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Biotech’s First Musical Instrument Plays Proteins Like Piano Keys [Slide Show]

A biophysicist and composer have banded together to create a music box that turns biology into sound

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Zayner and Trigueros first showcased their composition at a two-day installation hosted by the University of Chicago Arts|Science Initiative . The room filled with the sounds of the chromochord and projected blue visual interpretations.....[ More ]

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Zayner teamed up with composer Francisco Castillo Trigueros to work on a composition for the chromochord. Zayner has lip and ear piercings, along with a large cross tattoo on his chest whereas Trigueros wears V-neck sweaters and collared shirts, and is often mistaken for the scientist.....[ More ]

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Zayner’s second prototype replaces physical buttons with a preprogrammed composition that triggers the proteins almost like a player piano triggers piano keys. Over the course of a few days the proteins deteriorate and the music distorts until it fades to noise.....[ More ]

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The chromochord is based on Zayner’s research on light-, oxygen-, and voltage-sensing (LOV) proteins. Found across the natural world, the activity of these proteins is most apparent in plants.....[ More ]

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The chromochord holds 12 vials, each paired to a different electronic sound. When blue light shines on one vial the proteins inside swell, which changes the wavelength of light they absorb. A spectrophotometer, which reads light waves, then measures the change in wavelength and prompts the Arduino to play the sounds.....[ More ]

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The chromochord is the first musical instrument powered by biotechnology. Josiah Zayner, a biophysicist at the University of Chicago, bioengineered a unique set of light-responsive proteins at his home laboratory.....[ More ]

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