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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 […]

How Useful Is Evolutionary Theory to Biology?

A favorite quote by evolutionists is the line by Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  Why, then, do so many biological papers fail to mention evolution at all?  Indeed, many employ design language, sometimes with a sense of awe.  Here are more recent examples in which the E […]

Bacteria Rule the World – Benevolently

We should love bacteria, not annihilate them.  Bacteria are our friends, according to Dianne K. Newman of Caltech:1 As a microbiologist, I’m appalled when I go to buy soap or dishwashing detergent, because these days it’s hard to find anything that doesn’t say ‘antibacterial’ on it…. It’s a commonly held fallacy that all bacteria are […]

Self-Correcting RNA: Is It a Missing Link?

A team of Russian scientists at Rutgers discovered a remarkable phenomenon: RNA that proofreads itself during its own synthesis.  The work was reported in Science1: “We show that during transcription elongation, the hydrolytic reaction stimulated by misincorporated nucleotides proofreads most of the misincorporation events and thus serves as an intrinsic mechanism of transcription fidelity.”  It […]

Cell Backup Systems Challenge Evolution, Show Design Principles

Has an intelligent design paper been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences?1  Read the abstract and decide whether this research supports Darwinism or design: Functional redundancies, generated by gene duplications, are highly widespread throughout all known genomes.  One consequence of these redundancies is a tremendous increase to the robustness of organisms […]

Cell Untangles Its Own DNA

DNA is packed like spaghetti in a basketball (07/28/2004), but must constantly be accessed by transcribers, duplicators and other molecular machines.  Scientists at the Karolinska Institute, according to EurekAlert, have found a complex of protein machines that know how to untangle DNA.  Machines that can keep DNA from separating too early (cohesins) and keep DNA […]
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