Ning-Hsiang Yin; Yu-Hsiang Chan; Zhi-Run Hsu; Wei-Shin Chen

Undergraduate students
National Taiwan Univeristy
Taipei, Taiwan

We took the "Molecular Aesthetics" course taught by Professor Bih-Yaw Jin right after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic early this year. Fortunately, the impact of pandemic on our class in the Spring semester of 2020 was quite minor as a result of early containment policies in Taiwan. After many hands-on construction activities on various icosahedral fullerenes with mathematical beading, we decide to collaborate on a bead model for the novel coronavirus as our term project.

Beaded sculpture of SARS-CoV-2
40 x 40 x 40 cm
8mm plastic beads

The virion of SARS-CoV-2 is surrounded by a spherical lipid bilayer from which spike protein trimers protrude. In order to construct a bead model of the coronavirus, we decide to use (8,0)-Goldberg polyhedron to approximate the central sphere. The exact number of spike proteins for a SARS-CoV-2 has not been determined experimentally yet. But to satisfy the icosahedral symmetry, we attach three spikes to each triangular face. Thus a total of sixty three-fold spike proteins are decorated on the surface. On certain triangular faces, we add an extra spike in the center to make the structure more similar to the illustration created by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.