A visual or tactile aid can sometimes make all the difference in explaining a concept to an audience. The case of viruses and their self-assembly methods is an example. [AtomicVirology] They have a 3D printed device that shows how they work.
The end result is a printed, multi-component dodecahedron. Each face of the dodecahedron is made up of a pentagon with five sides. Each face has magnets that allow them to stick together. Amazingly, once a bunch of these faces is thrown together in a container, they all form complete dodecahedrons.
While it’s no virus, and the parts can’t replicate themselves en masse, the demonstration is instructive. Because viruses are made up of sub-units, they can self-assemble in similar ways.
These parts are great for learning and we love a good tool to help us. 3D printing offers the advantage of allowing teachers create their own tools with just a few hours in CAD software.
— Stephen Graham’s Lab (@AtomicVirology) December 8, 2022