Sunday, 3 April 2011

Wearing your genes

One of the projects we made at the Science Festival was DNA bracelets - using the sequence of DNA to make a brightly coloured strand of beads and then making a matching strand by following complementary base pairing rules. DNA has only 4 "letters" in its alphabet - A pairs to T, C pairs to G - so it's easy to pair a a red bead (T) to a green (A) , and a blue bead (C) to a yellow (G).


My little people had a fine old time making bracelets based on trout sequence:


That's fun and everything, but I'm a little too old to get away with wearing one. Instead I took two gauges of silvery wire, some glass crystals and a silver coloured bookmark and made this.


Believe it or not, this is the genetic code for "dottycookie" - or rather DTTYCKIE which is the closest you can get if you use the 20 letter amino acid (protein building block) alphabet to represent my name. If you give it a twist ...


Since DNA encodes protein sequence, you can represent words as proteins, and then backtranslate to figure out a corresponding DNA sequence, for example using this program. It's a long sequence as it takes 3 DNA letters to encode each amino acid.


It's the ideal adornment for a book about one of my heroines, and did serve a serious purpose - I needed wire wrapping practice for a project to be revealed in the fullness of time.


And if you think this is just plain daft, I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only freak on the block - Emma Pebble pointed out some truly fabulously geeky objects for sale on Etsy ...

16 comments:

  1. You lost me on the DNA but it makes a very pretty bookmark!

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  2. Isn't that beautiful? Now, what did you say...?

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  3. Oh Val! I LOVE it! You are so so clever and talented and ingeniuosly crafty.

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  4. I, on the other hand, am nowhere near clever enough to figure out how to use that programme. Any extra clues or hints?

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  5. You are SO Cambridge. Are you sure you don't know BigBean??? Ax

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  6. You have completely outdone yourself this time. I am slack-jawed with awe. And now I must trot off and find out why Rosalind was the DARK lady of DNA; how titillating!

    (still chortling at Coffee Lady)

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  7. Science genius! You should be telling the government how to teach science in schools, if it had been interesting when I was at school I might understand your post!

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  8. you are truly brilliant. and you make me want to be a scientist again xxx

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  9. Holy Cow -- we're in the presence of greatness! That double helix bracelet is AWESOME! (And I don't think you're ever too old for all that fun stuff!)

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  10. Do you know, you are the brainiest crafty blogger I 'know'. Recently my boy and his pal needed an 'at home' science experiment to present at school - I knew exactly where to go for inspiration ... your blog! We ended up getting messy and having loads of fun. This bookmark is gorgeous, and I bow to your cleverness. :) x

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  11. I didn't know DNA could be so stylish & sparkly! ;o) LOVE your bookmark, DC ((HUGS))

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  12. You are just too clever and now my brain hurts! Lxx

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  13. oh my word, science mixed with jewellery making - my oldest sweetpea would love that! Fab idea!

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  14. Now that's geekiness at it's coolest - I second Kitty - you are the brainiest crafty blogger!

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  15. wow, making bracelets form DNa sequence, how cool is that!

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