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Model success at Eisteddfod

11 August 2009

Dr Arwyn Jones briefs the schoolchildren on the world-record attemptDr Arwyn Jones briefs the schoolchildren on the world-record attempt

Thousands of people have visited the University’s pavilion at the 2009 National Eisteddfod and many have taken part in events including a successful attempt to set a new world-record for the longest DNA model.

A team of 50 children of all ages from schools in Wales joined Dr Arwyn Tomos Jones from the University’s Welsh School of Pharmacy to build a giant 23.84 metre strand of DNA. This huge double helix contained all of the 1161 nucleotide bases of chicken albumin (also called ovalbumin or egg white albumin) in the correct sequence.

Dr Jones said: "The planning for the event started months ago as the correct components for the model needed to be sourced as did the appropriate sequence. On the day the children were assembled for a brief lecture on DNA and how the model would be built. The children were then split into teams and asked to build small sections of DNA that were joined together outside the Science Pavilion on the Maes to give a final single helix measuring more than 23 metres."

The group beat the current world record, which stood at 21.5 metres, and is now awaiting official confirmation from Guinness World Records.

Dr Jones added: "I was very nervous at the start but the children were fantastic, they stuck to their tasks and built all the models to the correct specifications and then it was fairly easy to join the units together. To my knowledge this is the first time that a world-record has been broken at the Eisteddfod."

The model has already been taken apart and individual units have been sent to local schools for them to build smaller DNA strands.

The University’s pavilion was developed in conjunction with TechniquestThe University’s pavilion was developed in conjunction with Techniquest

Other University events drawing crowds on the Maes included a lecture on Legislation and Language Planning given by Professor Colin H Williams of the School of Welsh and the launch of a new book which delves into the history of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia, written by co-directors of the University’s Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies.

A reunion event for School of Welsh alumni and demonstrations of Herschel and Planck – two satellites launched by the European Space Agency which carry on board University-led instruments that are currently beaming their first astronomical images back to earth were amongst other University Eisteddfod events.

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