In Sudden Onset, our heroine Mira teaches her students about proteins using a custom charm bracelet. Imagine a bracelet with 20 different charms - each one representing a different amino acid. Some charms are magnetized while others are not. If you open the bracelet and allow it to fold on itself you can begin to get a picture of how strings of amino acids fold to produce a function protein. The amino acids attract or repel each other in certain ways to give specific folds that are biochemically active. But this process is incredibly complex. The protein must be folded precisely or it won't function. How this happens in cells is still very much a mystery. Scientists are just beginning to be able to predict how an unknown protein will fold. To do this, they use Artificial Intelligence programs to solve incredibly complex protein folding calculations - of course this takes state of the art computer system weeks just to predict a fold for a single small protein.
Proteins are the machines that power life.