Monday, August 20, 2007

protein architecture

I'm back home, trying to adapt to the real world and the British "summer".

One of many things that struck me about venice is that it is one of the very few "parallel universe" experiences available in this universe. As the whole infrastructure depends on water transport, there is an endless supply of "mutant" functionalities to observe, from the speed-boat ambulance through to the waterborne fruit stalls and the rather obscenely big yachts of the finance administration. It feels like Philipp Pullman's parallel Universe in "Northern Lights" where zeppelins ruled the air transport business. I kept looking out for zeppelins in venice, but there weren't any.

one of the venetian sights I knew about for many years but now had the chance to see first hand is the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. My PhD supervisor once gave or sent me a picture postcard with this famous staircase:

Which of course will leave any protein scientist scratching their head in disbelief. I mean how could the Renaissance architects know exactly what an alpha helix and a beta sheet looks like ? This looks so much like a small protein set in stone that it's downright spooky. (It was built in 1499, 4.5 centuries before alpha helix and beta sheet were discovered!)

When we dropped by, the beta sheet was hidden by scaffolding though.

There are more pix on the

italian wiki site

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