Gene whiz!

James Kent, a mature student at the University of California at Santa Cruz, took just four weeks to write a program that assembled the 400,000 fragments of decoded DNA in a coherent sequence. The work was done on a cluster of 100 Pentium III PCs running GNU/Linux, acquired by his professor, Dr David Haussler, for the task.

"He's unbelievable," Haussler told the New York Times. "He had to ice his wrists at night because of the fury with which he created this extraordinarily complex piece of code."

As an open source crusader, Kent wrote the 10,000 lines of code so the public consortium of scientists decoding the genome could beat private firm Celera to the complete sequencing by three days.

His peers are saying that Kent deserves a Nobel Prize and his coding skills are being compared to those of Richard Stallman, the godfather of the open source movement.

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