Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Filming a Visual History of the Molecule,” Jane Nisselson

April 8, 2010

Video: “Filming a Visual History of the Molecule” 

0:56:51 - Abstract | Biography


Cliff Mead: A series of Pauling Resident Scholar speakers for 2009 and that's Jane Nisselson. I wanted to say that the Pauling Resident Scholar program, which is sponsored by the Oregon State University and Libraries and supported by Peter and Judith Freemen Fund, makes research grants of up to $7500 per year onto scholars interested in conducting work at the Oregon State University Special Collections. So once again, we thank Peter and Judy for your continuing assistance in this program and wanted to mention that the scholars that have... this is the April of 2010 is the deadline, we've already had some very interesting submissions for the coming year so the program continues to draw a good crowd. Our speaker today is Jane Nisselson. Jane started her career as a journalist in New York City, reporting on art, design, and Architecture for numerous publications. After finding out about the MIT media lab, she entered its Master's Program with the intention of writing about its ground breaking work in technology and new media. She learned programming, she developed an early virtual reality system and she developed computer animations and visualizations before she finally received her Masters of Science degree. She later returned to journalism as a documentary filmmaker and multimedia designer (not a writer). Her company, Virtual Beauty combines multimedia and film to illustrate the process of research, invention, and discovery behind scientific and technological innovations. Last year she directed eight films for Popular Mechanics, profiling their breakthrough award winners. This work received an online film and video Webby Award nomination in the technology category. So now I give you, Jane Nisselson, 2009 Pauling Resident Scholar, with her talk "Filming a Visual History of the Molecule". Jane, thank you very much. [00:02:17]

Jane Nisselson: Nice to be here and first of all, I want to thank everyone at the Special Collections and the Freemans for an incredible thirty days and thirty nights reading, writing, exploring, and filming. Every single person here made themselves available and because the resources are organized so well, it was a delight for me to pursue any idea, any question I found in a book I could go back to the original documents and look at all the papers and trace paths of discover that Pauling himself made in the original documents. And it was just, you know, coming as a filmmaker from New York, I have my own company, I don't normally get an opportunity to reflect. We tend to be on the run a lot making... going on to the next job so it was a special treat to be able to come in. I want to thank everyone who was incredibly helpful to me along the way. As Cliff mentioned, I have my company which is called Virtual Beauty and we make films and our particular interest is in the intersection between design and science and engineering. So we have worked with Popular Mechanics to show how engineers are really very creative people who test ideas, who build things, who design things. And on the other hand we work with the beauty and fragrance companies and sometimes we're making a product for them which is just visual, just trying to visualize what a scent molecule conjures up for somebody when they are going to buy it but on the other hand we will also look at how a molecule is created or a product is created for a scent or for a beauty product. So that is my particular interest to find that intersection. So by the way, I haven't given lecture before so I have about twenty minutes of film to show you. I'm sure I'll be adding things and forgetting things so bear with me here. [00:04:47]

Anyways so the question is... so I decided in terms of these interests to make a movie about the visualization of the molecule. And this film is not a history of the molecule, it's not a scientific history. It's a look at how... there are really two sides to the movie, one is to... I ask the question "Is making models, does drawing images, does that actually move the science along? Or is the science of understanding molecular behavior, chemistry, can it purely be done with math?" This was the question that I wanted to find out, can scientists... do they use a visual vocabulary in terms of their work? So that was one side to find out about the scientific process. Is it a visual process? Is it a design process? Do people organize materials and construct things in the same way that a designer would? And then this other half of the film is not to look backwards but to look forward to see that if there is a formal kind of design process, now people actually have tools on the computer using models to design molecules. So people are designing delivery of drug systems there, and there's a lot of molecular constructions where you don't think about it such as new fragrances, beauty products, there is something called molecular gastronomy which is based on the chemistry of food. So I want to look at all the ways people have been able to design molecules and using molecules because of the visual tools that were created in understanding the behavior of the molecule. So that's the goal of my film.

And you know, why the molecule? Why is the molecule interesting? For me there are two reasons, the molecule has a very popular iconography. People often use a system of nodes and lines connecting to show an organization yet people don't understand that this type of language connects directly to the understanding of the construction of atoms into a molecule. And the elephant in the room in a way is DNA which many people don't even know... people think about genetics but people don't even understand that DNA is a molecule. So I thought that it would be great for non-scientists to have a way into looking at understanding what the molecule is without going to a chemistry class. And another reason why I'm very motivated to make these films is that I think that science and engineering and technology is an incredibly interesting part of our world. And unfortunately in this country, especially a lot of people aren't interested in science, they aren't interested in engineering. And I thin k many times people see it as something very separate from their day to day experience and they think that they have to understand quantum mechanics or string theory or relativity concepts which are even intuitively difficult for scientists. So by making it a visual story by explaining science in terms of creative endeavor, coming up with ideas, testing them... I think that people can relate to that sense of discovery and creativity. And that's the way I want my films to address the topic of science. Rather than, so it won't invite in a lot of people who don't see it that way. [00:09:05]

So how did I come to the special collections here? So when I decided I wanted to make this visual history of the molecule I went to a woman I know named Felice Frankel who's with Harvard and she's a photographer who's written many books with George Whitesides... On the Surface of Things and I choose a new book about nanotechnology called No Small Matter. And I said to her, I was very interested in doing this, where should I go? And she said the first thing you have to do is get this book by Roger Hayward. So I went "oh." Beautiful pastel images that he did of molecules for Pauling so I was in Boston, I ran to the MIT bookstore but they did have a great anthology of about Pauling which I bought and devoured on the train back to New York. So I went online and I... so that took me to OSU and I saw that there was this position and I applied for it explaining that I wanted to do two things. One, I wanted to start research into the question "How does model... what's the role of model making and visual representations in the scientific endeavor?" And I thought that by coming here... there was this fantastic collection of models that I couldn't believe in the image and I thought that by coming here, bringing my very, very talented team of cinematographers that it would work well for the collection, that they could have beautiful images of the models that were moving in high def. So I thought, it's a win-win situation, I can come here and I can start learning chemistry and learning about Pauling and at the same time, no matter what happens to the film, that I'll have something to contribute to the Special Collections. And I might add, in the meantime a good friend of mine saw some pictures I had taken, he said "I have to come out and takes pictures of the collection!' So he came out and took beautiful... very methodically went through and took about fifty pictures of the molecules and spreading the word about the contents.

So anyway it turns out that Linus was the perfect place to start looking at a visual. I call him Linus, everyone here calls him Pauling. Anyway, it turned out that he's the perfect guide into chemistry because for many reasons. One is he was a great communicator throughout his life to the public. And so it made sense in a way that his special collections would invite people in to help people who don't know about chemistry to learn. So I ended up in the right place because of that and then the other great thing about Pauling (or Linus) is that he was a prodigious, I would say compulsive, model maker, so there was a lot to look at here. So I'm going to go through a few images before I get to the movie part, here are just some images out in the wild where people are referring to some of the vocabulary of the molecule. Here is my introduction to the beautiful model collection here at the Special Collections. Here I am with the alpha helix in the summer when we were filming. This is the canvas setup. So we were able to set up in the area right by the models, there's my cameraman Marcus Burnett who does a lot work for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. He travels... he just worked on a documentary about... apparently dinosaurs... sometimes those had feathers. So he just got back from China, so I was very, very lucky to have him come film. This is I thought would be good to have a little Linus also dipped into culture at New York, in New York City. So I don't alone, there is a family hall. Then I came back. So I came in the last summer, around the 4th of July and did my preliminary filming research and then I came back. This is Eric Edwards who came back in January, he's a Portland resident and I managed to convince him that... he makes lots of films for big directors in Hollywood... and I managed to convince him that it was his duty as a citizen of Oregon to come help me document the collection. And this is Oren Eckhaus who helped with all the lighting and he shot this film photograph. So you can see we had a great setup here to work and we had to, as you can see, we always had students here helping us, watching cool things, set things up, move lights...

So this is just for those of you who aren't filmmakers to see... you'll be surprised when you see that film... it looks very different than setup but basically we set up the models on the table and we have lights. And then here, I was very pleased one of the discoveries, I was just saying how there was a sculptor artist, Alexander Calder who made a lot of mobiles and constructions with balls and sticks. And it turned out, which I was comparing the two cultures in a way, and it turned out that he did correspondence with Pauling, and Pauling had given... I guess Ava Helen gave him one on his books to Pauling. And there's our star! And then this is my... while we were filming there was a rainbow! And you don't see many places out the window [00:15:36] so that was a very exciting omen, a positive omen. Some more setup pictures. So when you see the film, you'll be very surprised at how different it looks once you look through the lens of the camera. [00:15:44]

So now I'm going to go to my movie. So I have about twenty minutes of film. But first I'll show you two excerpts of the films I make for Popular Mechanics that you can see what a finished, an excerpt of a finished film can ultimately look like, where we can tell a story visually very quickly. I talk very fast.

Excerpt 1:

Narrator: There are people involved who are of the pure science all the way to clinicians who are actually fitting people with prosthetics.

Man 1: The range of motion, they can actually see the human range of motion. And we can cut back down in software so that we don't have to use the full range of motion, we're willing to build in what we could.

Man 2: We really like to look at the signals that are causing the muscle activity in the first place.

Man 3: We're actually recording the patient trying to move their phantom limb and this one can respond.

Man 4: And that's really the big breakthrough, we've made enough progress just getting the signals of the surface of the skin through our signal processing and pattern recognition software to be able to control a limb in the way the user just thinks about moving the limb and it responds naturally.

Man 5: A lot of the times what we're doing is putting a thermal sensor and you know, we're sitting there going "you need that for safety, so you don't hurt yourself," and Jessie looked at it and said "no, I want to feel my wife's hand" and he did. He was able to do that for the first time.

Excerpt 2:

Narrator: Well one day literally I was picking up a water glass and I noticed an optical effect that had my fingerprints, actually, imaged really quite clearly against the side of the glass. And that's exactly the phenomenon of exploit to make our sensor. All touchscreens that you see out there that you might see on an ATM, only sense one point of contact at a time. What we developed here is a multi-touch sensor, that is the ability for the sensor to understand not just one but indeed any number of points of contact on there. These are kind of interfaces that cross cultural boundaries that are much more human and it just opens up computing to an even wider user base.

JN: So what I'm trying to do in these films, which were originally telling stories a little more slowly, but I want to bring up the human element to these engineers. One purpose making a prosthetic arm, they're working with huge teams of people from everything from implanted sensors to the covering for the prosthetic arm to the engineering of the movement of the limbs. So that's like a big story but you understand the human side of it too. And same with the multi-touchscreen, you understand that the engineer has an inspiration, he's looking at something and has that "ah ha" moment. So that's some of my finished work. Now I'll show you what we shot, it's just about four minutes of some of the footage we shot in the summer which I just wanted to look at... when we're shooting this time, it was really me just appreciating the beauty of the models. And we had it on turntable and its almost looking outside the model and seeing it. So when I was here in the summer I was looking at the collection... finding, getting names of people, looking in resources, figuring out which books to read, understanding which file goes where, and in a way it started my kind of notebook about what was here. So you can see given that we're there at that table with the windows and that we can set up a beautiful setup that really focuses and brings out the beauty of these models. And as you can see, Linus Pauling made models out of everything, from cardboard and tape to the ball and stick models to the space filling models which you see here to models of water which I learned is called Mickey Mouse. [00:20:22]

So somebody could look at these in close up and they wouldn't even know that this would have anything to do in science. I mean they're beautiful aesthetic constructs. So to me each model is a whole world to visually explore. And when you think about, I guess the first actual image, so to speak, of a molecule was just made at an IBM lab in Switzerland last Fall I think. So you have to remember that all these are representations of molecules, people coming up with a system that helps them understand the behavior. By rotating you can see the different symmetries and the way the different points of view on this structure to see how parts line up, that you wouldn't see if you just saw it from minor point of view. And here's the very famous alpha-helix.

So that was my summer. I came... I spent a really intensive week figuring out what I needed to know when I came back for the next three weeks. So my question was "Is the model making part of the scientist's toolkit for understanding answering questions for himself about things?" And I found this great quote which is in the book by Francis Crick What Mad Pursuit and probably the most common... I mean most people... Watson and Crick are known for discovering DNA but what a lot of people don't know is that there we're always over their shoulder at Linus Pauling and there's a great quote from Francis Crick saying "people have sometimes stated that Pauling's model of the alpha-helix" (which we just saw) "or his incorrect model for DNA gave us the idea that DNA was a helix. Nothing could be further from the truth! Helixes were in the air and you would have to be either obtuse or very obstinate not to think along helical lines. What Pauling did show us was that exact and careful model building could embody constraints that the final answer had in any case to satisfy. Sometimes this could lead to the correct structure, using only a minimum of the direct experimental evidence. This was a lesson that we learned and that other people are looking for it. Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins failed to appreciate in attempting to solve the structure of DNA." So the model of DNA, that spiral helix, the double helix, is very well known but their decision to focus on model building was in part because of the success of Linus Pauling discovering things like the structure of a very complex protein through model building. so they took that technique very seriously so that to me confirmed, among other things, that my hunch is right, that building models and doing sketches isn't just a way to communicate what you're doing to other scientists or to the public but it's actually a tool used by a scientist to understand the behavior of the molecule.

So here is some more footage. It's a little more kind of CSI, it came back. Then the other thing about coming back as a filmmaker, for me, I don't like just making pretty pictures, what I want to do is explain things in an incredibly... the science has to be accurate and I'd like to open every single little black box to get to the truth of the matter. So a filmmaker, if you see somebody on the set, once you're on the set or once you're shooting, in a way your work is done. What a filmmaker, especially a documentary filmmaker, does is do a huge amount of research. So I spent, I think two and a half weeks talking to different people and knowing here from Mary Jo and reading and compiling papers and photographing of hundreds of pictures which I took pouring through the archives, giving me a visible trail before I started shooting. And even know, I have a lot of understanding and a lot of knowledge that I put together but until it all actually comes together, I can't really communicate it to you very well. You know, I understand the importance of the chemical bond and I understand the alpha helix as in a way... in terms of model building and in terms of chemistry is the moment in Pauling's work that I'm very interested in telling that story. But again, what I'm doing is gathering information, processing information, and then filming things in a way as a sketchbook for me to say "well, what does this mean?"

So here you'll see... it's kind of in a CSI manner, if you came in and you just looked at it, the contents of what Pauling had to build his models. And some level wouldn't know whether this was an artist's work or if it was a scientist's. And you can understand just the richness and play of his mind. And he was a maker. So there are ping pong balls, there are pearls, there are all sorts of different molecule model building kits. You see his Dictaphones. So again, the collections gives you a snapshot as to, in a way, the fertileness of his mind that you couldn't get any other way by just leafing through a book. So we have this one long take. And then here was his drawing kit, which again is this Alexander Calder's drawing kit? Is this a mathematician, is this a scientist? Then we open up the lights to the collection. A moment which people here experience daily but when you first come here and you see all the goodies lined up on the shelf opening and closing, it's just an ecstatic moment. [0:29:33]

So these were the materials that I was going to move every day with the help of... here's them now. I was fortunate enough that I met with Mary Jo Nye and we talked a lot about what would be a good way to start telling this story of the role of... I had read many articles by her when... you seem to travel from chemical philosophy to theoretical chemistry. And she was kind enough to meet. So we talked about what would be the best thing to talk about in 45 minutes or so and one that Mary Jo had written a paper in which she thought would be very interesting was, forgive me if I garble this, was to talk about Linus Pauling, his evolution from working exclusively with theoretical physics and mathematics to beginning to use model building as a tool for putting together his understanding of chemistry. And I thought that was more or less right. So what I have here is not an edited version of that thesis or anything edited but what I did was, when I went back over and reviewed there were parts of it which I just found profoundly interesting which I connected to my interests. So I wanted to play you those with the full understanding that it's not edited, they're just sound bites and hopefully showing how beautiful the collection is. So this is about 10 minutes and there's also some footage that we shot of the different models here. And at this point, the attitude of the camera is to move in and it's more able to...

Excerpt 3:

Mary Jo Nye And one of the reasons that I had been interested in Pauling too is that he was working both in a mathematical and quantum chemistry and it was what developed the field called chemical physics but on the other hand, at the same time, he is seen as one of the major figures in the 20th century development of structural chemistry using new techniques from physics which had not been available in the 19th century until the 1920s. And who, for a variety of reasons, became interested in very large molecules of biological significance and for whom to try to explain how the biology of a moving organism works... made an argument which is not originally him but which is very important with him, that there is a relationship between the structure of a molecule and the function it plays in biologically.

JN: So in terms of again my thesis, to understand that this was a profound understanding. And again I'm sharing this with you because I'm a filmmaker with MIT but learning about chemistry is all new for me and all of this knowledge happened here while I was at the Special Collections. And the most... but the profound thing for me in terms of the design of something is to understand that the structure of a molecule determines it's behavior, which sounds very obvious in a way but to me this was just a profound realization, that the way something is constructed will determine if, it's a fragrance molecule, that it will smell a certain way or if it's... it won't weigh a lot. So that to me was a great thing.

Excerpt 4:

MJN: So that for example you can explain the reaction between antibodies and antigens in terms of the mechanism by which the molecule, in its flexibility, coils around an antibody. Or in his work on sickle cell anemia, he was looking at the way in which the structure of hemoglobin is altered with significant effects which in fact have to do with disease effects. So the approach that he took in his chemistry is one that is remarkable in the range of techniques and the range of theories he developed. He then wanted apply for Guggenheim fellowship and when I was looking through this folder...

JN: Again I have to stop a second. You have no idea what tingles I get when you want to talk about something you can actually pull up the document! So when I was talking to Mary Jo it's like "oh yeah, we'll get out his Guggenheim application right now and look at it!" Then for me, again, I would not have even thought of this for a filmmaker and you look for moments like this where Mary Jo read Linus Pauling's words. And it so great for a film about Pauling to hear from Pauling! But to me it was the most generous act come here, which we'll see and actually hear...

MJN: ... I was struck by... is that he explained what he wanted to do on this Guggenheim and he says "Professor Sommerfeld has said ‘to the future falls the task of working out a complete topology of the interior of the atom' and beyond is a system of mathematical chemistry which will tell us everything." And so he went off on he on this Guggenheim with the idea that what he was going that what he was going to do was to learn quantum mechanics and he was going to learn it from Sommerfeld in Munich, he was going to learn it from Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. And as it turned out, he was actually in Zurich shortly after Erwin Schrödinger developed what came to be called Schrödinger's wave mechanics and he was in Zurich just at the same time that two other physicists, chemists, were working on a new valence bond theory that would explain how it is that the hydrogen molecule can be stable when in fact it consists of two atoms that are positively charged when they're ionized.

JN: So now we're going to look at many shots of one of the alpha helix models. This is a ball and stick model. But again, you it helps you really understand how complex the structure is and just to look at it in an abstract way, many, many times and to even think "how was Pauling seeing this structure?" Do you know, was it in his mind even to understand, sometimes there's a mathematical representation, sometimes just seeing the way things connect. Usually you see this model vertically but I thought it was interesting to look at it from... because the molecule doesn't necessarily have to stand upright! So I wanted to, in a way, have a different orientation to make you look at what it was than rather just say "oh that's the alpha helix". So when you're a filmmaker, you take lots and lots of different angles, close-ups, movement around something, and then when you actually edit the film you'll cut out the little jerky-moves and then figure out how to connect things so you get a whole edit that looks really beautiful and to help people kind of have a visual engagement with this model. [00:37:40]

Excerpt 5:

MJN: The most important thing is individuality of the molecules, making the point then that a mathematical description doesn't or can't, particularly large molecules, distinguish into the characteristics of molecules and one of the things that's striking about him and other people who work in structural chemistry in this period is how they begin... there is this language talking about molecules, that is very anthropomorphic or organismic so that they and the language, the papers are full of it, talk about what molecules, what atom likes to sit next to this atom, how this structure of the thing works, how it coils. But it's a language that's an organic, biological language that's used to talk about molecules at the same time that they're having to use both mathematical techniques and the physical techniques, X-Ray diffraction, electron-diffraction, spectroscopy and whatnot to... not to mention chemical reactions themselves... to try and figure out what's really going on in these molecules.

JN: Now we'll move on. But you can see I have... and then here's the alpha helix.

MJN: So the way it combines structure that has to do with bonds at an angle of 90, 105, 107... plus physical data and then building these molecules and making them correspond to those angles is extraordinary. But then also, as what Watson and Crick say in that famous comment about... they decided that they would imitate his methods, that it was not paper and pencil methods, it was building methods and it really had to do with taking into effect these kinds of physical parameters, mainly the estimated size of an atom in the atomic radius. And then the angles that were indicated by...

JN: Anyways, we'll go on here.

MJN: You know sort of back and forth between building the model and then looking again at the data and then tweaking the model and trying again. And when he was working with early protein models, there's a well-known story when he was at Oxford, I think it was 1948, and he was trying to build just using paper and pencils an alpha helix model, actually a protein. And he was bothered by the fact that x-ray data indicated that the model should be made in a certain way but when he was physically building it, it just doesn't seem to fit. And it turned out that he was right, that his sort of physical sense of fitting corresponded with later data that came in, that the early data had been misleading. And thus there's this sort of tactile and chemists often talk about this, not all chemists, but chemists who are model builders, and they talk about this kind of tactile sense of playing with the molecule, of seeing the way it works, seeing what it can do. [00:41:53]

JN: This was a representation of the piece of paper that's folded up to understand the helix and then finally here are the letters from the Calders that we have and postcards. Then my arsenal here and then last, but not least... so in talking to Mary Jo and in talking to many people, in the future what I'm trying to do is collect data to understand this... the understanding from a chemist's point of view of the role of the visual representation. And then finally here, right after I was filming, I went out to... I was working on a project for the Museum of Modern Art, the new school, for symposium about smell and I went out to International Flavors and Fragrances and we talked about chemists who invent new molecules for different scents. And I'll leave you with that.

Excerpt 6:

Man 1: When my friends who are not chemists, they ask me what I'm doing and I start drawing this picture of what I'm doing and their like "what are you doing, what does that mean?" It's like a picture language, that's what it is, this is what I made, what I'm working on... We got nitro musks, these things are really musky and really inexpensive to make. If I took that away and put another nitro on and a methyl group there then you got TNT and so the idea of it sounds very intellectual and complex and then when you have to put it together and like playing Lego with my glass set over there, I have to shake things, like large volumes of different liquids. I have to put something called a Sep funnel and shake it.

Man 2: Olfaction is nothing more than detection of a molecule by your nose. And your nose is really sophisticated and we just take one carbon and move it over, that's a totally different molecule as far as your nose is concerned and they have a different character, it may be longer lasting, it may be more diffusive. The smallest changes can be wonderful, they can be disappointing but they can also be unexpected. Everything I do in a laboratory, in some way, shape, or form goes on in nature or in your body all the time, so you're made of molecules and the proteins and enzymes and small molecules and big molecules, all that I do is that I've just learned how to manipulate bonds and atoms and molecules in a way that nature has been doing forever.

JN: So that shows my research and another... now I'm starting to talk to the chemists and thank all again very much for this incredible opportunity and it's for its just a first baby step forward but without the time to do this reading, to meet people in the community, it would be much more... it was just the right place to begin when I was here at the Special Collections. [00:45:25]

CM: That was a wonderful, wonderful talk and it was wonderful to see those representations too. So we do have time for a couple of questions. Yes, I think I recognize you, I believe that's Judy Freeman whose funding this. Judy Freeman.

Judy Freeman: Jane when do you... you say this is just the beginning of your research of this tale?

JN: Yes, yeah.

JF: Okay and how long do you anticipate the film's going to be?

JN: The way I picture this film is that it will, maybe, twelve segments where I approach a different aspect of the visual history of the molecule or somebody who is designing molecules and I have a list of about 18 different people who I want to talk to show everything. I want to talk to a building engineer, there's a man named Chuck Hoberman who designs these folding structures they use on buildings for heating and cooling and I thought it would be great to put him in the middle of this structure and talk about designing something. So I can kind of tap back and forth between designers and engineers and then... who work with things that you can see on one hand and with taste or have some type of sensorial connection. So I would like to complete it in two years.

JF: Oh my, and then what do you do then? Do you sell it?

JN: Well I think what I'm going to do was try to get grants to complete it and then... you know these days it's interesting, the distribution models really changed. It used to be you had to get it into theater or put straight to DVD. I mean I would like it to be commercially shown, there are design movies like this one called "Helvetica" which is just about a typeface. So and that had a big release... so I'm hoping it will... I would like to have a feature documentary about the molecule. Or you know, hopefully, it can be shown in colleges even to design students and reach some type of education distribution that way. But this is the hardest chapter because I'm learning the science and I do feel so respectful towards that it will take a while to get together, you know, there are different people who are in anthologies, like Mary Jo, who I want to talk to people who build the space filling models, different companies... you know I'd like to go to a factory where they are building these models and tons of them being made and put together. So you get different voices, bring different parts of the stories together.

CM: Okay, any other questions?

Audience Member: How long do you expect the finished product to be, Jane?

JN: An hour and twenty minutes, I think.

Audience Member: That's longer than a regular film.

JN: You know if you get 18 people... what? Yeah, a feature film.

Audience Member: 89 minutes.

JN: Right, but I'll start with 30, how's that?

CM: Peter did you have a question?

Peter Freeman: I was just going to comment, the need for these models is because we have a hard time visualizing in three dimensions. If we could visual in three dimensions easily I guess, there wouldn't be such a need. But I'm remembering a remark made by Paul Barbara [00:49:07], he was one of our greats in organic chemistry, a number of years ago. He made a comment on what sport is the best for an organic chemist, his idea was it was handball because in handball you have to have a greater visualization of three dimensions than practically any other sport because the ball is going and bouncing up the side and back around. I always thought that was an interesting comment.

JN: That's hilarious.

CM: Yeah, Ken.

Ken Hedberg: Pete and I have coffee together several times a week and in our last meeting we got to talking about molecules and he immediately went to the board and started to draw things and I was doing a similar thing for my molecule. You can not talk to your colleagues without adding some kind of communication intermediate in the form of a sketch or a drawing and what you're talking about. [00:50:04]

JN: And for me that will be so interesting to talk to chemists and to you know... people don't think of scientists as drawing, as sketching. And I think that's really great to understand for a non-scientist to have a look at really the actual process which is the scientific process and that drawing is part of the language. So I'm glad to hear that you guys are sketching away.

CM: I wanted to add because I had a comment too about Jane's visit while she was here. When Jane first came here, she probably, even not just for the Pauling Research Scholars but also for other people coming into the collections, Jane probably had the most insatiable curiosity and appetite for wanting to see more. She was always saying "no, I need to see more, bring me some more... bring some more out, bring some more out." And she had been her for about three weeks on this and running our crew ragged...

JN: Yes, I really appreciate everyone's involvements.

CM: She said "I need to see more" and finally I said "Jane, I thought you were a filmmaker, you're going to do a film?" She said "Cliff, I'm a Pauling Research Scholar!" so then I backed off and then you can see the result has proven to be quite effective. So never again, I have learned a lesson from you. Any other questions?

Phil McFadden: I think you made a really good point in your film about molecules serving as tools for scientific discover but I was encouraged to ask this with the comment about the handball. I feel that I use molecular models, myself, more from the perspective that they're toys and I'm actually very interested in this set of that toy usage of molecules. And I'm teaching a class Mondays and Wednesdays where students build protein molecules of things they just find laying around.

JN: Where were you in January?

PM: But I'm just wondering if are you going to be here next week?

JN: I'm not unfortunately, but definitely I'd like to talk to you afterward. That's great what sort of materials do they use.

PM: Well last year a guy built the nicotinic receptor out of cigarettes, that sort of thing.

JN: That's brilliant, that's great. And are you taking pictures of all the models.

PM: We do that and I didn't find out about your lecture until yesterday, a student in my class told me that I have to come.

JN: That is so great, so what is the class called?

PM: Protein Portraits.

JN: I love that, that is wonderful! That's perfect.

PM: But the toy side, I would recommend if you are still in the planning phase of parts of your film to present this point of model sets as toys. Teeter-toys, Lego toys...

JN: Tinkers toys, exactly. I mean in my proposal for the film, which I didn't read but we start out by saying in a way model making is kind of... I mean the ball and stick models, like the tinker toys, a metaphor for creativity. Exactly, building these things with these different parts.

CM: Karyle do you have something?

Karyle Butcher: Yes, I'm new to scientists and model building but I just think...

JN: Join the crowd!

KB: I wanted to say it's an absolutely lovely film. Just aesthetically it was so lovely and kind of like being in some magical mystical thing as these things come floating through and I'm in the library so I see the models all the time but I've never seen them in that magic way before and I wanted to thank you for making that happen for us.

JN: Great, great. That's I feel... I'm very happy to hear that because that's part of the...

KB: We can have a little religion around them I think!

CM: We have time for one more question. Are there any more questions or comments? Then I thank you all for being here.

JN: Yeah, thank you very much for coming.

CM: Thank you Jane, it was a pleasure. [00:54:57]


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