13
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What is special about this? It's the only example I could find.

Photograph of a special helix

Is it a miniature meal? An old calculating device?

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13
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The secret message is

Slider

The model appears to be

DNA - with colors mapping onto nucleic acids

Searching for different possible mappings...

One of the possible mappings, blue->T, yellow->A, green->C, red->G, allows translating the sequence into the word SLIDER. Not only that, it translates the same forward and backward (5' to 3' and vice versa), making it fully palindromic at the protein level, even though the DNA isn't a perfect palindrome.

The other mappings don't have an obvious translation.

Finally,

Slider can refer to a small hamburger (miniature meal) or a slide rule (old calculating device), matching the extra clues :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Well done, 5 out of 5 solved! You didn't use the same mapping I did, but it just goes in another direction. If anyone wants all the gory details of how I designed the puzzle, I've published it on GitHub. (Complete spoiler, obviously.) $\endgroup$ – Don Kirkby Dec 3 at 4:21
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Not sure if I'm missing the actual puzzle, but this seems to be

a model of a double helix

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  • $\begingroup$ That's the first level, yes. There's more that makes it special. $\endgroup$ – Don Kirkby Dec 1 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @aml rot13(Na "byq pnyphyngvat qrivpr" jbhyq or na "nonphf", juvpu vf n fvk yrggre jbeq. Nal vqrn ubj gung zncf gb gur frdhrapr?) $\endgroup$ – Darrel Hoffman Dec 2 at 20:21
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If I'm right it is

DNA

We can see it by noting that

the color always match green with red and Blue with yellow. Same as matching aminated acid in DNA

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  • $\begingroup$ Everything you've said is right, but that's only the first out of five things to solve. What makes the example in my picture special? $\endgroup$ – Don Kirkby Dec 2 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ I knew it was too simple for Puzzling! SE :) $\endgroup$ – Alain Remillard Dec 2 at 15:43

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