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How Cells Proofread DNA Is Still Mysterious

An amazing fact about DNA transcription is that the machinery not only copies DNA onto RNA, but checks it for errors.  A story in Science Daily says that researchers would expect 100 times more errors statistically than the actual results of transcription in the cell.     One of the mechanisms revealed in more detail […]

Cells Use Cloud Computing

“Cloud computing” is the up-and-coming trend in information technology.  It allows processes to run in parallel on multiple networked processors with more robustness, because other processors can pick up the slack if a major server fails.  Scientists are finding that cells have been using this technology all along.     Science Daily reported on work […]

Discovering Health and Technology in the Human Body

Why invent technology from scratch, when the body contains substances that point the way to high tech, and can heal almost like magic?  Several articles show that harnessing the body’s own resources is the wave of the future.     Umbilical cords were usually tossed into the maternity ward biowaste can, but now they are […]

World’s Smallest Rotary Engine Highlighted

The smallest rotary motor in the world keeps your body humming.  It also keeps bacteria, plants, polar bears, giraffes, salmon, sea urchins and just about everything else humming.  It’s a nano-wonder called ATP synthase.  This molecular motor has been reported many times in these pages, but not recently; what’s new?  The state of our knowledge […]

Scientific Data Can Mislead

Some recent stories should remind scientists that data do not exist in a philosophical vacuum.  Sometimes empirical measurements can be downright misleading. Pillars of creation:  The famous Hubble photo of the Eagle Nebula’s “pillars of creation” seemed to have a straightforward explanation: nearby stars were eroding the pillars with blasts of radiation.  Scientists have been […]

Who Needs Embryonic Stem Cells?

Cells can be “reprogrammed” to act just like embryonic stem cells, a Nature stem cell blog called The Niche reported.  This eliminates the need to use viruses or inserted DNA to induce the cells to become pluripotent.  The resulting cells are “morphologically indistinguishable” from embryonic stem cells, the article said.     The prior week, […]

Evolving Complexity

Anyone analyzing a scientific explanation should evaluate whether it explains the phenomenon or explains it away.  For instance, to say that bats have sonar because they evolved it provides little in the way of understanding of how or why that happened.  Recently, some scientific papers have directly addressed the topic of complex systems in biology.  […]

Is Horizontal Gene Transfer a Force for Evolution?

Two more genomes were published last week: the information libraries of two tiny microbes.  They are members of Micromonas, green algae less than two microns across.  The original paper and summary both bragged about how the genetic information is helping shed light on evolution, but did the data really contain any light?  If so, the […]

Evolutionary Explanations: Substance, Seasoning, or Storytelling?

A scientific theory should explain why certain phenomena in nature are the way they are.  This layman’s view, though simplistic, expects that a theory should also predict new phenomena before they are observed.  In many science reports on evolution, however, one finds evolutionary theory tacked on as an explanation after the fact, when the theory […]

Crystal Mysticism Invades Astrobiology

Mystical ideas about the life-giving power of crystals usually go with New Age movies and storefronts.  Science is above all that, right?  Then what is a reader supposed to think of this opening line by Leslie Mullen on Space.com? One of the greatest mysteries about the origin of life is how the necessary ingredients consistently […]

Shedding Light on the Protein Big Bang Theory

The precise three-dimensional structure of a typical protein molecule is so complex, its origin would seem hopeless by chance.  What if evolutionary biologists were to discover a whole host of proteins literally exploded into existence at the beginning of complex life?  We can find out what they would think by looking at an article on […]

Elect Obama, Get Embryonic Stem Cells

President Obama is about to fulfill of his campaign promises: lifting restrictions on creating new embryonic stem cell lines (see Fox News).  The question now is, are they really needed?  They have yet to show any successes, while adult stem cells are enjoying an accelerating boom of amazing discoveries that could provide hope for some […]

Cell Motors Play Together

If one molecular machine by itself is a wonder, what would you think of groups of them playing in concert?  Recent papers and news articles are claiming that’s what happens in living cells: molecular motors coordinate their efforts.     Science Daily led off a story on this by saying, “Even within cells, the left […]

Adult Stem Cells, +2; Embryonic Stem Cells, -1

Two more successes were chalked up for adult stem cell therapies recently.  Science Daily said that sufferers from Crohn’s disease may have a new treatment option by getting injections of their own bone marrow stem cells.  This “now constitutes a treatment option to cure an intestinal disease that sometimes does not successfully respond to drugs […]

Assassins Roam Our Highways

Slinking surreptitiously through our blood streams, the assassins prowl about, looking for their targets.  These are not terrorists or vigilantes.  They have a license to kill.  Be glad they are there; they have saved your life many times.  They are called natural killer cells.     PhysOrg reported on work going on at Howard Hughes […]
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