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Cell Membrane Has Ticket-Operated Turnstiles

Cells are like castles surrounded by walls.  A wall without gates, however, would prevent commerce and trap the inhabitants inside.  The cell has ingenious gates that control the flow of goods and services through its outer membrane under tight surveillance and quality control.  This controlled flow, as opposed to passive diffusion or osmosis, is termed […]

The Evolution of Electrical Engineering:  An Imaginary Tale

Nerves carry electrical impulses.  Ipso facto, they are subject to laws of physics concerning conductance, capacitance, and resistance.  Getting a signal from one end of an animal to the other in time can be a matter of life and death.  In order to maintain optimum levels of electrical conductivity to meet their lifestyle requirements, animals […]

Are Cellular Motors Related by Evolution?

Just because two things go round and round, does that make them related by common ancestry?  A Japanese team thinks so.  A bacterial flagellum rotates (06/04/2002).  So does ATP synthase, though it is about 10 times smaller (04/30/2004).  Publishing in PNAS,1 these researchers looked for a relationship, and noted that these two motors bear some […]

This Bacterium Moves Like a Tank

Mark McBride (U of Wisconsin) has been trying for a decade to figure out how a gliding bacterium glides.  His conclusion: the microbe has tire treads like a conveyor belt that make it roll over a variety of surfaces, like an all-terrain vehicle.     According to a U of Wisconsin press release, the Department […]

Cell Zippers, Linemen and Editors Put on a Show

The golden age of cell biology continues.  Scientists keep unlocking the secrets of cellular machinery with newer and better techniques.  With the curtain rising on a show we could not previously imagine, played out on a stage so small it took centuries of scientific work to even see it, biochemists are discovering amazing tricks that […]

Animal Plan IT

Imitating animal technology is one of the hottest areas in science.  The engineering and information technology (IT) observable in living things continues to astonish scientists and makes engineers want to imitate nature’s designs.  Biomimetics is leading to productive, useful discoveries helping solve human problems and leading to a better life for all.  Here are some […]

Mutations Accelerate Each Other’s Damage

As reported in our 10/14/2004 entry, mutations do not work in isolation; even the good kind usually conspire against the host.  This fact has been largely ignored by neo-Darwinists.  Some researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, writing in Nature,1 tested the interaction of mutations (epistasis) on proteins.  They found, in short, that harmful […]

The Nature of Cellular Tech

For molecule-size entities working in the dark, cellular machines seem pretty clever.  Here are some tricks they perform day and night to keep life functioning, described this month in Nature and PNAS.  Cell biology is sounding more and more like a mixture of Popular Mechanics and Wired. Energy balancing act:  Cells have to use oxygen […]

Outsource Our Energy Woes to the Microbes

Do we need to dig for oil forever?  Do we need to fret and fume over energy policy as more consumers compete for decreasing resources?  What if there were a virtually inexhaustible supply right under our noses?  That’s what the American Society for Microbiology asked in a press release reproduced by EurekAlert.  “The answer to […]

A Cell Technology Show

The basic units of life continue to astound scientists with their tricks.  Here are a few recent samples: Valuable junk:  The complementary or “antisense” strands of certain RNAs that latch onto messenger RNAs are not just junk anymore.  Science Daily reported that these genetic oddities, “previously thought to have no function, may in fact protect […]

Bacterial Flagellum Multitasking and Assembly Described

Since the bacterial flagellum has become a de facto icon of the intelligent design movement, it’s instructive to see what new discoveries come to light on the molecular machine par excellence.  Two papers appeared recently. Ferry Boats:  A Cambridge team publishing in PNAS1 studied how the parts get to the assembly site.  The studied one […]

Precambrian Cell Division Imaged

Embryos frozen in stone in the act of cell division were reported in Science.1  According to a press release from Virginia Tech, there are millions of fossilized embryos in the Doushantuo formation in south China, estimated to be 551 million years old, but “later stages of these animals are rare.”  The EurekAlert version of this […]

Science Potpourri

Interesting articles from recent issues of Science have piled up in the queue.  These might have made separate entries in CEH if time and space were unlimited. Deep Impact:  The team of the Deep Impact mission to a comet published spectral results in the July 13 issue.  “Emission signatures due to amorphous and crystalline silicates, […]

Biological Nanomachines Inspire Nanotechnology

Nano, nano; we’re hearing that morkish prefix a lot these days.  It means 10-9 of something: most often, of meters (see powers of ten).  A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.  This gets down into the range of protein molecules and small cellular components.  A DNA molecule, for instance, is about 20 nanometers across; […]

What’s Inside a Spore?  Nanotechnology

The spores that are emitted from fungi and ferns are so tiny, the appear like dust in the wind.  Who would have ever thought such specks could exhibit nano-technological wonders like scientists have found recently: Evapo-Motors:  Scientists at U of Michigan were intrigued by how ferns turn the power of evaporation into launching pads.  The […]
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