Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

Construction hoardings around the site of the new new Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE) at the University of Toronto have been painted with a wonderful mural.   Back in the spring I took some photos of it.

 

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a rainbow W, a yellow lego block, two workmen in hard hats, a crane, a T, a red maple leaf

This artwall installation is a collaboration between U of T Engineering and graffiti artist Jason Wing (SKAM).  The mural features many things that engineers do, from the things that are unique to U of T Engineering to those that apply to engineers around the world.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, older building behind, long stretch of the mural in the picture

below: Batteries, circuit boards, robots and DNA.  The robot cat is Tangy, a bingo playing robot and one of the many assistive robots developed at U of T.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a robot cat

below: Astronats in space and the Lady Godiva Memorial Band.  The band is part of the engineering school and it will be getting a new music room to practice in as part of the new building.   That symbol that looks like NY but isn’t – that’s pronounced ‘en sci’ and is the abbreviation for  U of T’s Engineering Science program.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, two musicians and an astronaut floating in space

below: The Nanoleaf bulb, one of the world’s most energy efficient bulbs is shown along with wind turbines and solar cells.  Wind and solar energy are two of the many research interests of the CEIE.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, a young man painted on the mural as well as a fancy LED lightbulb and two wind turbines.

below:  The Ye Olde Mighty Skule Cannon is the official mascot of U of T Engineering.   The equation coming out of the cannon is the formula used to calculate power.  Also in this part of the mural is a river and a faucet to represent the Institute for Water Innovation which is part of the CEIE.

 

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, an older building behind, a volleyball player on the mural as well as two students sitting on the ground and looking at a laptop

below: A TTC streetcar and a traffic light are in the artwall to represent the fact that U of T engineers partner with cities worldwide to improve transportation infrastructure.

part of a mural on an artwall on hoardings around a construction site for a new engineering building at the University of Toronto, new TTC streetcar in the mural as well as some musicians, an astronaut floating in space

a small square window cut into painted construction hoardings

Did you know that we share 50% of our DNA with a banana?  Bananas don’t have DNA that codes for eye colour and we probably don’t any genes that produce yellow peels.   What we share is similar basic biochemistry, such things as DNA replication, cell metabolism, and regulation of cell growth, to name a few.  One thing that you can do with banana DNA is easily extract it.  We all know that cells are too small to see and that DNA is even smaller,  BUT if you mash a whole a banana, you can produce enough DNA to make a small clump.   That was one of the activities at Science Rendezvous this past Saturday.

Two young girls are performing an science experiment using beakers and a graduated cylinder. One of them is pouring liquid into the cylinder while the younger one watches.

Science Rendezvous is science outreach festival that occurs across Canada, a day when science hits the streets.  This year it was May 7th.  In Toronto, there were information booths, demonstrations, and activities by students from Ryerson (at Yonge Dundas Square) and students from U of T (St. George Street).

“There’s no place like GenHome” is a project by Ryerson students to break a Guinness World Record by building the longest DNA model.    DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid,  is a double helix.  Although it is a complex molecule, it can be broken down into components called nucleotides.  Nucleotides consist three parts – deoxyribose which is a sugar molecule, phosphate, and an organic base.  At the risk of being too simplistic (because the chemistry of DNA is way beyond the scope of this blog), the sugar and phosphate of the nucleotides form the backbone of the double helices.  The organic bases are in the space between the two backbones and if they are ordered properly, the bases hold the double helix together.

A couple more things you need to know about DNA.  First, there are four bases, adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).  And second, bases come in pairs and only certain pairs can exist if the double helix is to form properly.  Adenine has to pair with thymine and cytosine has to pair with guanine, i.e. A with T and C with G and nothing else.

How would you build a DNA model?  The Ryerson University students wanted to get people involved in the project and if you were at Science Rendezvous, you could have become part of their DNA model.

below: Bases need partners and so do you !  Find a partner and take a spin.
Are the two of you A & T or G & C?

A young woman is standing beside a spinner with AT and GC being the possible landing places. She is talking to a couple who have spun and landed on GC

below: Next, have your picture taken with your base letter.

A young woman has her picture taken with a large orange letter A on a blue square.

A few moments later your picture is printed and ready to attach to the DNA model.

below: My partner for the activity adds his G (toe to toe with my C).

People making a DNA model using photos that volunteers have had taken of themselves with one of the letter of DNA. The four letters are A, C, T, and G. They are the nucleosides that make up DNA

I don’t know how long the DNA model is at this point.  I was hoping that there would be some information online but nothing has shown up yet.

Also, If you want to try extracting the DNA from a banana, the instructions are online at numerous sites including Scientific American.  You will need a banana, water, salt, detergent, rubbing alcohol, and a coffee filter.  Have fun!

 

***  a little breather after all that molecular biology ***

below:  At Science Rendezvous they were walking together until she saw my camera and then she tried to get away.  Hmmm…. Mr. Scientist Creature (mutant science rodent?!), maybe she was embarrassed? 🙂

A person dressed in a costume that looks like an animal - squirrel? fox? that is wearing a lab coat. An Asian woman who was walking with him before the photo was taken is shyly turning away, she is also laughing