Perhaps you’ve heard of astroporn, those gorgeous, glowing images of planets and galaxies and pillars of gas found on Web sites like Astronomy Picture of the Day (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html). But what if you’re looking for something, say, a bit more intimate? What if your tastes run a wee bit smaller than the universe? Rejoice, because microporn exists. too. The Protein Data Bank has its own Molecule of the Month collection, illustrated by David S. Goodsell, an assistant professor of molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, at http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/molecules/molecule_list.html. At last, you’ll be able to see insulin and serum albumin in all their naked glory. Or perhaps you’d prefer to gaze at bacteriophage phiX174 or the p53 Tumor Suppressor? Each illustration includes an understandable and clear introduction to the molecule’s structure and function, as well as a discussion of its importance to human health and welfare. Even if you’re not into molecular biology, you’ll find that small can be beautiful, too.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 2/25/2003.
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