Jason Affourtit writes, “The encircling equation represents biologicalnitrogen fixation, which was at the core of my undergrad/graduate labwork. Working in that research lab (which was originally just part of requirements for med school!–my intended goal) totally changed my focus…So it’s an homage to that period of time, my wonderful advisor, and that lab. DNA has been central to my work life in genomics and has run through as a common theme. So to me, a G-C basepair seemed a natural symbol of that.”
In Moby-Dick, the cabin-boy Pip falls out of the ship and sinks deep in the ocean (emphasis mine):
The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.
Oh my goodness! You are the man that wrote Microcosm! That blasted book ended up changing my major, hahaha. I went from slightly scientific 9th grader, to insatiably curious scientist in about 200 pages. Thank you so much for giving science that initial bit of entertainment, it hasn't lost it since.
My pleasure! I’m glad you were able to discover the joys of E. coli.