Science Visualized

A new twist on a twist

By
8:22am, June 4, 2014

TWISTED  Nature's famous helix formation, which forms the shape of DNA, ram's horns and seashells, can be tuned to make hemihelices — reverse windings of the original structure. Perversions are the changes in direction in a hemihelix.

Nature abounds with perfect helices. They show up in animal horns and seashells, in DNA and the young tendrils of plants. But helix formation can get complicated: In some cases, the direction of rotation can reverse as a helix grows. The resulting structure has been dubbed the hemihelix, and you may have made one yourself by untwisting part of a telephone cord so much that it flips and spirals in the other direction.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More Life & Evolution articles