Phone app for Bjork song uses computer animation to show life cycle of a virus

August 22, 2011
music
Your bio teacher was nothing like this
Bjork, “Virus” iPhone app, $1.99

Bjork’s new single is all about going viral. In the biological sense, that is. The Icelandic singer’s forthcoming album, “Biophilia,” is a nature-and science-themed opus, and each song is being released as an iPhone app. The latest is “Virus,” a gentle, wind-chime-laden ballad that’s one part love song, one part science fair project. (“Like a flame that seeks explosives, as gunpowder needs a war, I feast inside you, my host is you,” she sings.) The app uses computer animation to illustrate the life cycle of a virus as it invades a cell. “Small viruses appear, latch on to the cell, and inject their DNA. The strands amass and penetrate the large cell’s nucleus, then the viruses replicate,” writes her label, Nonesuch. “The song is complete once the cell is destroyed.” It’s not 100 percent scientifically accurate, though. The cell nuclei in the app frequently morph into lips, which sing the song’s chorus. “Virus” can also be played in instrument mode, which lets users generate twinkling noises by flicking the cells with their fingertips.

Science and technology
And your books weren’t like this, either
“Future Science” (Vintage, $15.95)

Hey, geeks need beach reads, too. In “Future Science: Essays From the Cutting Edge,” white-lab-coat types explain cutting-edge research in language that normal schleps can follow. In “On the Coming Age of Ocean Exploration” planetary scientist and astrobiologist Kevin Hand explains why submarines will play a crucial role in finding life on other planets. In “Why Rejection Hurts,” Naomi I. Eisenberger writes that feelings of misery and heartache were useful from an evolutionary standpoint, because they forced humans to hang out together, thereby greatly increasing their chances of survival. It’s cool and thought-provoking material. In fact, “Future Science” is so hip that it comes with an endorsement from the guy who produces U2 and David Bowie records. “I would have killed for a book like this when I was a student,” writes that producer, Brian Eno.

Aaron Leitko

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