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Paul Rosenthal (202) 633-3656

Biochemist Edgar Meyer’s Inventive Look at the Molecular World

How do you use technology to create images of things that have no image? How do you choose what color a colorless virus should be? In programs on July 7 and 8 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, noted biochemist and artist/sculptor Edgar Meyer will examine the fascinating intersection of art and science and explain how he gives 3-D visions to the very small.

“While molecules are neither good nor evil, their effects can be beneficial, like vitamins, or devastating, like viruses,” said Meyer. “Information explaining what molecules look like and how they work can help us understand and hopefully control molecular-scale evil wisely.”

Meyer’s accurate models of the polio virus are on display in the museum’s exhibition, “Whatever Happened to Polio?” Meyer will present a lecture program Thursday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the museum’s Information Age Theater (first floor, west wing). Seating is limited. The polio exhibition will be open at the conclusion of the program. On Friday, July 8, Meyer will hold gallery talks in the “Whatever Happened to Polio?” exhibition (second floor, west wing), at 1 and 3 p.m.

In each of the programs, Meyer will explain how he takes molecular slice scans and uses that information to make his scientifically accurate models. Scientists use many types of models to visualize concepts about the real world. “Now that you can see a virus, what can you do with it?” asks Katherine Ott, curator of the polio exhibition. “The polio virus is distinct from AIDS or Ebola viruses, but for virologists, any contribution to knowledge about one virus helps further understanding of how all viruses may work.”

Edgar Meyer’s appearances are part of the Innovative Lives program of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The Lemelson Center, in residence at the museum, is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people and presents Edgar Meyer in partnership with the “Whatever Happened to Polio?” exhibition and the Hands On Science Center of the National Museum of American History. The March of Dimes is the presenting sponsor of the exhibition, with additional funding from Rotary International and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.



The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. The Center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country's most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. The nearest Metro stations are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian on the Orange/Blue lines. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on Dec. 25. Admission is free.
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