[Molvis-list] Recent MolVis articles in BAMBEd

Eric Martz emartz at microbio.umass.edu
Wed Sep 6 17:34:20 EDT 2006

The journal "Biochemical and Molecular Biology Education" (BAMBEd, 
http://www.bambed.org/ www required) continues to grow and thrive under the 
editorship of Don and Judy Voet.

The May/June issue includes "A new three-dimensional educational model kit 
for building DNA and RNA molecules: development and evaluation", which 
describes injection-molded plastic models with attention to pedagogically 
important detail.  The authors are in Brazil and I found no mention of 
whether their models are available for purchase.

The July/August issue contains three articles relevant to MolVis.

Tim Herman and others contribute "Tactile teaching, exploring protein 
structure/function using physical models". They make a compelling case for 
the impact of physical models in learning. They have led exciting model 
designing collaborations between educators/students and researchers 
reporting cutting edge molecular structures. They have initiated impressive 
model-building challenges for the Science Olympiad competition. A cut-away 
spacefilled model of the active site of acetylcholinesterase combats the 
mis-impression (from ball and stick models) that "proteins are made mostly 
of air". Models can be borrowed by educators from their lending library 

Angel Herraez contributes "Biomolecules in the computer: Jmol to the 
rescue", introducing Jmol and arguing effectively for the ability of the 
Jmol java applet to replace Chime, avoiding many of the problematic issues 
with Chime. This is a meaty and scholarly article, amply illustrated, and 
including a short glossary.

Finally, I personally enjoyed Howard Dintzis' "The wandering pathway to 
determining N to C synthesis of proteins - Some recollections concerning 
protein structure and biosynthesis". As a student, he was taught that the 
function of DNA is to maintain osmotic balance in the nucleus. His 
descriptions of rubbing elbows with Max Perutz, John Kendrew, and Francis 
Crick are fascinating, including early searches for mutant human proteins 
(culminating in sickle cell hemoglobin). In 1954, they were calculating a 
Patterson maps for heavy metal derivitives of myoglobin and hemoglobin on 
the vacuum-tube (valve) EDSAC 1, the most powerful digital computer of the 
day. Its 1 kilobyte dynamic memory utilized an iron pipe filled with 
mercury, in which sound waves traveling between a speaker and a microphone 
encoded the data!


Eric Martz, Professor Emeritus, Dept Microbiology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA US

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