JAMES KING-HOLMES / OCMS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / OCMS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
X-ray diffraction pattern of a crystal of alpha lactalbumen, a calcium-linked protein involved in the transport of calcium into the body. The white spots in the picture are concentrations of diffracted X-rays; the diffuse circular pattern is background "noise" from residual water in the crystal. In X-ray diffraction crystallography, complex computer programs are used to produce from a series of such images an electron density map of the crystal, which can then be used to determine the molecular structure.
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