The Happiness Protein Debunked

 Recently, a meme of a supposed protein with ‘legs” that looks like it’s happily carrying the weight of the world on its shoulders went viral on Twitter.  Since the first post on Twitter and Imgur, the GIF has been dubbed as the Happiness Protein. It has been shared hundreds of thousands of times. Sometimes set to music, sometimes just on it’s own with the caption regurgitated.

happiness protein

However, is this GIF real? Can we record single proteins and see what happiness really looks like?

Sadly not. Though we have come very far in the proteomics field of study, Scientists have had yet to be able to single out a single protein. Additionally, they have been unable to film a single protein moving in such HD. This is actually an animation from a short film created by two Harvard grad students called “The Inner Life of the Cell.” 

John Lieber, one of the students who created the film, wrote that the protein was only meant to get a few seconds of screen time. However, one of the animators who worked on the project liked the animation so much that he decided to give it the full-resolution personality that we know today.

The GIF has warranted quite a lot of debate from scientists.

Regardless of these debates, “The Inner Life of the Cell” is both gorgeous and important for visualizing biological research.

We suggest that you check out the original animation. Though it’s just that, an animation, the video still shows an interesting portrayal of what the inner workings of  a cell might look like. Also, it’s just visually very aesthetically pleasing. 

You can watch it here.

To keep the GIF alive, here are our favorite video complications of the “happiness protein” strutting its stuff:


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