Thursday, October 13, 2005

How I Used Biochemistry to Interpret Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"

This is an email I privately sent another English prof, that he promptly forwarded to the rest of the class.

I had an epiphany of what rhymes with dulcimer...multimer! OK, so the rhyming dictionary says that there are no perfect rhymes for the word, but multimer sounds close, as do its derivatives: homomultimer and heteromultimer. So what is a multimer, you ask? It is a protein with more than one peptide chain. A homomultimer has multiples of the same kind of chain, while a heteromultimer has different kind of chains - Hemoglobin is made of 2 alpha helices and 2 beta sheets, thus it is a heteromultimer. My fall break Tuesday was spent making up a biochemistry exam over this material because I missed it due to my interview, which went extremely well, and I thank you for your constant support in my medical school journey.

Could Coleridge have used the word multimer to rhyme with dulcimer? The answer is a resounding no. Alpha helices and beta sheets were not discovered until the 1950s by the great Linus Pauling, therefore combinations of them to create secondary protein structures would not have been known nor named in 1798. But the description of the intricacies of Kubla Khan's infrastructure does sound awfully close to the intricacies of protein structure, however unintentional that may be. The Alph river sounds like an alpha helix to me, and alpha helices often shoot up in the middle of a large protein for the purpose of protein signalling. Maybe C.P. Snow would appreciate my analysis, but perhaps I should not mix disciplines so. Just thought I would share my thoughts.


KT said...

I know how great it feels to see someone left a comment but man what a let down when the people probably didn't even read your post and they do it just to advertise their own blog. If you ask me their needs to be more people like me who actually read the persons post and make them feel good to know i read it- sure i have blogs but really should i advertise them? I think this is a good point to make.

Great music how'd you get it??? My music stinks compared to yours i used to have barbie girl on my site but really it didin't have the words aand it sucked! how and where did you get it? answer me on stuff236 (i didn't mean to advertise!)

Anonymous said...

I really hope you get into all the schools you applied to. There should be more "well-rounded" physicians who are bright and insightful like yourself (or how you present yourself here, which I assume is similar to real life).
Best of luck.
Ramazan Mubarak