The Sounds of Science

by Roberta Kwok, Stanford Magazine

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"Recently, Chafe's interests have turned to the microscopic world of cells and DNA. As part of Synthetic Aesthetics, a program co-led by assistant professor of bioengineering Drew Endy, Chafe was paired with Mariana Leguia, then a postdoc in UC-Berkeley's bioengineering department. To express the makeup of a circular DNA segment through sound, Leguia recites the names of sequence parts and amino acids over skittery tapping corresponding to individual DNA units called nucleotides. The composition, played through a ring of loudspeakers, is "the equivalent of standing in the center of a piece of DNA," says Leguia. "You're experiencing the process of gene expression through sound, in the context of three-dimensional space—which is how it happens in a cell." The music might help people with only a basic knowledge of science, such as high school students, understand a complex concept, she says."

by Roberta Kwok