Cover image for Nature's robots : a history of proteins
Nature's robots : a history of proteins
Tanford, Charles, 1921-2009.
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 304 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QD431 .T336 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Proteins are amazingly versatile molecules. They make the chemical reactions happen that form the basis for life, they transmit signals in the body, they identify and kill foreign invaders, they form the engines that make us move, they record visual images. All of this is now commonknowledge, but it was not so a hundred years ago.Nature's Robots is an authoritative history of protein science, from the origins of protein research in the nineteenth century, when the chemical constitution of 'protein' was first studied and heatedly debated and when there was as yet no glimmer of the functional potential of substances in the'protein' category, to the determination of the first structures of individual proteins at atomic resolution - when positions of individual atoms were first specified exactly and bonding between neighbouring atoms precisely defined.Tanford and Reynolds, who themselves made major contributions to the golden age of protein science, have written a remarkably vivid account of this history. It is a fascinating story, involving heroes from the past, working mostly alone or in small groups, usually with little support from formalresearch groups. It is also a story that embraces a number of historically important scientific controversies. Written in clear and accessible prose, Nature's Robots will appeal to general readers with an interest in popular science, in addition to professional scientists and historians ofscience.

Author Notes

Both authors are Emeritus Professors at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and both are former Guggenheim Fellows. Tanford is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). They live in Easingwold, UK.

Table of Contents

1 The naming
2 Crystallinity, haemaglobin
3 The peptide bond
4 Proteins are true macromolecules
5 Bristling with charges
6 Fibrous proteins
7 Analytical imperative
8 Amino acid sequence
9 Subunits and domains
Detailed Structure
10 Early approaches to protein folding
11 Hydrogen bonds and the alpha-helix
12 Irving Langmuir and the hydrophobic factor
13 Three-dimensional structure
Physiological Function
14 An ancient and many-sided science
15 Are enzymes proteins?
16 Antibodies
17 Colour vision
18 Muscle contraction
19 Cell membranes
How are proteins made?
20 The link to genetics
21 After the double helix: the triple code
22 The new alchemy
Notes and References