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Molecular Motors Galore: How Did They Evolve?

Myosin is one of the cell’s little monorail motors that trucks cargo around the cell, pushes false feet into the surrounding environment, forces packages out the cell membrane, makes muscles move and wiggles hairlike cilia.  Scientists reporting in Nature1 found twice as many varieties of myosin (37) than were previously known (17) and decided to […]

Saddle Up Your Algae: Scientists Harness Flagellar Motors

1805: Beast of burden of choice: oxen. 2005: Beast of burden of choice: algae. Science Now reported an unusual item: scientists have learned how to hitch their loads to a single-celled green alga named Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (see Yale description).  Researchers are actually calling their little teams “micro-oxen.” Scientists are increasingly interested in harnessing biological motors […]

What Do You Get When You Cross a Lion with a Tiger?

A liger, that’s what.  No kidding: you get a big cat with a mane and faint stripes that likes to play in the water.  National Geographic News has a special article, with photos, about ligers. This is offered without much comment, just for those who want to learn about something unusual in the animal kingdom, […]

Body Scan: How Precision Engineering Aids Human Acumen

Often the most interesting science stories are the ones about us– how our bodies and minds function.  Actions we perform each day without much thought are made possible by precision engineering, sometimes at the molecular level.  Here is a selection of news briefs about human superpowers. Electrical engineering: We have untold myriads of electrical voltage […]

Cell’s High-Fidelity Proofreading and Editing Explained

—It’s unusual to have a story win both Amazing and Dumb awards simultaneously, but the reason will become clear.–ed.) Luisa Cochella and Rachel Green (Johns Hopkins) have published a primer on “Fidelity in Protein Synthesis” in Current Biology.1  This is a good article for cell biology enthusiasts to read, to learn more about the methods […]

What Is Really Known About the Genetic Basis of Evolution?

Now that the genomes of a variety of plants and animals have been published, is there a clear picture of evolution emerging?  Sean Carroll (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) wrote a review in PLoS Biology,1 in which he explored the current thinking about the evolution of anatomy at the genetic level.  The thing to watch for […]

“Junk” Cells Maintain the Brain

The most abundant immune cells in your brain are not the neurons, but microglia – spindly cells that were thought to be static and immobile, the smallest of the glia cells that were once considered mere scaffolding to support the more important gray matter (see 11/20/2001 and 01/29/2001 entries).  When two scientists recently applied the […]

More Evidence the Molecular Clock is Broken

“We live in interesting times,” grinned David Penny in Nature,1 reporting on how estimates of evolutionary past based on comparative genomics (the molecular clock) is producing confusing results.  Apparently, evolutionary geneticists are going to have to make use of the theory of relativity – i.e., that how fast the clock ticks depends on the viewpoint […]

The Death of the Concept of “Junk DNA”

“God don’t make no junk” has been a slogan for the self-esteem movement, and now no less than Science Now is providing support at the genetic level.  “Don’t call it junk” the article announces, indicating that stretches of non-coding DNA are apparently not useless regions of material as previously believed, but vital to the regulation […]

Small Wonder: Tubulin Visualized Up Close

Science Daily printed a neat story about microtubules, complete with a 3D visualization of how the protein components are arranged.  They are not just ropes or chains, but complex cylinders of precise parts.  Scientists are starting to get an idea of why they continually grow and shrink within the cell.  The process allows them to […]

Reverse-Engineering Biological Networks Challenges Caltech Scientists

Evolutionists love to quote Dobzhansky saying, “Nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution.”  An article in the current issue of Caltech’s magazine Engineering and Science,1 however, might change that proverb to, “Nothing in biology makes sense apart from information theory and systems engineering.”  The article makes no mention of evolution, but rather looks at […]

Cell Wonders Accelerate

Scientific papers on cell biology continue to uncover amazing things as techniques improve to peer into the workings of these units of life.  Here are our Top Ten from the last few weeks: Immunity Tunes:  A press release from Johns Hopkins talked about how, unlike other cells, immune cells undergo a “dizzying loop of activity” […]

Enzymes Chew Like Pac-Man

Evidence is growing that many enzymes have moving parts.  They act like scissors, clamps and little pac-mans.  When precisely-folded chains of amino acids emerge from the ribosome, they fold into unique shapes with the aid of chaperones.  But those shapes are not static globs.  They move, say Dmitry A. Kondrashov and George N. Phillips, Jr. […]

Stem Cell Headlines

Research on embryonic stem cells is proceeding apace without an ethical anchor, and no clue where it will lead.  News coverage of the debate accelerated with an announcement from South Korea. Match point:  The BBC News and many other news sources published South Korea’s announcement that stem cells matched to the individual have been tailored […]

Design Language Gushes Out of Article Describing Cell Quality Control

Here are the design words found in a press release from Michigan State describing the editing mechanisms of the cell DNA-to-RNA transcription process: high fidelity, quality control, inner workings, genetic coding, exquisite nanotechnology in living systems, genetic control, blueprint for life, industrial assembly line, conveyor belt, preloading, criteria, backs up to correct the error, sensed […]
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