It's been more than 60 years since we learned about the double helix structure of DNA, the code inside living cells that controls the building blocks and functions -and even the length- of life. That shape is very important, but it's also pretty. Artists all over the world have taken that attractive structure and created artworks with it, as a tribute to science and as something wonderful to see.
1. England: Life
The International Centre for Life in Newcastle, UK, opened in 2000. Soon after, it was gifted with a sculpture of the DNA spiral designed by Charles Jencks. It was unveiled by James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix.
2. Singapore: The Helix Bridge
The Helix Bridge in Singapore is a pedestrian bridge over the Singapore River connecting Marina Centre and Marina South. The supporting structure is a double helix, twisted the opposite way from DNA. However, it follows the design of DNA with colored lights inside. The lights are in the shape of the letters c partnered with g, and a partnered with t, to represent cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine, the components of DNA. The bridge opened to the public in 2010.
3. Ireland: What Is Life?
Landscape designer and sculptor Charles Jencks has designed several sculptures on the subject of DNA. His installation called What Is Life? opened just this past year at the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in Dublin. It contains structures that represent DNA, RNA, and other proteins. The name comes from the 1943 book by Erwin Schrödinger that inspired James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins in their DNA studies. The installation of the work was timed for the 60th anniversary of Watson and Crick's announcement of the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953. The sculpture is explained here.
4. Spain: Stained Glass DNA
5. China: Helix Sculpture
The Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing has a variety of theme sculptures. One of them represents the Institute's research in proteins, and therefore is mostly helical.
6. New Zealand: Maurice Wilkins Monument
This stone monument stands in Pongaroa, New Zealand, the birthplace of physicist and biologist Maurice Wilkins, who worked with Rosalind Franklin on the structure of DNA concurrently with Watson and Crick. The design incorporates the DNA helix while still evoking a South Pacific vibe.
7. Russia: Monument to Lab Rats
The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia, installed a new sculpture last year as a monument to the unsung heroes of biology research: lab rats. Designed by artist Andrew Kharkevich, the sculpture portrays the rat as a scientist, knitting a strand of DNA. See more pictures here.
8. USA: DNA Climbing Structure
The DNA sculpture at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science was installed in 1992. Designed by Michael Jantzen, it may look like a bicycle rack from afar, but it is both an artwork and a jungle gym for children.