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October 01, 2006

Visualizing biology

Aftering seeing it blogged on Cosmic Variance and Shtetl-Optimzed, I wasn't surprised when my friend Josh Adelman wrote to share it, too, with "it" being this wonderful bit of bio-visualization:

A brief popular explanation of the video, which gives substantial background on Harvard's sponsorship of XVIVO, the company that did the work, is here. The video above is apparently a short version of a longer one that will be used in Harvard's undergraduate education; the short version will play at this year's Siggraph 2006 Electronic Theater.

Anyway, what prompted me to blog about this video is that, being a biophysicist, Josh added some valuable additional insight into what's being shown here, and the new(-ish) trend of trying to popularize this stuff through these beautiful animations.

For instance, that determined looking "walker" in the video is actually a kinesin molecule walking along a microtubule, which was originally worked out by the Vale Lab at UCSF, which have their own (more technical) animation of how the walker actually works. Truly, an amazingly little protein.

Another of the more visually stunning bits of the film is the self-assembling behavior of the microtubules themselves. This work was done by the Nogales Lab at Berkeley, and they too have some cool animations that explain how microtubules dynamically assemble and disassemble.

DNA replication hardly makes an appearance in the video above, but the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute produced several visually stunning shorts that show how this process works (the sound-effects are cheesy, but it's clear the budget was well spent on other things).

posted October 1, 2006 03:43 PM in Scientifically Speaking | permalink