[Molvis-list] DNA jewelry

Robert M. Horton, PhD rmhorton at attotron.com
Wed Dec 8 15:39:50 EST 2004

Eric Martz wrote:

> ... K-12 lesson plan with detailed instructions for constructing DNA 
> double
> helix earrings with jewelry beads.

For those interested in putting messages in DNA, here's a link to our 
venerable javascript tools:

Most of the tools still work in current browsers (except the 
"Restriction Mapper", which used Netscape-specific DHTML).

The "Secret Coder Tool" turns typed messages into DNA sequences. It is 
not terribly biological, since it converts messages to base64 (with 
remaining ASCII characters excaped) and encodes the whole message, 
rather than trying to use just the 20 characters (plus stop) of the 
amino acid alphabet. But you can encode punctuation, spaces, capitals, 

The "Transcription and Translation Tool" has a suspiciously similar 
interface, but it does not do "reverse translation". It would be useful 
for checking encoded messages that use the amino acid alphabet.

The "Sequence Pattern Finder" does reverse translation, representing 
ambiguities as regular expressions. The user would need to pick a 
single sequence that matches the pattern, but it does the lookups.

For any computer science types lurking out there, we also did a Hamming 
error correction code for DNA messages. It handles single base 
mutations per word (the user sets the word size), but not 
insertions/deletions. The approach could be extended to forbid 
insertions and deletions by encoding a message as silent mutations 
within a reading frame. We never wrote it up, because I didn't know who 
would care or where to send it. If anyone has a use for such a thing, 
please let me know.

               Robert M. Horton, Ph.D.
  0  [] ~ ~ ~ http://www.cybertory.com ~ ~ ~ ~[]  0
  |-/_|         rmhorton at attotron.com         |_\-|
  -\_|| He travels swiftest who telecommutes. ||_/-

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