Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Use DNA Origami to cast Longwinded Spells

by Andre on 17 December 2007

We first posted about Paul Rothemund when he published his big DNA origami paper [pdf] back in March 2006. It was a really nice result not because he was the first to make cool DNA patterns, but because the method he developed was so general: by designing short staple strands he could make a long strand of viral DNA assemble into arbitrary patterns and proved this pretty convincingly by making happy faces and a pretty accurate world map (among other things).

I just saw this week that he also gave a talk at TED last March. It’s just five minutes and he does a nice job of explaining the principle behind his work. He also puts it in an interesting context. He points out that using a computer to program an arbitrary pattern that then assembles by itself in a test tube is a lot like casting a spell in that the right set of instructions take material form. Of course, the spells are still very longwinded and require a lot of intervention, but it’s a provocative thought.

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