2008-03-21

How big a molecule???

Researchers from the Venter Institute recently synthesized an entire genome. Not too big, just 582,970–base pairs. They first synthesized pieces and then "stitched" them together into a larger one, then larger ones together, and so on. I wonder, how big a DNA molecule could you make? Usually long proteins such as DNA tend to fold into complex shapes, but chromosomes are actually single molecules that can be seen under a not so posh microscope. Could DNA molecules visible to the naked eye be made? If so, what would be their properties? Solid? Springy? Would they be stable?

There are already visible molecules: nanotubes, graphite sheets, and diamonds, which have quite unique properties. Would huge DNA molecules have also interesting properties up the sleeve?

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