DNA-helix binds people together

Wednesday 13 Sep 17
DTU Biosustain are proud to introduce its brand new employee: "The name is Helix, DNA Helix."

A giant DNA-helix is floating midair in three wires winding from the first floor to the fifth floor at DTU Biosustain.

While the process of making something extraordinary has lasted for over a year, the mission has now finally been accomplished. The helix has found its right place. It's right owner. However, it has been far from easy to make this monstrous installation a reality.

"We had a desire to built something extraordinary, something we could call art."
Søren Storm, founder of Undervisningsfysik

“We had to make several mathematical calculations to calculate how many revolutions that were needed for each base pair. Furthermore, all the DNA data had to be coded into colors. So we are actually able now to show any DNA data in 24-bit colors,” says Søren Storm, founder of Undervisningsfysik.

The helix is entirely custom built and consists of aluminum pipes to lower the weight. So even though the helix is 12.5 meters long and seems huge when you observe it from distance, it actually only weigh 82 kilograms - the ideal weight of a male that is 1.80 centimeters tall.

Additionally, the base pairs are made of PVC pipes with an aluminum core with LEDs. Every four seconds a new base pair is pushed into the helix and the previous one is pushed further on.

DNA create bonds

It took almost five months to find all the right materials and to get it delivered to Denmark. It could sound like an expensive project, but Søren Storm emphasizes that his team did not go into the project because of the economy.

“It was not for the sake of the money, but rather we saw it as a golden opportunity to make something beyond normal. Something we could be proud of calling art.”


But what is really the point of all this? How come it was necessary to get this installation in the first place?

“DNA and more specifically manipulation of DNA is something that everyone in the center can relate to no matter what section you are working in,” says COO at DTU Biosustain, Bo Skjold Larsen, and continues:

“We had an idea of having some art related to DNA at the center, but in the beginning it was probably more on a level of doing something with Christmas light chains or fold something in cardboard. The current installation is way beyond our expectations when the idea first came up, and you can really sense that the employees appreciate that the structure is correct, that there are the right number of base pairs and so on."

Now, there is only one thing left to say. We are all in this together.

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