From the recording Songs From the Science Frontier

In cart Not available Out of stock

This song was inspired by the work of Dr. Christina Bourne, an X-ray chrystallographer at the Oklahoma State University Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. Many scientists are tackling the problem of visualizing protein molecules. You can help by playing a computer simulation at home! Check it out here:


Molecular biologists who study the cell
Tease apart the functioning of each organelle
Their minds are down exploring all that microscopic scenery
Puzzling out the pieces of the cellular machinery
To get at how a nano-worker tackles its task
There's one million dollar poser they inexorably ask:

What is the shape of the molecule?
The protein molecule in question
We need the shape of the molecule
To understand how it works!

Quite often biochemists like to lend expertise
To finding brand new substances that hinder disease
See that pathogenic enzyme? To the virus, it’s vital
So they’re seeking an inhibitor to keep that thing idle
And trial after trial makes their brains a little weary
Just looking for the chance to raise that million dollar query

Repeat Chorus

From the DNA to the RNA
to the ribosome to the amino acid chain
Every biologist knows that's how the process goes
And when a protein is assembled, it’s contents are plain
But Nature plays her trick, and she is oh so quick
It is impossible to follow her with any success
Each protien twists and folds until the form it holds
Becomes a complicated structure that we cannot guess
That's why we need to use clever tools
To figure out the shapes of these molecules!

An x-ray crystallographer has tricks she applies
To isolate a protein and make it crystalize
Then she puts the protein crystal in an x-ray apparatus
A pattern of reflections forms beyond the crystal lattice
Computers do the math based on the way the x-rays scatter
That's one technique for getting at this million dollar matter

Repeat Chorus