
He taps his keyboard once more.
The MCMC robots change direction,
Seemingly, becoming more purposeful.
The Captain allows himself a smile.
Suddenly, he feels a tug on his leg.
Looking down, he sees the cherubic face
Of his young son, looking up at him.
“Can we play football, daddy?”

Dr Tang is a clinical and academic virologist with an interest in viral molecular epidemiology and evolution, particularly how sequence analysis with phylogenetic techniques may enhance our understanding of how outbreaks and epidemics may arise and evolve.


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1504.080823

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Table of Contents – Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009

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Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Julian W. Tang, Division of Microbiology/Molecular Diagnostic Centre, Department of Laboratory Medicine, National University Hospital, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Rd, Singapore 119074

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Page created: December 10, 2010
Page updated: December 10, 2010
Page reviewed: December 10, 2010
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.