Amino Acids and Proteins as Texts

Molecular diagram of a variety of amino acids

James Gleick strikes here again, this time a short mention of radiologist Henry Quastler (University of Illinois) suggesting that “an amino acid has the information content of a written word and a protein molecule the information content of a paragraph” (page 289).

Visualization of the structure of a protein (specifically Putative Acetyltransferase)

This of course suggests the reading of texts into amino acids/proteins and vice versa.

Gleick’s notes cite this as from a paper by Quastler called “Some of the Physicists Now Turning to Biology” in Essays on the Use of Information Theory in Biology, 1953 – an intial search of Google and JSTOR didn’t find the paper.

Amino acid diagram via: New England BioLab
Protein visualization via:

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