Friday, November 15, 2002

Yes, I Lust For Watson And Crick

Richard Losick teaches Introduction to Molecular Biology to sophmores here at Harvard. You think when you read this you know what that means. You don't. (Maybe you do if you're in his class.) Try a few of these ideas on for size. Whatever your college experience was like (unless it ended last year) I'll bet it wasn't like Professor Losick's class.

His students watch 3-D animated videos of DNA Replication Forks -- and this stuff is sexier than porno sites, I'll tell you. When he shows two strands of DNA, the leading strand and the lagging strand (which he affectionately calls Watson and Crick) coming together and apart like zippers zipping and unzipping -- you can really see how this works. You can experience it. Sure beats a mimeographed hand-out. And then when you layer on the protein players -- well, don't get me going!

He takes us through the website resources these sophomoric sophmores have at their fingertips -- I'm so jealous. They can read this month's issue of the journals Nature and Science and write about what's going on NOW in molecular biology. One of his students already published in one of the journals ... while she was in high school.

This was just one example of how Harvard professors are using the resources of the Net to make a classroom experience enormously rich. We all came up with the same question -- how do we make it available to people (young, old, rich, poor, national, international) outside of Harvard. Much to discuss there and we will be discussing just that today and tomorrow.