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Burnt Bridges, Brownian Ratchets, and Self-Propelled Motors Keep Skin Young Looking

Rock climbers and cavers are familiar with mechanical devices called ascenders that enable them to climb ropes safely and easily.  Ascenders slide up the rope in one direction, but latch onto it tightly when pulled the other direction.  Now imagine the ascender by itself, hanging on the rope, in a flurry of winds blowing in […]

Cell Exhibits Robust Engineering Design

An international team of biotechnologists writing in the journal Cell1 thinks biologists need to focus more on the concept of robust engineering design.  The abstract sounds like something out of an Intelligent Design Movement paper: Robustness, the ability to maintain performance in the face of perturbations and uncertainty, is a long-recognized key property of living […]

Secrets of the Spliceosome Revealed

A husband and wife team from Hebrew University has revealed the structure of the spliceosome, one of the most complex molecular machines in the cell (see 09/12/2002 headline), in more detail than ever before, says EurekAlert.  The spliceosome is responsible for cutting out the introns in messenger RNA after it has transcribed DNA, and also […]

Peering Into Paley’s Black Box: The Gears of the Biological Clock

William Paley’s famous “watchmaker argument” for the existence of a Designer, though intuitively logical to many, has been criticized by naturalists on the grounds that one cannot compare mechanical devices to biological ones.  Biological “contrivances” might operate on totally different principles than mechanical ones made by humans we know.     Michael Behe’s 1996 book […]

Is the Evolution of Bacterial Resistance a Just-So Story?

Evolutionists frequently point to the emergence of bacterial resistance to antibiotics as an example of Darwinian evolution occurring right under our noses.  Bruce R. Levin of Emory University, writing in the Sept. 10 issue of Science,1 is not so sure about that.  He points out that cells might just have a built-in mechanism to shut […]

Researchers Record the Hum of Cellular Motors at Work

Researchers from UCLA placed a probe on a yeast cell and found that it vibrated at 1.6 kHz.  Further tests showed the vibration responded to temperature and to metabolic agents.  They think they have discovered the hum of cellular motors at work, reports Science News.1  “By the UCLA team’s calculations,“ writes Alexandra Goho, “molecular-motor proteins […]

ATP Synthase: Another Unexpected Case of Fine Tuning

ATP synthase, the miniature rotary motor that powers our cells, has been a subject of great interest since the elucidation of its rotary function won three scientists a Nobel prize in 1997.  As an example of a precision-crafted, true electric rotary motor in living systems (another being the larger bacterial flagellum), it also provides a […]

Cell Nucleus Complexity Baffles Evolutionists

In her inimitable way, Science reporter Elizabeth Pennisi has once again portrayed a scientific controversy undergoing active ferment.  This time it’s about the evolutionary origin of cell nuclei, which she terms “specialized, DNA-filled command centers.”1  At the conclusion, she gives prominence to a “provocative, but circumstantial and controversial” suggestion that viruses taught cells how to […]

Gymnastic Enzyme Acts Like Logic Gate

An enzyme named vinculin undergoes “drastic” conformational changes, reports William A. Weis in the July 29 issue of Nature.1  Vinculin, with over a thousand amino acid links, is important at membrane junctions for transporting materials in and out of the cell.  It helps cellular “glue” exit the membrane so that neighboring cells can adhere to […]

Spaghetti in a Basketball: How the Cell Packs DNA for Controlled Access

The beginning sentence of an article in Current Biology1 can’t help but grab your attention: Imagine trying to stuff about 10,000 miles of spaghetti inside a basketball.  Then, if that was not difficult enough, attempt to find a unique one inch segment of pasta from the middle of this mess, or try to duplicate, untangle […]

How Cells Build Hard Parts

You have rocks in your head, and it’s a good thing, or you would die of starvation and imbalance.  Living things have need of inorganic structures for various functions.  Can you name the mineral structures in your body?  The answer is: bone, dentin, enamel and otoliths.  The last three are specific to your head.  Dentin […]

Engineers Envy Diatoms’ Glass-Sculpturing Prowess

What is it?  An ornate crown?  A crystal serving dish cover?  A work of art?  The photo on the cover of the July 17 Science News, labeled “silicon jewels,” is a microphotograph of a diatom, a one-celled organism that lives in the sea and builds itself a glass house too small to see with the […]

Cell Cargo Speeds On Bidirectional Highways

As reported here numerous times (e.g., 06/14/2004, 12/04/2003, 04/14/2003, 03/28/2003, 02/25/2003, 12/17/2002, 09/26/2002, 03/26/2002, 02/01/2002, 12/06/2001, 08/17/2001, 06/19/2001, 02/21/2001), cells have an elaborate interstate highway system with molecular trucks hauling cargo back and forth.  Scientists have known that the cellular highways have polarities labeled plus and minus, and that molecular motors typically go one way.  […]

Archaea Have Their Own Proofreading Mechanism

A team of Yale biochemists investigated a proofreading mechanism in one-celled organisms from the domain Archaea and found it different, but just as effective, as its counterpart in domains Bacteria and Eukarya (the latter including all plants and humans).  Their work was published online in PNAS July 6.1     The particular instance involved the […]

Cell Technology Celebrated

Humans are just beginning to imitate the manufacturing techniques cells use all the time, right under our noses.  A book just came out about the subject, entitled Bionanotechnology: Lessons from Nature by David S. Goodsell.  It’s hard to tell if Christof M. Niemeyer was more impressed with the book or with the living machines themselves, […]
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