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The Independent Culture
E-mail Pluto

www3.bentspace.com

E-mail junkies can go cosmic at this site, which offers a sort of SETI- in-reverse for those wanting to beam messages at space aliens.

For $10, Bentspace will turn your mail into a microwave transmission and dispatch a carefully chosen 1,000-word greeting skywards, in what the company claims is an "ultimate affirmation of free speech".

The company even supplies some suggested messages as guidelines. These tend towards the theological rather than cosmological: chats to departed parents, all-purpose confessions and requests for intervention in fatal illnesses.

Mail takes five hours or so to reach Pluto and rather longer to go all the way to the galactic centre: compared with Nasa's efforts, transmission is said to be seriously underpowered.

Cows on Parade

www.cowsonparade.net

Could Chicago be the new Milton Keynes? The Windy City now leads the world in simulated bovine placement, with at least 260 fibreglass cattle dotted around town in different designs and colours.

This site provides a guide to the entire herd, each created by an artist sponsored by the local tourist board.

So meet Picowsso, On the Moove, Holy Cow and Site-Specific Cow (401 N Michigan, East Side of Plaza) - , however, since the city seems to be trying to change its image, Al Cowpone is conspicuously absent.

"There are cows on the sidewalks, in lobbies, parks, even climbing buildings and flying overhead!" Click to send a favourite cow-pic to a friend, who may, however, find the whole thing udderly ridiculous.

Music from Life

geneticmusic.com

Acid rock, in a way: amino acids, in particular, have all the best tunes, according to this site.

Various biologists, botanists, musicians and software designers have collaborated here to give musical voice to DNA, by means of various "sonorification" programs, which translate text files of protein sequences into Midi form, and which are downloadable here.

CDs are also available, and may be sampled: try a little beta-globin for a rather impressive choral piece inspired by human and whale protein, a contemplative little number reminiscent of Tavener.

Or tune in to some frog mitochondria DNA. Instrumentation is based on particular protein patterns, "with different instruments representing regions of alpha-helix, beta-strands and turns".

Also available, Vampire Bat - echoey but only vaguely gothic electronica - and Slime Mould, more percussive than dank.

The site links to various places on the Net from which raw genetic data can be downloaded as the basis for further jamming - eg, A Map of the Human Genome at www.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/science96/.

Send interesting, quirky or, at a pinch, cool site recommendations to websites@dircon.co.uk

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