\ Visualizing Evolution: Visualizing Microevolution (link updated)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Visualizing Microevolution (link updated)


A bit about me, since I'm the new guy:

I'm a former classmate of Heidi's from Biomedical Communications at U of T. At BMC, I focused on biomedical animation, and now work at a medical animation studio in Toronto. I share Heidi's interest in evolution and visualization (and visualizing evolution). I thought I'd share my master's research project animation, and talk about my approach.

My animation dealt with evolution, but not on the level of the organism, as we often think of (and visualize) the process. The goal was to visualize evolution on the cellular level -- microevolution -- in the process of antibody affinity maturation.

In my animation, I wanted to show some of the cellular and molecular details involved in the process, but more importantly, I wanted to try to visualize the evolutionary changes at the population level (in this case, the change in affinity in the population of centrocytes). To visualize this population-level view of microevolution, I needed to show the distribution of affinity within the variable population, directional change, and the vital role of time in the process. To try to show all this, I created a virtual population of cells, and used scripting and dynamics in Maya (the 3D software) to simulate evolution in this population. The results of the simulation are shown in a cartoony graph.

The first few minutes provide an outline of the process, and then the simulation part starts about two and a half minutes in.
Here's a (new) link:

Antibody-Affinity Maturation


Heidi Richter said...

Julian! Hey man, welcome! Great post. I just watched the video again (took forever to load up, though) and I was glad to have the chance. The antibody affinity graph remains the best visual representation of evolution I have ever seen. It's so elegant and to the point. I wish I had that section isolated to send to every person who doesn't get how evolution works. (YouTube it? ;))

And the best part is it's all procedural, right? The cells are programmed to mutate a random amount and then die off based on their affinity? So you've not only created a visual of evolution, but you created evolving visuals. That blows my mind.

Feel free to post more in the future; I'd love to have you on board. : )

Harrison said...

Put it on youtube, that link doesn't work. :P