Monday, May 27, 2013

Dopamine Molecule Earrings

On the heels of finishing my serotonin and dopamine necklace, I've continued this theme of beaded neurotransmitter molecules with a pair of matching earrings.

Dopamine Earrings

These earrings were woven using the same color palette as the necklace, and depict the skeletal chemical structure of the dopamine molecule. I attached the beaded molecules to the ear wires at the nitrogen atom.

For reference, here's one of the dopamine molecules that I used in the original necklace, along with its skeletal chemical structure:

A Smaller Variation

I scaled down the bead sizes in these earring versions of beaded dopamine, resulting in slightly smaller beaded molecules. They're about 3/4 of the size of the original beaded dopamine, as you can see in this photo:

I discuss how to scale down the bead sizes in my Morning Coffee Molecules pattern, where I show both the original and smaller sizes of the beaded caffeine molecule.

Left- and Right-Handed Earrings

Some molecules exist in both right- and left-handed forms, a concept in chemistry known as chirality. The most common example of a chiral molecule is an amino acid, which I'll discuss in detail at a later date. I previously discussed this general idea in beaded DNA, where I explained how most DNA is in the right-handed form (B-DNA), however it can exist in a rare left-handed form that looks quite different from the DNA structure that everyone is used to. This concept is sometimes lost graphic designers, and it's not uncommon to see a depiction of B-DNA incorrectly illustrated in the left-handed direction (as shown here, here, and here). Once you study it in detail, it gets to be a bit of a pet peeve (like how it takes an astrophysicist to notice that the globe in the opening of the Daily Show is actually spinning in the wrong direction).

But I digress...

Dopamine is not a chiral molecule, so you can take any two dopamine molecules, and after flipping them over and rotating them around, you'll find a way to superimpose them on top of each other. So when it comes to depicting dopamine in a skeletal chemical structure, you can draw it in several different ways, even in right- and left-handed orientations, and you're still depicting the same molecule.

Since I thought that one earring of each orientation would be more aesthetically pleasing when worn, this is how I depicted these dopamine molecules. I like how this method of creating beaded molecules satisfies both my aesthetic ideas as a jewelry designer, as well as my nitpicky science pet peeves :)

For more of the science behind beaded molecules, check out my serotonin and dopamine necklace, and my Morning Coffee Molecules pattern.

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