The Size of a Jelly Molecule as Estimated by Jelly Electrophoresis
Despite the importance of jelly as a sandwich ingredient, its molecular
structure remains poorly understood. We therefore attempted a preliminary
characterization of the jelly molecule using a novel technique we call "jelly
Jelly electrophoresis is a methodological cousin of gel electrophoresis,
in which a molecules size is estimated from its speed of travel through
a porous matrix. In the case of jelly electrophoresis (see Figure 1), the
matrix, in addition to being porous, is generally edible. Details are presented
Three samples were placed in separate "lanes" atop a slice of
multigrain bread: a tablespoon of jelly, a tablespoon of water, and a small
piece of turkey (see Figure 2B). The samples were allowed to migrate vertically
through the bread while the experimenter ate lunch, a period of approximately
20 minutes. The bread was then removed from the experimental apparatus for
further analysis (see Figure 3).
The water and the turkey, being of known composition, served as molecular
weight markers against which to compare the jelly. The molecular weight
of water is 18, while turkey is composed primarily of actin and myosin filaments
of molecular weight 42,000 and 520,000, respectively.1
The distances traveled by the samples through the bread are reported in
Table 1. The molecular weight marker results were used to construct the
standard curve shown in Figure 4, which the author neglected to send to
the editor. Based upon this curve, the migration distance of the jelly (0.2
cm) indicates that its molecular weight is approximately 90,000.
Jelly molecules are surprisingly large. Nevertheless, they migrate through bread at a measurable speed -- roughly 0.6 cm/hour, permitting them to pass all the way through a 1.5-cm-thick slice of bread in 2.5 hours. To prevent such behavior, a "crustless sandwich" design, in which the jelly is surrounded by a layer of impenetrable peanut butter,2 should be employed whenever possible.
TABLE 1: the application of jelly electrophoresis to some common kitchen
Sample -- Molecular weight -- Distance traveled
water -- 18 -- 2.6 cm
turkey --x -- x
actin -- 42,000 -- 0.0 cm
myosin -- 520,000 -- 0.0 cm
jelly -- ???-- 0.2 cm
1. Muscle Contraction, C. Bagshaw, 1993, London: Chapman & Hall.
2. For an example of this kind of device, see "Plucked From Obscurity: Crustless Sandwich," M. Tsipis, Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 8, no. 2, March/April 2002, p. 30.
M. Lambeth, D. Marcinek, E. Shankland, and R. Stuppard contributed and/or consumed materials used in this study.
© Copyright 2002 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)