"Purple Haze," a sculpture created using 3-D beadweaving, depicts the bacteriophage ÆX174, a virus that infects bacteria. The surface it's resting on portrays an adaptive landscape, a visualization of a concept from population genetics. The ridges represent the gene combinations associated with the fitness of the virus, as measured by how quickly the virus can reproduce. The virus can be said to "climb an adaptive peak" as it evolves to be increasingly fit. The bacteriophage ÆX174 is an important model system for studies of viral evolution because its genome can readily be sequenced as it evolves under defined laboratory conditions.
The design was inspired by a pattern for a Christmas ornament, created by Chris Prussing (Beadwork 2001 Oct/Nov pg. 43). The sculpture was embellished using the Ndebele and peyote stitches. It measures about 3 1/2" inches across and was made using bugle beads, seed beads and Czech crystals. (Date of Image: 2005)
Credit: Sculpture by H. Wichman; surface by A. Johnston, undergraduate student in landscape architecture; photo by J. Palmersheim.