Biology is all around you, so most students and pupils can imagine populations, organisms and organs. But from the cellular level on, things get more and more abstract. But life on the cellular and molecular level is at least as beautiful and amazing as it is on the level of organisms and up. To show this I will make a fysical model of an auditory sensory hair cell. The Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group of the University of Illinois-Urbana has a great page on the molecular base of hearing. The idea of the hair cell is that it has hair like structures, sterocilia, that are bend by the pressure of sound waves. The spot where the hair cell is in the Cochlea membrane defines what ‘tone’ the brain makes of it. High pitch tones (20.000 Hz) at the broad base of the Cochlea, low tones (200 Hz)in the narrow apex.
To make a fysical model of the auditory sensory hair cell. I imagine it will be as big as a hand. The sterocilia could be made of silicone. The interconnecting molecules can be fabric stretch sensors. I’m not sure what to make the cell body from. I would like to simulate the changing membrane potential (the ion gates opening) with a circle of light moving along the surface of the cell body.
Jelka Lustenhouwer has made this project