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UCLA physicists control chemical reactions mechanically
Date:9/17/2010

kind of behavior; if you're just a little above the threshold force, the behavior is totally different. The achievement was to measure directly the elastic energy of this stressed molecule, and from the elastic energy characterize the kink."

Co-authors on this research are UCLA physics graduate students Hao Qu, Chiao-Yu Tseng and Yong Wang and UCLA associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Alexander Levine, who is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. The research was published in April, also in the journal Europhysics Letters.

"We can now measure for any specific DNA molecule what the elastic energy threshold for the instability is," Zocchi said. "I see beauty in this important phenomenon. How is it possible that the same principle applies to a tree branch and to a molecule? Yet it does. The essence of physics is finding common behavior in systems that seem very different."

While Zocchi's research may have applications for medicine and other fields, he emphasizes the advance in knowledge itself.

"There is value in science that adds to our knowledge and helps us understand our world, apart from the value of future applications," he said. "I study problems that I find interesting, where I think I can make a contribution. Why study a particular problem rather than another? Perhaps for the same reason a painter chooses a particular landscape. Perhaps we see beauty there."


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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California -- Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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