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Published on Mar 22, 2012
Proteins are the smallest building blocks of life. They are made up of unique sequences of amino acids and the function they perform is dependent on the shape they take. But experimentally observing how proteins adopt their native shapes is incredibly difficult because it all takes place in a fraction of a second and on a molecular scale. Professor of Physics Klaus Schulten and his fellow researchers at the Beckman Institute have created a computational microscope that can accurately follow the previously unknowable molecular motion that takes place inside living cells.
Inspired by the movie-like visualizations created by Schulten and his colleagues, physicist-turned-artist Julian Voss-Andreae and DePauw University professors Daniel Gurnon and Jacob Stanley collaborated to create a series of steel sculptures depicting the birth of the villin headpiece protein and how it folds into its native state, trillionth of a second by trillionth of a second.
Schulten is Swanlund Professor of Physics and is also affiliated with the Department of Chemistry and with the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Schulten directs the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group at the Beckman Institute.
This video won the 2012 Mid-America EMMY Award for best "Informational/Instructional: Feature"