Chewing Gum and Rubberbands - Thermal Proteins Project
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Chewing Gum and Jello

Oil and water
Oil and water

You can easily see for yourself how the amino acids, trying to get as far away from the water as possible, formed into little spheres or bubbles. Just take a glass of water and put it on the table. Then slowly pour in some vegetable oil. You'll see that the oil tries to get away from the water by making little globs or bubbles.

If you let the glass alone for a little while, you'll soon see that the oil and water separate completely, with all of the oil sitting on top of the water. That doesn't happen to real thermal proteins - they stay in the form of bubbles.

Another thing you can do to understand thermal proteins better is to play with some other kinds of polymers. Thermal proteins are one kind of polymer: a long string of molecules stuck together. If they were stuck together very tightly, they'd be a solid thing like a rock or a chunk of metal. If they were not stuck together, they'd be a liquid, like water or oil. But thermal proteins are in-between: a polymer. Some other kinds of polymer you might have around your house or your school are rubber bands, Jell-O, plastic bags, or chewing gum. Get some of these together and compare them. What do these have in common with each other?

What are thermal proteins?
The next step to living things: cells

Bibliography and further reading:

What are the parts of a cell?
Biology
Chemistry
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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