Everyday Zoë Waller posts a drawing of a molecule on her twitter feed. A quick trawl pulls up others who do similar. But Zoë’s uses a rather unusual canvass … herself. She doesn’t graffiti herself with ink, instead she takes advantage of her unusual skin.
Zoë has dermatographia, a condition which results in her skin releasing histamines in response to physical pressure. This manifests as an apparent mild allergic response, with localised swelling when she scratches herself. The effect fadesafter about 30 minutes, but that’s plenty of time to use a her favourite bamboo skewer, or tablet stylus to doodle a molecule on her skin.
And the results are fascinating insight into the molecules that Zoë, as a chemical biologist comes across.
There’s allicin the molecule responsible for garlic smells.
Capsaicin for those that like it hot,
and lycopene, the red pigment from tomatoes
She’s also done macromolecules,
or the intricate oxytocin.