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DNA Set to Music! (Part I)

DNA set to music!

This week we are going to explore DNA set to music...What a fascinating idea!!!

Biologist, Dr. David Deamer, measured the vibrational frequencies of the four DNA molecules and translated them into sound. Susan Alexjander's web site, "Our Sound Universe," describes this DNA music. I will summarize some of her information here!

A team "collected" frequencies from the bases of DNA with a spectrophotometer, a device about the size of a breadbox. Once the frequencies were captured, the frequencies needed to get within our hearing range.

Any hertz number of a frequency divided in half or doubled will produce its corresponding lower or upper octave, whether it is sound or light. Thus, a number such as 8.7 x 1013 Hz can be divided in half, again and again, to create lower and lower octaves.

Finally after dividing 36 times, we get the frequency of 1266, corresponding to a (slightly sharp) D#. The question of 'translating' light into sound is more a philosophical one. Sound sped up can of course never be light, since the former depends upon molecules to push around while the second derives from electromagnetic radiation.

One could argue that what is important here is not so much the medium but the ratios involved: the relationships between frequencies. The ears can detect about 10 octaves of sound, while the eyes can only perceive a little over one octave of light, or color. An octave in light is the same ratio as an octave in sound.... 2:1.

A perfect fifth, or a relationship of 3:2 is the same proportion in light as in sound (and can be continued into the world of geometry, architecture, movements of the planets and so forth. anywhere there is a periodic or regular vibration). By discovering patterns of ratios in light, we are simply translating into a sound medium to "hear" what information they might contain and how they relate to each other.

In summary these scientists/musicians, translated the frequencies of DNA and used them to compose music! More in the next letter!