'How to Swim with a Molecule for a Tail'

This was the title of a lecture given by Astbury at the School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., on the 10th October, 1953

In the lecture, Astbury describes how his X-ray work on keratin led to the identification of two distinct forms of the polypeptide chain - the compacted alpha form, and the more extended beta form. He then describes how this change in molecular conformation was a common motif of many different proteins, including myosin in muscle.

Astbury's discussion of how his work on keratin was extended to myosin is particularly significant as it gives an invaluable insight into Astbury's major research interest - mechanical movement of large molecules in biological systems.

This focus on molecular movement was to reach its climax with his work on bacterial flagella, which forms the major theme of this lecture.

Finally, he closes the lecture with some interesting observations on the relationship between physics and biology.

We are very grateful to Prof. Laszlo Lorand and Prof. Monty Losowsky for this recording. Prof. Lorand was a student of Astbury who later worked with Prof. Losowsky on the blood clotting protein, Factor 13, and sent him a recording of this lecture.

Click here to listen to the complete lecture

Royal Society logo
History of the World in 100 Objects logo
British Society for History of Science logoThackray Museum logo

Copyright and Legal | Accessibility |Privacy | Freedom of information
Copyright 2010 University of Leeds