Scale, proportion, and quantity belong to one of the cross cutting concepts in the next generation science standards (NGSS). According to Volume 2 of the NGSS, "in engineering, no structure could be conceived much less constructed without the engineer's precise sense of scale." The authors go on to note that scale and proportion are best understood using the scientific practice of working with models. Read more
April 25th (4/25) is national DNA day. Digital World Biology ™ celebrates by sharing some of our favorite DNA structures. We created these photos with Molecule World ™ Molecule World is a tools for exploring molecular and chemical structures on an iPhone or iPad.
A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard.
While we cannot "see" DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. Each base pair is 34 angstroms in length (.34 nanometers, or ~0.3 billionths of a meter), so six billion base pairs (all chromosomes laid out head to toe) form a chain that's two-meters long. If we could hang this DNA chain from a hook, it ... Read more
Every time their DNA gets replicated, it gets shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3'-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3'-OH and to initiate "lagging" strand synthesis. While one strand can be copied all the way to the ... Read more