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Quality Control Ensures Accurate Cell Division

Cell division (mitosis) is a very complex process in which every part must be accurately duplicated and sent to the proper destination.  Picture a marching band where each flute player or tuba player is able to clone itself.  The players congregate at the center in two lines, divide, and move apart, forming two marching bands […]

Evolution Goes Forward, Backward and Sideways

According to an article by Becky Ham on MSNBC, evolution can make things more complicated or less complicated.  She referred to iconic cartoons that show the progress of evolution from slime to couch potato.  “It’s just a joke, but the idea that life starts simple and gets more complex over time persists even in scientific […]

Will Adult Stem Cells Cure Sickle Cell Anemia?

It’s been just weeks since two labs announced success harvesting pluripotent stem cells from skin cells (11/20/2007), and already beneficial applications are in sight.  Science Daily and Live Science reported on initial tests that show the new “induced pluripotent stem cells” offer hope for millions afflicted with sickle-cell anemia.  Though it’s too early to tell […]

Cell Gatekeepers: Diverse, Complex, Accurate

Cargo moves around rapidly and ceaselessly in every cell.  Some moves in and out of the external membrane, and some moves in and out of organelles and the nucleus.  In a system of protected domains surrounded by impermeable membranes, how does the cell control what should pass?  Details of the amazing gatekeeping mechanisms embedded in […]

More Cell Codes and Authentication Mechanisms

Here are more “cool cell tricks” that ensure a smoothly-functioning system inside the cell that can adapt to changes while protecting assets. Ribosome code:  Why don’t all ribosomes look alike?  Perhaps they know a secret code.  Another possible coding mechanism has been found in ribosomes, those important organelles in the cytoplasm that translate messenger RNA […]

Month-End Close-Out

Sometimes the creation-evolution news comes in too fast.  Here’s a baker’s dozen from the October shelf, lest they go stale; time to start a new batch for November. Charity begins at worldview:  David Cyranoski in Nature (450, 24-25, 10/31/2007) investigated why the level of charitable giving in prosperous Japan is a tenth of that in […]

Cilia Are Antennas for Human Senses and Development

The little hair-like projections on cells, called cilia, have more functions than previously believed.  A press release from Johns Hopkins University said that researchers found cilia are important for the sense of touch – particularly, for heat sensation.  In fact, cilia are implicated in at least three of the five traditional senses.     The […]

Make Your Face Sparkle With Diatoms

Human engineers may join forces with cellular architects to produce the next generation of paints, cosmetics and holograms, reported Science Daily.  Scientists are finding ways to harness the rapid growth of diatoms.  Manufacturing consumer products with these properties currently requires energy-intensive, high-temperature, high-pressure industrial processes that create tiny artificial reflectors.  But farming diatom shells, which […]

Bacteria and Plants Know Network Tech

An article on Science Daily says, “plants have their own chat systems that they can use to warn each other.”  Many herbal plants such as strawberry, clover, reed and ground elder naturally form networks.  Individual plants remain connected with each other for a certain period of time by means of runners.  These connections enable the […]

Molecular Machines Under the Nanoscope

Seeing machines just billionths of a meter long seems impossible, but cell biologists are now routinely looking into the cellular black box.  Using indirect but powerful methods, they can actually begin to visualize the gears and wheels and cogs of the protein machines that make life possible.  Some of our favorite cell gadgets were examined […]

Don’t Just Sit There; Evolve

Have you ever wondered why your body doesn’t evolve?  After all, it is kind of like a population of trillions of organisms.  Why shouldn’t it follow the rules of natural selection?  Philip Ball asked this question in News@Nature recently.  “Evolution is usually thought of as something that happens to whole organisms,” he teased.  “But there’s […]

Stem-Cell Advocates Try to Shield Ethical Concerns

Would an embryonic stem cell by another name cease being human?  Several recent articles on embryonic stem cells are going beyond just touting the potential cures from the controversial research, which involves creating and destroying a human embryo.  Some are blurring the line between embryonic and adult stem cells (cf. 12/02/2006) and attempting to avoid […]

Upsets: Assumptions About Genes, Atmospheres Challenged

It’s not fun when a whole superstructure of scientific theories and models is found to rest on a shaky foundation.  That’s just what may be happening in two very different fields: genetics and planetary science: Lateral pass to the opposing team:  Building evolutionary trees by comparing genomes was supposed to be simple.  Sure, geneticists knew […]

Thermodynamics: The Real Theory of Everything

Need a theory of everything?  Try thermodynamics.  Mark Haw reviewed a new book by Peter Atkins on the subject in Nature,1 Four Laws that Drive the Universe (Oxford, 2007).  He had high praise for the achievements of the “19th century grandees” Joule, Maxwell and Kelvin: Thermodynamics ought to be the cornerstone of any scientist’s understanding […]

DNA Repair Is Highly Coordinated

The remarkable ability of cells to repair DNA damage has been the subject of several recent articles.  As a long, physical molecule subject to perturbing forces, DNA is subject to breakage on occasion.  If repair mechanisms were not in place, the genetic information would quickly become hopelessly scrambled and life would break down.  Studies are […]
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