The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. I am one of about 80 gallery ambassadors. As I have mentioned many times before, we chose the job title "ambassador" instead of "docent," because the correct way to address an ambassador is "your excellency" yet this never happens.
Even though we are a software company, our gallery has a collection of exhibits related to life sciences. Yes, digital tools are used in life sciences just like they are when making a building, a mechanical part, or the latest blockbuster movie.
- Skylar Tibbits // more
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) // more
- Arthur J. Olson // more
- Scripps Research Institute // more
- Autodesk Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter Group // more
- Autodesk 3ds Max // more
- Autodesk Maya // more
- Autodesk CADnano // more
- Molecular Maya // more
- Autodesk Softimage
Most exhibits in the Autodesk Gallery have one thing in common: they are all dead. But how about designing living things? That's where Autodesk’s Bio/Nano Research group comes into play. We are taking Autodesk's technology and design knowledge and applying it to life.
Check out the 3D printed Ribosome. One of the main problems in biological sciences is that the "magic" happens at the nanoscale level. To give you an idea of how small these molecules are, think of the diameter of a human hair. You can line up about 700 of these molecules side-by-side. At this scale, scientists often struggle observing what is happening and communicating that knowledge. 3D printing is a great way to communicate and discuss molecular designs. This molecule is a ribosome, a key actor in the miracle of life. Its job is to read RNA and produce the proteins that fuel life.
At this point, it is possible for biologists to build structures using what is termed DNA origami:
What if we could engineer molecules like the ribosome that could interact with life? We could open the door to whole new types of therapeutics, fuels, or sensors. An example is the cancer-fighting nanorobot:
That device travels through the blood stream looking for cells with leukemia markers. When it finds the sick cells, it opens up — exposing the cell to the medicine built into its structure, which instructs the cell to die. One of the challenges in creating these molecules is that manipulating matter at the nanoscale level is very hard. But we do know how DNA behaves, and the base pairing rules of DNA makes it programmable. By bringing our design and simulation experience and technology, we are helping these scientists create and communicate their particles.
The exhibit includes a set of flasks that reflects Skylar Tibbit's work in the MIT Self-Assembly lab. Skylar studies the self-assembly mechanisms at the nanoscale level and uses the rules and learnings to create self-assembling designs at the human scale. Imagine IKEA creating a table that assembles itself instead of providing us with wordless multipage instruction booklets. When gallery visitors take one of the glass flasks and shake it, the parts self-assemble as they apply energy to the flask by shaking it. The resulting design resembles a virus capsid. In the not-too-distant future, self-assembly will be most prevalent in outer space, under water, or in situations that are too dangerous for humans to operate.
Thanks to Software Development Manager, Flo Mazzoldi, for the passages that appear in this blog article.
The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.
Life science is alive in the lab.