Ootastic: PCOS in pictures

March 31, 2015

30 Film Females: Source Code (2011 again)

Filed under: 30 Film Females — ootastic @ 1:13 pm

As I mentioned in my recent summary of this blog series, 2011 seemed to have been a really good year for film females.  One of my favourites from this year is the brilliant Source Code, which I happened to re-watch (again!) on Film 4 recently and it prompted me to try something a bit different as described below. In this cerebral science fiction thriller, Jake Gyllenhall makes an engaging timey-wimey action hero but the film rests firmly on the humanity of love interest Michelle Monaghan and maternal instincts of US military captain Vera Farmiga.  These two women never meet, but they together they save the protagonist in every way a person can be saved (to quote Titanic).

I’m a fan of amusing gene names and was inspired by Scott Bakula’s voice cameo in the film to try searching for “Swiss cheese” in the UniProt database.  I found the aptly named Codanin-1 whose mutations cause a “spongy or Swiss-cheese appearance” in red blood cell precursors.  Of course, there’s an actual gene called “swiss cheese” in fruit flies whose mutations cause holes in the brain, but it’s got a boring functional name in humans.

I took the amino acid sequence for the main protein-coding section of Codanin-1 from the Ensembl genome browser (which has better formatting and, incidentally, is where my husband works) and found the hidden message highlighted in red (the other colours show unimportant genomic features, but I thought it looked pretty).  I couldn’t resist interpreting the phrase “Try Hard” as a spoof nod to the long-lived Bruce Willis action franchise, though instead of putative futuristic sequels (a la Jaws 19) I’d recommend watching Twelve Monkeys and Looper instead.  I’m sure this isn’t the only spurious phrase which can be discovered/constructed within an amino acid sequence (artificial examples include The Lost World and Craig Venter).  Why not see what you can find?


March 16, 2015

30 Film Females: An Update

Filed under: 30 Film Females, Bechdel Test — ootastic @ 2:09 pm

It’s exactly six months since I previously summarised the posts in this blog series about women in film.  One issue I’ve encountered is that I often think of interesting illustrations for years I’ve already covered – for some reason, 2011 seems to be a very good year!  I also observe that my publishing rate has slowed by a factor of two, as I struggle for both spare time and good ideas.  A recent episode of The Sound of Cinema on Radio 3 featured music from films that pass the Bechdel Test.

Here’s a list of the blogs posted since the last update:





March 9, 2015

30 Film Females: Contact (1997)

Filed under: 30 Film Females, science — ootastic @ 12:02 pm

As you may know, I’m a fan of Wikipedia lists and am mildly disappointed to see the Fictional female scientists page doesn’t feature some of my favourites (though the generic page is more complete).  One of those I’d add if I had more spare time is persistent SETI scientist Ellie Arroway played intelligently by Jodie Foster in the science fiction drama Contact.  These days I find myself more interested in the film’s themes of parental love rather than its dialogue between science and religion, though the image that immediately sprung to mind was the famous The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel (which I would love to see in person someday).  Hopefully it should be obvious that I’ve drawn an alien hand (reminiscent of E.T?) reaching out to touch that of a woman – I added the stereotypical jewellery and nail varnish, but would like to say I know plenty who go without (and men with!).

Honourable mentions for 1997: Milla Jojovich’s alien saviour Leeloo in The Fifth Element and Judi Dench as a staid yet sympathetic Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown.



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