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Molecular Models at the Movies

Models at the Movies Indigo® Instruments isn't only about supplying scientific kit to schools technicians, homeschoolers and students doing their science fair project. No! A fair few molecular models and countless other items have made their way to Hollywood, got themselves on the small screen and featured in some offbeat web experiments. VP Stephan Logan explains how Rob Cohen's 2005 movie "Stealth" is described on the Internet Movie Database as "Surprisingly enjoyable". Why? Because a plot line based on three pilots deeply ensconced in a top-secret military program struggling to bring an artificial intelligence program under control before it initiates WWIII sounds just so unsurprising. The movie features intense action, violence and innuendo. But, far more excitingly it also features a 17-layer DNA model from Indigo.

So, for what was it those pilots needed a model of DNA? You'll have to watch the movie to find out. One of Indigo's "anatomically correct" 12-layer DNA models also features in the current hit movie "Fantastic Four." In this marvelous piece of cinema, a group of astronauts gain superpowers after being exposed to cosmic radiation (yeah, right!) and are destined to use them in fighting the world-dominating plans of the evil Doctor Victor Von Doom. They couldn't have thought of a more corny name for the villain, but at least the DNA molecular model used in the movie is scientifically accurate, having been built to the highest specifications by Indigo's Logan himself. Once again, superheroes are the subject of another movie to feature molecular model kits supplied to Hollywood by Indigo Instruments.

In "Return of Zoom", a movie based on the graphic novel "Zoom's Academy for the Super Gifted" by Jason Lethcoe, an unpopular high school girl sent to superhero school by her "mysterious" father and discovers her hidden talents (a la Harry Potter, methinks). The makers of this movie, also utilized a DNA model from Indigo to reveal the inner workings of human genetics at the molecular level. Unfortunately, for Indigo's image, the director asked for the model to be specially made so that it would fall apart easily. Don't ask why, you'll have to go see the movie. Needless to say, any models you buy from Indigo Instruments will be made to far more exacting standards and are guaranteed not to fall apart! Stepping back from the superheroes, Indigo® Instruments was proud also to provide a whole series of chemical models for the making of Eddie Murphy blockbuster, "The Nutty Professor". Mineral models including a huge zeolite model and a model of the structure of diamond were used to great effect in the movie as Professor Sherman Klump, desperately trying to lose weight, takes a chemical cocktail that morphs him into the slimly obnoxious Buddy Love. The mineral models feature prominently as classic examples of Klump's laboratory equipment. Molecular models from Indigo Instruments have not only caught Hollywood's eye, but arthouse directors have turned to Indigo Instruments to supply them with molecular models too. So, Indigo can now lay claim to having appeared at the Toronto Film Festival. DNA and other molecular models from Indigo, have also hit the small screen in TV crime show "Law & Order", in sci-fi classic "Stargate Atlantis", and on CBS News during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.

It's not just the entertainment industry that is fascinated by Indigo's DNA models. "We've also sold a 17-layer DNA model to such organizations as Bell Labs, IBM, and even shipped one to Erasmus University Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where the SARS virus was first identified," says Indigo SD Stephan Logan. In addition NASA lesson plans such as their magnets and life lesson cites Indigo Instruments as a useful source of powerful rare earth magnets. Images from Indigo® Instruments have been used on countless lecture tours and in science demonstrations including those by staff at Wisha University. A chemical flask from Indigo has even been adapted to make a heliograph, or sun tracker. "We have sold DNA models to lawyers for court cases involving patent issues," adds Logan, "major museums and institutions, such as the Bill Clinton Museum, Howard Hughes Medical Center, Walter Reed Army Hospital, US Naval Academy, Harvard University, New York University and elsewhere, also have our DNA models and others on display." Intriguingly, even the infamous Martha Stewart has bought glassware from Indigo, in the form of test tubes and Erlenmeyer flasks for use in floral arrangements.


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