Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Virtual Molecules Nail Bacteria's Weapon," by Dana Mackenzie. Science, 2 February 2001

Mackenzie describes results obtained by mathematicians and biologists at MIT about predicting how proteins will fold. The shape that a protein folds into is necessary to know the protein's function. Most existing methods characterizing protein folding take much too long. The MIT team has developed a computer program that correctly identified when candidate proteins would fold into a b helix---a structure "almost surely up to no good." The team's efforts were announced by Bonnie Berger at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January 2001.

--- Michael Breen