Unicode have announced a new release of 157 emojis, and initially, scientists rejoiced – they would finally have a test tube, petri dish and DNA icons to message each other.
But being the smart bunch they are, they quickly noticed there was something amiss with the sample image for the new DNA emoticon.
You’d be forgiven for not spotting it yourself, but if you look closely, the DNA is spinning the wrong way.
It’s left-handed, which the majority of DNA in nature is not.
Let’s wind back to biology class for a minute.
The double helix is formed of two strands of DNA twisted in a specific way.
It can take a variety of different forms, but most commonly, it’s right-handed “B-DNA”.
But the emoji isn’t B-DNA, it’s Z-DNA.
Although it’s a 2D image, you can tell at the points where the strands cross each other that they’re going in a clockwise direction, making the emoji left-handed DNA – uncommon in nature and not representative of the bog-standard DNA that makes us, us.
If you zoom in, the right strand clearly crosses the left, meaning the strands go upwards in a clockwise direction.
You can see the difference between that and the animation of normal right-handed B-DNA below.
Is there that much to worry about though?
Although seemingly small, it’s a common error that just really seems to get to scientists.
The Unicode update won’t be on phones until August or September, so providers such as Android and Apple still have time to adapt their own designs.
For the future of scientific discovery, let’s hope they do.