March 1, 2019

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Shaban Ali

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Featured Links

Screengrab via MITx Biology

Screengrab via MITx Biology

4 New DNA Letters Double Life’s Alphabet »

Here’s something that seems like kind of big news, yet barely made the internet’s radar. Scientists have expanded the genetic code with four new letters: S, B, P, and Z. Matthew Warren of Scientific American has the story:

Normally, as a pair of DNA strands twist around each other in a double helix, the chemicals on each strand pair up: A bonds to T, and C bonds with G.

For a long time, scientists have tried to add more pairs of these chemicals, also known as bases, to this genetic code. For example, Benner first created ‘unnatural’ bases in the 1980s. Other groups have followed, with Romesberg’s lab making headlines in 2014 after inserting a pair of unnatural bases into a living cell.

But the latest study is the first to systematically demonstrate that the complementary unnatural bases recognise and bind to each other, and that the double helix that they form holds its structure.

It’s worth pointing out that these 4 new nucleotides are synthetic, not ones that naturally occur in DNA. They are simply capable of attaching to DNA and faithfully transcribed into RNA. Still, a very cool development that may have profound effects on genetic science in the future.

Photo: Alex Jiang

Photo: Alex Jiang

Apple Highlights Best Photos Shot on iPhone Around the World »

Apple recently announced the winners of their “Shot on iPhone” contest, each with their Instagram handle listed:

The 10 selected winners will be featured on billboards in select cities, in Apple retail stores and online. The winning shots came from a range of models, from iPhone XS Max to iPhone 7, showcasing the quality of cameras across the line.

The top 10 winners came from countries including Singapore, Germany, Belarus, Israel and the US, highlighting the global community of iPhone photographers that participated. These photos capture colorful city scenery, curious animals, creative reflections, the beauty of the ordinary and more.

Helloooooooo, new wallpapers!

Star Wars: Always »

This Star Wars video edit by… *checks notes* Topher Grace? Is great. Like, really really great.

Chuck Wendig

I have to agree with Chuck there — this 5-minute “trailer” for all of the live-action Star Wars films is quite good and has me in the mood to go back and watch them all…again. I just didn’t expect it’d be Topher Grace’s name on it.

Miscellaneous Links


Neat Stuff We Published This Week

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.