Saturday, November 24, 2007

Excellence at the

Monado at Science Notes points us to a Visual Library set up by Access Excellence at the National Health Museum [Graphics Library resources online]. Here's a description of Access Excellence.
Access Excellence, launched in 1993, is a national educational program that provides health, biology and life science teachers access to their colleagues, scientists, and critical sources of new scientific information via the World Wide Web. The program was originally developed and launched by Genentech Inc., and in 1999 joined the National Health Museum, a non-profit organization founded by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop as a national center for health education. Access Excellence will form the core of the educational component of the National Health Museum Website that is currently under development.
This is an admirable goal. The web is full of garbage and it would be nice to collect all the good stuff in one site so that teachers and students could use it. I thought I'd check it out to see how "excellent" it is.

Of course they get The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology wrong but I can't really blame them for that since lots of scientists get it wrong as well [see Basic Concepts: The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology].

One of the next images I checked was the one shown below. It's labeled RNA Ribonucleic Acid - A More Detailed Description. Now, it seems to me that one of the major distinguishing features of RNA is missing. Can you tell what it is?

The graphic shown below is called Nucleotide - A More Detailed Description. It claims to show the structure of a nucleotide in more detail. The boxed region of the DNA molecule does depict a nucleotide but the structures on the right (i.e., more detail) do not. Instead, these are the bases that make up a nucleotide. It may seem nitpicky but why can't they get it right?

Here's a suggestion to the people who run the Access Excellence website: why not ask a few biochemists to check out the science before you post information on the site? Would that be asking too much?


  1. They don't show that RNA is made of ribose in addition to the bases and phosphate, and not deoxyribose as in DNA.

  2. The dotted line hydrogen bonds between G & C and between A & T are also annoyingly bad.