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 […]

Another Rotary Machine Found in Bacteria

A molecular “garbage disposer” in the cell membrane bearing some resemblance to the rotating motor ATP synthase has been described in Nature.1  This machine, called AcrB, expels toxins from the cytoplasm through the cell membrane to the outside.  Like ATP synthase, it has three active sites at one end where the binding occurs, and it […]

Plant Protection: A Modern Medieval Castle Story

Vigilant guards stand at the gates.  In times of peace, they let down the drawbridge, and the townspeople carry on their trade.  Farmers bring in their crops for the marketplace, and local craftsmen and pedlars keep the local economy bustling.  Yet the sentries maintain a watchful eye, aware that numerous interlopers are about.  Aliens constantly […]

Flagellar Swimmers Attain Mechanical Nirvana

Those little germs that scientists love, E. coli – you know, the ones with the flagella that intelligent-design folk get all excited about – well, they move through the water pretty efficiently with those high-tech outboard motors of theirs.  Some Pennsylvania physicists reporting in PNAS1 measured the “swimming efficiency of bacterium Escherichia coli” and concluded, […]

Yoke Up Those Bacteria

My, how history repeats itself – often in unexpected ways.  In ancient times, our ancestors got the heavy work done by hitching oxen, horses or slaves (like Samson, see pictures 1 and 2) to a harness and making them turn a grinding wheel.  The same principle is now on the cutting edge of modern applied […]

Another Flagellum Excites Scientists

“The bacterial flagellar motor excites considerable interest because of the ordered expression of its genes, its regulated self-assembly, the complex interactions of its many proteins, and its startling mechanical abilities,” begins a paper in Nature by three Caltech scientists.1  They performed electron cryotomography imaging on the flagella of Triponema primita, a different critter with a […]
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