Chance Encounters

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Science  20 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5529, pp. 446-447
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063289

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Flexible polymers can form a vast number of different conformations, not all of which are equally probable. But as Russell explains in his Perspective, rare, short-lived excursions of the chains into very high energy states must exist. These events are difficult to detect, however. He highlights the report by Jeppesen et al., who have devised a methodology to enable their detection. Their results show that infrequent or energetically unfavorable conformations do nevertheless play an important role in long-range molecular recognition events.