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Proteins to Music

01/20/07

  12:06:24 am, by Nimble   , 199 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

Proteins to Music

Now this is an unusual site.

Not only is it chock-full of information about genetics, but they've picked a rather unusual means to present protein sequences to music.

Every three DNA 'letters' codes for a particular amino acid, so they have put together music such that each triplet of DNA letters plays as three notes while a foreground note plays a note, which is higher the more hydrophilic ("water-loving") the corresponding amino acid is.

To top it off, they also add some instrument changes, depending on whether the amino acids code for common structure in proteins, like the alpha helix, played by a flute (which so rarely sounds like a flute on sound cards).

They make small variations on the theme for some of the other "songs". Representing a bit of protein with spots that bind calcium, the parts that correspond to the calcium-binding will play vibraphone in the background.

There's a spot where they try to represent all the of the varieties of beta globin between species. It's impressive how very un-different human beta globin (part of hemoglobin in blood) is from tree shrews... and how little even those differences matter to their functionality in carrying oxygen around.

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