I am curious to know about helixes. It sounds like an awfully fancy schmantzy name for a coil-shaped object. On the other hand, it does seem to be tied up with an awful lot of really neat stuff. Threre’s the coronas known as planetary nebulai that surrounding dying stars and are wont to turn into helixes. There’s the famous double helix of DNA discovered by Watson, Crick and what’s-her-name. Time travellers and people going into nightmares are forever dropping into helixes.

How traditional is the helix as a motif and are they any other interesting uses that you could name?

I’ll be doing my own research, but this could help me with some writing that I’m doing. The Straight Dope Mesage Boards are a most stimulating venue.


“Helix” is nothing more than particular type of spiral shape, shared by spiral staircases, screw threads, DNA and Slinkies, among other things. The dictionary definition is:

Here’s an interesting tidbit: the plural of “helix” is “helices,” not “helixes.”

what’s-her-name = rosalyn franklin

Yep, that’s her. Without her x-ray diffraction work, Watson and Crick wouldn’t have been able to deduce the precise structure of DNA.