References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby kamundo » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:10 pm

Hello all,

I noticed in the wiki that there is an article dedicated to "references to psychology in Neon Genesis Evangelion". I was wondering if it would be worthwhile to compose a similar article regarding the references to molecular biology in Eva too. Off the top of my head, here's what I can think of:

1. The Pribnow box.
The Pribnow box is the area of NERV that Iruel invades, but in genetics it is a promoter region for transcription in prokaryotes. As for a connection, I suppose you could say that NERV's "Pribnow box" served as a promoter region for Iruel's growth/invasion, since that's where it began.

2. The Lance of Longinus.
One of the more obvious ones. The Lance of Longinus unwinds near the tip, which resembles the double helix of DNA. At the end, it forms a fork. This could be a reference to the replication fork in DNA replication, but I can't say what it really adds to the show...

3. The genetic code.
We see bits of the genetic code throughout Eva. Aside from the seemingly random sequences in the reiquarium, we see some codons on Maya's screen when she's watching Unit-02 get torn to shreds in EoE. Maybe this is there to suggest that Evas have the same amino acids as us?

4. Complementation
In Eva, complementation is part of the whole instrumentality/third impact plot. All of the characters are sort of forced together so that their individual faults can be fixed by the strengths of others and they can be one perfect, tangified being. In genetics, complementation refers to the process by which the effects of two mutant alleles happen to compliment each other and reform the wild-type phenotype. Just like Eva's complementation takes peoples' weaknesses and fixes them with others' strengths, so too does genetic complementation. It takes imperfect alleles and use them together to form the wild-type. It could also reference the complementarity between nucleotide base pairs, but I can't think of how that would tie in to the plot.

I'm sure there are other, better connections that I missed that other people could contribute. And I figured this had been discussed quite a bit by now, but I couldn't find any topics about it. I thought it might be an interesting discussion to try and connect the references we can find to Eva's plot. I'm sure some of them, like the Lance of Longinus, are there just to look cool. But some of them, like the complementation reference, seem to actually make sense within the context of Eva's plot.

So, what else can we come up with?

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Postby AuraTwilight » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:51 pm

4. Complementation
In Eva, complementation is part of the whole instrumentality/third impact plot. All of the characters are sort of forced together so that their individual faults can be fixed by the strengths of others and they can be one perfect, tangified being. In genetics, complementation refers to the process by which the effects of two mutant alleles happen to compliment each other and reform the wild-type phenotype. Just like Eva's complementation takes peoples' weaknesses and fixes them with others' strengths, so too does genetic complementation. It takes imperfect alleles and use them together to form the wild-type. It could also reference the complementarity between nucleotide base pairs, but I can't think of how that would tie in to the plot.


This one is a hell of a stretch. Complementation refers to every possible match-up that "complements" each other.

I also don't see how any of these references are actually relevant to the plot. It's not like the series revolves around it in the same manner it does psychology.
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Postby tomrule123 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:01 pm

As an Evangelion fan, I'm fascinated on what you presented here...
Never knew the design of the Lance...
As for number 4 on the list, O_o :dizzy:

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Postby Agent_Koopa » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:27 pm

I am 90% sure that the biology references in NGE have exactly as much meaning as the religious symbolism. In other words, absolutely none except to set the mood.
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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:39 pm

I don't think the references have much to do with the plot, but lists are fun.

- Central Dogma has something to do with DNA replication.
- The displays showing the Angels' "inherent wave patterns" or whatever have something to do with genetics.
- There's some kind of DNA-related diagram in the book Rei is reading in #09.
- Armisael's round double helix could be a reference to a bacterial chromosome or a plasmid.
- A bunch of stuff flashes by in episode #16, when Shinji confronts the issue of Yui's death, with various mentions of biotechnology, including "Crystallized DNA" Theory.
- Hayflick Limit in #20
- Mitosis, necrosis, and apoptosis in #22

I'm sure there are plenty more.

With regard to "complementation":

The Japanese term used in the show is 補完 (hokan), as in 人類補完計画 (Jinrui Hokan Keikaku, "Human Instrumentality/Complementation Project"). This is specifically a reference to Cordwainer Smith's The Instrumentality of Mankind, which is known in Japan as 人類補完機構 (Jinrui Hokan Kikou, literally "Human Completion Organization").

The actual genetics term for "complementation" is 相補性 (souhosei).
Last edited by Reichu on Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby ObsessiveMathsFreak » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:19 pm

This is all great stuff and could do with being placed in the Wiki if it's not already there. We definitely need an article like this. All in good time though. Let's tease out some more details while we're here.

View Original Postkamundo wrote:2. The Lance of Longinus.
One of the more obvious ones. The Lance of Longinus unwinds near the tip, which resembles the double helix of DNA. At the end, it forms a fork. This could be a reference to the replication fork in DNA replication, but I can't say what it really adds to the show...

Actually, it add quite a bit. I don't recall hearing this comparision before, but frankly it's bowled me over. If the Lance's design really is a reference to the DNA replication fork, then this would fit in with the Lance's later role in the merger of Adam and Lilith and the rebirth of Unit-01 as a new SoL(if all our theories are correct). The lance could be the medium or matrix upon which the "DNA" of Adam and Lilith coalesce and merge, as though they ere the acids, and it the strand on which they merge. Perhaps my biology is off, though.

View Original Postkamundo wrote:Aside from the seemingly random sequences in the reiquarium, we see some codons on Maya's screen when she's watching Unit-02 get torn to shreds in EoE. Maybe this is there to suggest that Evas have the same amino acids as us?

Could you elaborate on this. I take it by random sequences, you mean the images that appear during the Reiquarium scene? But what is a codon?

Also, I presume you are aware of the connection between DNA and the Angel's "inherant wave pattern", such as those shown in episode #05 and #09.
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Re: References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby Reichu » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:24 pm

View Original PostObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:Could you elaborate on this. I take it by random sequences, you mean the images that appear during the Reiquarium scene? But what is a codon?

http://wiki.evageeks.org/images/f/fd/17_C037_dpplant-brain.jpg

See the ring of letters? ATCG. Adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine -- they're the nucleic acids er, I mean, NUCLEOTIDES that act as the "genetic code".

Here's the "inherent wave pattern" of Gaghiel:
http://wiki.evageeks.org/images/d/df/OP_C076_big.jpg
Last edited by Reichu on Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:29 pm

View Original PostAgent_Koopa wrote:I am 90% sure that the biology references in NGE have exactly as much meaning as the religious symbolism.
Meaning they're allusions that relate metaphorically to the themes and how they're expressed through the narrative? As much as I repeat myself it seems that most still don't get that the religious symbolism is more than window dressing. But so as not to derail this thread, see any of the millions of topics on this already going.
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Postby Agent_Koopa » Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:50 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Meaning they're allusions that relate metaphorically to the themes and how they're expressed through the narrative? As much as I repeat myself it seems that most still don't get that the religious symbolism is more than window dressing. But so as not to derail this thread, see any of the millions of topics on this already going.


Pretty much, yes. "Allusion", that's the word I was missing. I unfortunately was looking for your topic regarding religious symbolism and the meaning which can be found in it but couldn't find it.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure nothing of the sort can be found here. There's just there to impress upon the viewer a sense that NERV is dealing with very important things here, things that have to do with the origin of life.
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Postby Zephros » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:24 pm

View Original PostAgent_Koopa wrote:I am 90% sure that the biology references in NGE have exactly as much meaning as the religious symbolism. In other words, absolutely none except to set the mood.


Set the mood? As in scary? Bored? Frightened? That's mood. Tone I believe is the right word. (Through me for a loop.)

I believe you're right in that there are there, not to set anything, but to show to the reader that these people know what they are talking about. The religious symbolism has jack and shit to do with the beliefs of christianity. If I recall correctly Anno chose them because the he thought they were pretty(Yes, I'm simplifying it on purpose.:P).*

Example of this. The Sea of Dirac was something I thought was made up, standard sci-fi techno babble made to let the scientists look smart. Imagine my surprise when there is such a thing in quantum mechanics.

This I believe leads me to thinking that all the references put in there, unlike most shows and such, have a strong basis in reality; thus, making the reader think the show is very realistic.

And, you know what? It worked.

At to references of a biological nature. Recall the episode where they were looking at Shamshel's corpse. Ritsuko said the Angel's inherint waveform pattern was 99.89% the same as humans, referencing DNA I assume, though she did mention they were made of different matter than us. So if this article is to be written, I say mention all biological references, those with a basis in reality and those based in the show's mythology.

(Also, would like point out that the matter the Angel's are made of is comprised, according to Ritsuko, waveform and particulate properties. English. It's made from things like radio waves and particles. Hydrogen, Oxygen, etc. Something else that shares such properties are electrons. See Dirac and Schrondinger for their theories, if I'm remembering my quantum mechanics correctly.)

Well, that's all I can recall for now. Though, it appears as if I'm concentrating more on the scientific references and not the symbolic ones.

* Please refrain from debating in his thread about my belief in Anno's use of christian symbols. It'll just derail the topic. I'll gladly debate it in another thread or through PM's. Thx. :D.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:25 pm

View Original PostAgent_Koopa wrote:Pretty much, yes. "Allusion", that's the word I was missing. I unfortunately was looking for your topic regarding religious symbolism and the meaning which can be found in it but couldn't find it.
It probably wasn't started by me, but I've commented on a lot of threads about the religious symbolism; HERE is a post where I link to a lot of other threads and sources where I discuss the symbolism at length. The final link is a RAR file containing a word document where I copied/pasted a lengthy discussion between myself and Xard on all kinds of nuances in NGE including color symbolism, the duality theme, and the religious symbolism and how it's tied to Jung's interpretation of Genesis, etc.
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Postby ObsessiveMathsFreak » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:24 pm

Getting back to the topic at hand, I think we've also left out

1) Terminal Dogma — Another reference to DNA based I believe around the purpose/behaviour of the telemere's at the end of cells (Don't quote me on this!)
2) Iruel — The cell based Angel that actually evolves in real time from harmless growth to supercomputer.
3) The long list of Organs in the Evangelions

While we're on esoteric, gene related topics. There's something I've left on the back-burner for a while which I'd like to take the opportunity to ask about. It is perhaps unrelated to the topic at hand, but you never know.

This involves the dummy plug chamber—with the aforementioned codons—or more specifically, an obscured piece of writing on the floor. Glimpses of this are caught in episode #15.
[wkimg]File:15 gendo dummy chamber.jpg[/wkimg]

The writing is something along the lines of "SUB_______ ZONE". And in #25', we're shown a little more (though it's difficult to spot)

[wkimg]File:M25 gendo dummy chamber.jpg[/wkimg]

So the phrase is along the lines of "SUB____VAL ZONE"

The "SUB" definitely contains a U and not an IL, LI or II. You catch a glimpse of it again in episode #17 next to Ritsuko scowl.

Exactly what this sub----val zone is is what escapes me. I was hoping that someone else might have an idea. Could it be related to biology? Then again, it could also be related to quantum mechanics, as I believe there was another thread discussing the marking on the floor of this chamber somewhere.
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Postby Reichu » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:37 pm

View Original PostObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:1) Terminal Dogma — Another reference to DNA based I believe around the purpose/behaviour of the telemere's at the end of cells (Don't quote me on this!)

I think "Terminal Dogma" is just something they made up.

(Here's the same exclusionary search done on Central Dogma instead, BTW.)

So the phrase is along the lines of "SUB____VAL ZONE"

My guess would be that your "V" is actually part of an "N", and you have a "SUBLIMINAL ZONE", which turns out to be another psychology reference for the list. (And a sort of interesting-sounding one, at that. Good spotting!)

If we want to include Rebuild stuff, a big one is the chamber full of humongous neuron-looking things in Central Dogma.
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Postby ObsessiveMathsFreak » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:06 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:My guess would be that your "V" is actually part of an "N", and you have a "SUBLIMINAL ZONE", which turns out to be another psychology reference for the list. (And a sort of interesting-sounding one, at that. Good spotting!)

Looks like it's either that or subnormal
[code:1]
$grep -ih "sub[a-z]*[mnvw]al$" /usr/share/dict/* /usr/share/dictionaries-common/* | sort | uniq
subliminal
subnormal
[/code:1]
That N doesn't look like a V, but there are no matches for things ending in "val". At least in the dictionaries I have.

Also, that link you provided is giving me PostModernism Generator" vibes. I found a slightly less esoteric one here, but to be honest, I've read theological works that were far more lucid. It would be nice to find a basic reference... or another word which fits.
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Postby Reichu » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:39 pm

View Original PostObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:Looks like it's either that or subnormal

"Subnormal" is too short to fit behind Gendo.

Well, if you want something less esoteric, "subliminal zone" seems to turn up somewhere in this psychological paper (from people at Kyoto University, no less...). (Google has access to the full text, where the term shows up.)

But I think that diagram on the floor is some kind of wacky religious extract anyway (Zuggy identified it somewhere... I think...), so "subliminal zone" wouldn't need to have the most credible origins, so to speak. :tongue:
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Re: References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby kamundo » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:23 pm

Wow, there are a lot more references to biology than I expected!

As for the terminal dogma reference, it could be one, but I don't know what exactly it would refer to. I know that the "central dogma" of molecular biology is that DNA is transcripted into RNA which leads to proteins. So, NERV's central dogma could reference that, but I've never heard of any terminal dogmas. Not to say that there isn't one though.

And to add one more that hit me whilst studying for a genetics test, even if it is a stretch:

Armisael (I hope I'm spelling that right...) first appears in a circular, double helix shape. It later forms into a single strand, breaks off, and sort of "integrates" with Unit-00, and to a certain extent with Unit-01 too.

I forget their real names, but there are bacterial plasmids that can shift between single stranded DNA and double helix DNA. And plasmids are a huge part of genetic engineering for the very reason that they can break off and integrate with other things, much like Armisael did.


View Original PostObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:Could you elaborate on this. I take it by random sequences, you mean the images that appear during the Reiquarium scene? But what is a codon?



Sorry, my wording was a bit vague there. What I meant wasn't the sequences of images, but the sequences of genetic code that kind of just...float in the background in the reiquarium.

And Reichu explained the difference between the Japanese terms for complementation, which I would have never known about. So it seems that Eva's complementation isn't genetic complementation. Oh well.

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Re: References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby JoeD80 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:32 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:See the ring of letters? ATCG. Adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine -- they're the nucleic acids er, I mean, NUCLEOTIDES that act as the "genetic code".

If you look at the "circuits" of the Eva in Episode 1 when Ritsuko is checking on it during initial activation, you'll note that they have combinations of A T C G in there as well.

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Postby planet news » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:01 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:"SUBLIMINAL ZONE", which turns out to be another psychology reference for the list. (And a sort of interesting-sounding one, at that. Good spotting!)

Your's makes the most sense, but I think it could also be SUBLUMINAL ZONE. In medicine Subluminal refers to somewhere "Below or beneath the structure facing the lumen of an organ." This is not genetics but maybe?
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Postby KaaVI » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:39 pm

something else i noticed is the giant crosses when an evangelion or an angel is killed is related to laminin, a base protein thats holds our cells together.

in a way laminin is another form of AT fied but a bilogical version of sorts.
when ever an evangelion or an angel dies or is destroyed a giant cross emerges which could be a reference to the fact that the AT field has collapsed.

please look up laminin as its shape is very peculiar!
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Re: References to molecular biology/genetics in Eva

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Postby ObsessiveMathsFreak » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:14 pm

View Original PostJoeD80 wrote:If you look at the "circuits" of the Eva in Episode 1 when Ritsuko is checking on it during initial activation, you'll note that they have combinations of A T C G in there as well.

By jove he's right! (Though someone is going to have to come up with a larger image). It looks like the symbols are combined with binary as well.

View Original PostKaaVI wrote:please look up laminin as its shape is very peculiar!

While the protien is not really cross shaped, diagrams of it usually are. I can see how this might set people off. It would be interesting however if references to laminin were in the show. Other than that, I'm not sure you could make a connection to laminin in NGE.
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