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Painting the first of life's molecules, circa 1961

These days, it's easy to take visualizations of biological molecules for granted, what with the easy availability of an ever-increasing supply of high-resolution X-ray and neutron crystallography data, as well as freely available software that render them into beautiful and useful images that help us understand how life works. The lack of computers and computer networks in the mid-1950s made creating these illustrations a painstaking collaboration, requiring an artist's craftsmanship and aesthetic sense, as well as, most importantly, the critical ability to visualize the concepts that scientists wish to communicate. One such scientific artist was Irving Geis, who painted the first biological macromolecule obtained through X-ray data: an iconic watercolor representation of the structure of sperm whale myoglobin, as seen in the third slide of this slideshow of selected pieces. His first effort was a revolutionary work of informatics, including coloring and shading effects that emphasized important structural and functional features of the myoglobin protein, simultaneously moving the less-important aspects into the background, all while stressing simplicity and beauty throughout. The techniques that Geis developed in this and subsequent works influenced the standards for basic 2D protein visualization that are used today.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 8, 2012 - 6 comments

Raising the question of whether flaturia runs in families.

NCBI ROFL - curious science papers (actually good). [more inside]
posted by mhjb on Jul 1, 2009 - 15 comments

A molecular biologist's best friend

Just when you think all government endeavors are going to hell, the National Center for Biotechnology Information comes to the rescue (well, has been coming to the scientist near you since 1988). For free, search everything from dna sequences in organisms where the genome is known to searching known Mendelian inheritances for Homo Sapiens (example here). Also of much use and interest is PudMed with the ability to search and read virtually any established molecular biology paper.
posted by jmd82 on Jun 16, 2004 - 4 comments

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