By Kate Dalke
Important though they may be, databases of biological information can seem hard to navigate, overwhelming in size, and a little dry.
That’s why an artist in California created “Molecule of the Month”—a lively introduction to the Protein Data Bank, an online archive of three-dimensional information about the structures of proteins.
Each month, visitors to the site can read in plain English about one of the proteins in the bank and view a rendering of the molecule’s structure. The writer/artist is David Goodsell of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.
He features proteins that play a role in human life and health, such as an anthrax toxin, poliovirus, or an estrogen receptor.
Goodsell creates his colorful pastel illustrations on the computer. He prefers flat colors and black outlines to simplify the look of the molecule.
This gives the viewer a “feeling for the overall shape and form of the molecule, but you can still see all the individual atoms,” he says.
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