Amino acid necklace spells out "we are star-stuff"


Colette Taylor is a molecular biologist and crafter who makes some rather lovely pieces, including the amino-acid inspired necklace shown here (which I saw in person tonight), which reads "We are star-stuff."

There are certain phrases or ideas which sometimes need reminding. Just to keep us sane, to remind us what is important. This is We Are Star Stuff in Amino Acids. This is a big one for me, a reminder from Carl Sagan that we are all made of the same building blocks, and the same amazing pieces. Not only are we made of the same stuff, it is particles of the universe. This is a reminder of not just how insignificant an individual is, it’s a reminder that every individual is a beautiful and brilliant thing. It’s so awesome that a person, made of the same thing as everyone else, manages to carve out a unique and original existence. This is a reminder that being is pretty much the coolest thing ever, and should never be taken for granted.

The Efforts of a Scientist and Compulsive Crafter

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  1. I was wondering how that spelling worked but found on wikipedia that there is a letter for each amino acid. I tried to decypher the necklace using wikipedia pictures of amino acids but could not.

    1. I had to look it up too.  I’ve seen the 3-letter codes, but not the 1-letter.  If you rolled those amino acids into a peptide, I wonder if it would turn you into a newt or something.

  2. Interesting, but I can’t figure out what “u” is supposed to be. There’s no u in the single letter amino acid code, and the shape of the molecule on the necklace doesn’t look like uracil (the base found in RNA) that does have the single letter code U.

  3. Amino acid code for those interested:
    W – Tryptophan
    E – Glutamic Acid/Glutamate

    A – Alanine
    R – Argenine
    E – Glutamic Acid

    S – Serine
    T – Threonine
    A – Alanine
    R – Argenine

    S – Serine
    T – Threonine
    U – Selenocysteine (just uses an atom of selenium instead of sulfur)
    F – Phenylalanine
    F – Phenylalanine

    Being a molecular biology/biochem major has its uses sometimes

    1. Thanks! Yeah, the U was a weird one, but what’s so awesome about the make-up of creatures is how many little variations there are to tweak the right proteins into place. 
      Also, I am fairly sure this would not fold well. Too many conflicting charges. :)

      1. I dunno how much stable folding there’d be for a 14-mer. Also depends on the pH. The delocalized positive charge on the argenine could do a decent job of mitigating the partial negatives on threonine and serine. I think the main issue would be those phenylalanines at the end trying to get out of contact with the water =p

  4. Everything is star stuff. Literally, everything. There is nothing that is not star stuff. Being star stuff is not special. Being star stuff is a side effect of existence. There’s a Fight Club quote that goes here.

  5. I love the geeks! That would be a Babylon 5 quote: “We are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest trying to figure itself out.” – JMS

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