biophysics vs. biochem speculatin'....

Dr. Ron rxw13 at po.cwru.edu
Fri Nov 3 11:41:32 EST 1995


> mbmorton at ix.netcom.com (michelle morton ) writes:

>Got a question that's been puzzling me.  My cat's fur is so soft that
>petting him is like touching a cashmere or angora sweater.  My question
>is this - is *softness* due to: ... 

>Obviously, as a student I have wwwaaaaaayyyy too much time on my time
>on my hands :>!!!  This is one of several "philosophy" of chemistry
>questions I have that keep me from ever getting around to figuring out
>how to solve world hunger or bring about total global peace on earth
>and other really important stuff like that!  Soooooooo, if you can help
>me out, I'd really appreciate it.  Thanx in advance for your info.

Never apologize for thinking, Mich.  Lotsa good ideas have their origins in 
idle thoughts.

I don't have an answer, but a speculation -- 'softness' in fur is a lack of 
resistance to pressure, yet a resilience once that pressure is removed. 
Probalby all of your options are involved -- protein tertiery and quaternary 
structure that permits easy alignment of individual hairs, possibly a thin 
monomolecular film lanolin coating that prevents electrostatic interactions 
between strands - but isn't thick enough to feel greasy or allow stickiness.

It might be interesting for a industrial polymer company to find out what ARE 
the differences between angora-y   soft cats and plain ordinary cats at the 
molecular and physical levels, if they already haven't -- presumably, preety 
much the same structural proteins -- maybe differences in proline content?



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