June 9th, 2011

chels:

I finally got around to listening to this, and you guys, this is one cool world we live in. My favorite part was summed up in this quote: “Life, my friend, is left-handed.”

If you look at the molecules that make up stuff like rocks or other inanimate objects, you will see some that point one way and some that point another, a 50/50 mix of left- and right-handed molecules. But look at the proteins of living things, from leaves to whales to humans, and every single one is left-handed. That’s interesting, but here’s the cool part. 

Scientists can manufacture mirror molecules — right-handers — which lead to some crazy outcomes: 

“If you take the atoms which built caraway seeds – which is the spice they use in Rye bread – take a mirror image of them, suddenly you get something that tastes of spearmint. It’s what’s put on Wrigley spearmint gum.”

WHAT?! How cool is that? I wonder what other properties right-handed molecules could have? Like, what about the milk they mention? Would mirror milk molecules be like grape juice? I wonder…

I have become so obsessed with Radiolab in recent months… well, since someone introduced me to the podcast at the Museums & the Web conference in Philly this past May.

This series is not only crazy-interesting, but you can subscribe for free on iTunes! And this particular podcast comes with an accompanying video that is really beautiful (go to the podcast section in iTunes, search for Radiolab, and the podcast and video will be there).

Keep questioning,
Sara