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Rhythm of Life by John Robinson

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The structure of DNA most likely inspired British artist John Robinson to create Rhythm of Life, a sculpture with DNA spinning within a circle of polished bronze. Robinson recalls that around the time he built the five-feet high sculpture in 1982, he saw the original model of DNA in Cambridge—almost thirty years after the discovery of DNA's double-helical structure.

Rhythm of Life, polished bronze and painted stainless steel, 1982.

"I hung the miracle of DNA in the center of the circle by a steel shark line. This also allowed it to revolve, and a gentle winding of the spiral sets it spinning within the Universe. When the line becomes fully twisted, and the spiral stops, it starts to unwind the other way, and Life starts to spin again," Robinson states on his Web site.

Robinson had the idea for the rotating DNA when he wrapped a ribbon around a torus, the mathematical figure that looks like the surface of a doughnut. The ribbon, which he replaced by a tube, eventually meets up with itself.

Rhythm of Life is part of a larger group called Symbolic Sculptures, many of which represent forms found in nature such as the spiral, circle and cone.

An animated version of Rhythm of Life can be found online at Edition Limitée, Geneva and The Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics at the University of Wales in Bangor, UK.

More of Robinson's artwork can be viewed at

Birgit Reinert

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