The first time I entered the MOC Olympics was back in 2010, when I was pretty new to MOCpages. I made it to the elite eight, where I was beaten fair and square by a certain other British Stuart. Three years on, here we go again!
This was a really unusual category to pick - the two piece restriction is a challenging one, which had me casting around for some time for suitable subject matter, especially as there are relatively few pieces that I have >100 of in my collection. In the end a decided in the lowly 1x4 plate and the 2x2 slope, and a subject dear to my heart as a professional biologist...
The Double Helix, the elegant structure adopted by DNA. Two strands of nucleic acids wound around each other, the sugar-phosphate backbone on either side joined by pairs of complementary bases.
While there's a lot of structural detail you can't achieve at this scale, I tried to work in as many 'fun' facts as possible - there a 10 bases per turn of the helix; the two grooves between the backbones are of different sizes (in this shot the major groove is forwards in the bottom turn of the helix); the four different possible base-pair combinations (A-T, T-A, C-G & G-C) are represented by 4 different colours. Feel free to try and decode the base sequence...
Of course, whenever DNA is being utilised by our cells, the two strands are unwound from each other by a hexagonal enzyme called 'DNA helicase'.
"If I was an enzyme, I'd be DNA helicase - because then I could unzip your genes!" (Howard, The Big Bang Theory)
One of the major clues to the structure of DNA was the fact that crystals of it produced an 'X' shaped diffraction pattern when bombarded with X-rays. As any tame X-ray crystallographer will tell you, that's a dead giveaway that you're looking at a helical structure.
Here's the diffraction pattern with the DNA helix removed for clarity... and below, a photo of the real thing.
Well, thanks again to the judges for this intriguing and imagination-stretching category! Mr. Delahay, I'm fully expecting you to knock this one over the pavilion. If so I'll be rooting for you to claim the top spot this year!
Stuart, this is just stunningly beautiful! As an artist, I was always fascinated by natural structure and pattern, this is the basis of everything and masterfully shown in Lego. With only two types of pieces no less! I read your category and was truly excited to see what emerged and you have not disappointed. This is the challenge I would most definitely not want to judge. You have blown my mind with the complex simplicity of this. Completely awesome and the best of luck!
You do me far too much credit Stu. An elegantly constructed build explained with professional aplomb - anyone would think you did that kind of thing for a living ;) Well done sir, you and I form an elite club of people who know how tough this challenge is and I was intrigued all week as to what you chose for your two pieces. Good luck to you, go Team GB!