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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Wear your chromosomes on your sleeve

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Louise Hughes)

A new jewellery line created by a biological electron microscopist immortalises the beauty of the human chromosome.

Chromosomes are complicated little things, and understanding them can help unlock many mysteries about the human body and its diseases. But they're also quite fascinating to look at, forming beautiful chains and structures.

Electron microscopist Louise Hughes of the Oxford Brookes University has for some time been photographing the amazing things she sees through the microscope. The next logical step is sharing her love of biology through chromosomes — replicated as 3D-printed jewellery.

"Biogenesis is the formation of new organisms or parts of organisms," she said. "I have used the structures of organisms and interesting shapes found in cell biology to create a range of jewellery items. DNA and chromosomes are an essential part of our personal biogenesis and are the basis for this chromosome collection."

Rewards include rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and cufflinks in several stainless steel, silver and bronze variations. There is, of course, XX and XY, as well as the rarer XXY. Pendants and earrings will also be available in Trisomy 21 — the chromosomal configuration for Down Syndrome — and the rings in Karyotype.

Karyotype rings.
(Credit: Louise Hughes)

"We are defined by the genes in our DNA and the environment that we grow up in," Hughes explains. "DNA is arranged into chromosomes. Each DNA-containing organism has a different number of chromosomes and they, in turn, can exhibit a wide variety of shapes. Each time one of our cells divides, the chromosomes condense and form distinct shapes that can be seen by a normal light microscope. The chromosome shapes I have used for my jewellery pieces come from this stage."

Rewards start at £30 for the jewellery (lower pledges receive postcards of Hughes' electron microscope photography), with a goal of £1100. If the project reaches £2000, every backer will also receive a karyotype necklace 3D printed in plastic material, which can be upgraded to bronze or silver.

To read more about the project, head to the Human Chromosome Jewellery Collection Kickstarter page.

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