Friday, February 6, 2015

T4 Bacteriophage Art Object in Beads No.2

A few weeks ago, I showed you my first beaded bacteriophage.  In the process of beading it, I learned that there were many more details known about the structure of the T4 bacteriophage than what I built.  So of course, I had to make another one with more details, bigger and better than the first.  Here you can see the two of them together.
The most significant difference between these two art objects is the capsid, or head. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)
The first phage includes 12 pentagons and 30 hexagons.  It turns out that 30 isn't nearly enough.  So, the second phage shows 12 pentagons and 155 hexagons, making it more representative of real T4 phages as far as I understand it.  There seems to be some debate over the precise arrangement of the hexagons, but I think this is the most recent understanding of the structure. (Correct me if I'm wrong!)  This capsid has about 3500 beads in it, just in case you were wondering. 
For the first phage, I made the sheath like a tube of stacked rings (of beads) because I didn't realize the sheath is actually a spiral.  So, for the second phage, I used a beaded spiral tube instead.  It's not quite the same type of spiral as on a real phage because I opted for artistic aesthetics over scientific accuracy.  Sometimes I worried a bit about these adjustments, but I kept reminding myself that no matter how accurate my representation of a virus, it still wont work.  Like, it's never going to be able to infect a bacteria.  You'd be surprised how many times I had to remind myself...
The second phage also has a  more accurate collar shape with whiskers on its collar. Here you can see how big it is.  The legs are quite springy.
The second phage also has a more elaborate base plate than the first with little fibers that hang down, as if it's getting ready to make its move and insert its DNA into its host bacterium. 
Both of these art objects are for sale in my Etsy shop, gwenbeads.
Small Bacteriophage (No. 1)
Large Bacteriophage (No. 2)


I always enjoy a good beading challenge.  So, I'd like to thank Dr. Mark O. Martin for encouraging me to bead a bacteriophage.  I really knew nothing about these things before he shared a picture with me.  In beading these pieces, I learned lots of fascinating facts about viruses and microbes, but one of the weirdest is about color and electron microscopes. It turns out that electron microscopes take pictures with electrons instead of light.  This way, they can "see" things that are much smaller than visible light waves, like a thousand times smaller!  Think about that... visible light waves are WAY too big to capture images of these viruses.  These virues are TOO SMALL FOR COLOR!  Chew on that.  A consequence of this is that electron micrographs never have natural color.  When you see color images, they are always colored after the fact by people (possibly with the help of a computer). 

In other beading news, I also made a Twisty Bits Necklace.  Ever since I finished writing the Twisty Bits Tutorial, I've been wanting to make this necklace in these colors, mixed metals with gold as the feature.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/221506539/
So here it is, a long beaded bead on a yard of silk cord.  It's for sale.  Click the photos to go to the listing.  Thanks for looking.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/21506539/

4 comments:

  1. Gwen, you're a nerd after my own heart! I've always wanted to see a properly beaded bacteriophage. Kudos. I've been in love with the science of these viruses since high school. I'm glad to see these!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gwen, you're a nerd after my own heart! I've always wanted to see a properly beaded bacteriophage. Kudos. I've been in love with the science of these viruses since high school. I'm glad to see these!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those are absolutely beautiful, Gwen!

    ReplyDelete

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