Mobius Monday Minute
# 13 – Feb 21 , 2011 [display_podcast]
For years now I’ve been talking about how I love to study shapes. As a visual artist I’ve long been interested in working with three-dimensional shapes rather than flat 2D drawings for example.
I enjoy drawing but with three dimensional material you can make structures that occupy real space. In a drawing you’ve got to suggest it or devise a way to fool the eye.
The movie Avatar comes to mind.
Lately a very interesting and very new material has become available that enables anyone with an internet connection to try their hand at forming new shapes out of it.
What is it? It’s human protein.
Now I know this sounds a bit weird so let me explain.
Seems there are some very creative scientists at the University of Washington who have worked up a type of video game called Foldit. It allows users to manipulate a virtual human protein chain into a shape on a computer screen.
New shapes for proteins, something known as protein design, are what the scientists are after. They know that human intuition can be useful at arriving at new solutions that computers can use and learn from. They are hoping that their game might someday lead to new combinations of protein shapes that could be used to cure certain diseases.
Proteins are the workhorses of every cell of every living thing on earth not just the human body. But for us they carry out many very important tasks – everything from breaking down food to power your muscles to transporting nutrients through your blood.
That’s how vitally important shape is. In fact we could not live productive lives without our proteins being folded in their correct shapes.
If shape is a critically determining factor maybe my idea that human thought systems have a right and a wrong shape isn’t so strange after all.
More power to you.