Thursday, February 23, 2017

Model building: an exercise for the hands, eyes, and mind

Today, what we did in lab was mostly based on the materials we learned last week and this week, semi-permeable phospholipid bilayer membrane. Therefore, we used zometool kit to build a version of semi-permeable phospholipid bilayer membrane.
Throughout the process, our group examined how this interaction between materials relates to concepts of permeability, and how permeability can be applied to our main focus this semester: making the invisible become visible. A visible form would be the phospholipids and their interactions with the proteins. We started off doing everything in pieces, eventually putting together the individual parts into one whole membrane. The protein was the hardest part to make, and because of that, we left it last.

            Permeability is the exact state of a given material that allows the absorption of liquids, gases and other chemicals through the object’s membranes. Permeability and porosity, although similar as both allow for the passing of liquids, are slightly different. Porosity, is the measure of the amount of space in the object in which the liquids or gases can pass through. Examples of this would be cracks, holes or small cavities in the object. Permeability is how easily the liquid or gas passes through said cavities. High permeability allows the fluids to move more efficiently and quickly through the rocks. An example of a rock that is permeable would be sandstone because that particular rock has grains in which fluids can pass through more easily than other types of rock.

In relating to our topic on shapes and patterns. The phospholipid bilayer is a recurring pattern in nature. This is helped as it is made with hydrophobic and hydrophilic ends. These two ends form the pattern of the bilayer and it is one of nature’s own patterns. The bilayer needs to have a specific pattern and shape to allow materials through. These proteins give the bilayer the ability for it to actively and passively transport.

Overall, in this lab, by making a mini model of the phospholipid bilayer visually, it helped us provide a better understanding of how the model comes together and interacts with all of the pieces.

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