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Misfolded Proteins Cause Cascade of Harmful Effects

Understanding how proteins fold is at the leading edge of scientific research.  Proteins begin as linear chains of amino acids (polypeptides), but end as complex shapes with loops, sheets, bumps, ridges and grooves that are essential to their functions.  If you imagine a string of beads, some with electrical charges, magnets, oil droplets or other […]

Introns Stump Evolutionary Theorists

This story is not about Enron and Exxon, but about introns and exons.  The proportions of the scandals they are causing in evolutionary theory, however, may be comparable.     Introns are spacers between genes.  For several decades now, it has been a puzzle why they are there, and why a complex machine called a […]

In Praise of Fat

Well, great balls of fat.  Cells have spherical globs of lipid (fat) molecules that never had gotten much attention nor respect.  They have been called lipid droplets, oil bodies, fat globules and other names suggesting they were just the beer bellies of the cell.  Not any more.  Scientists have been taking a closer look at […]

It’s a Long (Roundabout) Way from Amphioxus

“Every solution breeds new problems” laments a Murphyism, and Henry Gee feels the pain.  In Nature this week,1 he delved into the growing quandary about where to put the common ancestor of starfish, sea squirts and chordates, including the vertebrates and us human beings.  His challenge is to prove the idiot’s sanity: So, if lancelets […]

Evolutionists Tackle Cambrian Explosion

You have to give credit to anyone who tackles a big problem head-on, regardless of whether you agree with their solution.  Two recent papers take on one of evolution’s biggest challenges: the Cambrian Explosion.  Assuming the evolutionary timeline, this represents a “brief” 5 million year period back 530 million years ago when most of the […]

Precision of Cell Quality Control Described

Two research papers in Molecular Cell give more glimpses into the precision of cellular controls to ensure mistakes are detected and weeded out before harm occurs.  Vogel, Bukau and Mayer1 found that the molecular “chaperone” Hsp70 has a “proline switch,” found in all living organisms.  This switch regulates when the polypeptide needing to be folded […]

Human Evolution: Clear as Mud

Evolutionists speak of our descent from apes with an air of confidence and certainty, but connecting the dots requires a bit of artistic license.  Here are some examples of how any data, no matter how puzzling, can be made to fit the Darwinian picture. Stretchy Clocks:  A famous painting by Salvador Dali portrayed clocks draped […]

Soil Provides Library of Antibiotic Resistance

The “evolution of antibiotic resistance” is a staple in the creation-evolution debates, providing evolutionists with a living illustration of evolution taking place right before our eyes.  What if all the information for antibiotic resistance, however, already exists in a library from which bacteria can find it?  That seems to be the implication of a study […]

Peer Review: Can You Trust a Scientific Journal Paper?

Science magazine has egg on its face – deviled, poached, and scrambled – everything but sunny side up.  Last May, it printed one of the biggest breakthrough stories of the year in stem cell research: Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang, a professor at the Seoul National University and President of the World Stem Cell Hub, […]

Health Depends on Robust Cell Machinery

When we think of health, we typically visualize the big things: firm muscles, energy, lack of a protruding stomach and the like.  Cell biology, though, is showing us how our health depends on the proper functioning of countless myriads of molecular machines.  Here are some recent samples from the science journals: Heroic Underdogs in the […]

Minimal Cell More Complex Than Expected

Craig Venter’s lab has been working on an interesting project in theoretical biology: what is the minimum set of genes needed for life?  They have taken one of the simplest organisms, Mycoplasma genitalium, and knocked out genes to see which ones are essential and which are nonessential for viability.  (This is part of the “top […]

How Blind Cave Fish Lose Color

A study on cave fish revealed that several populations can have mutations to the same gene.  A gene that produces melanin, named Oca2, was found to be mutated in two separate populations of cave fish, resulting in albinism.  This same gene can produce albinism in humans. The replicated experiment is a powerful tool for experimental […]

Don’t PNA in our OOL

Theories for the origin of life (OOL) are in a crisis, unable to imagine how something as complex as a replicating cell could come into existence. Could PNA do it?

One-Celled Organism’s Spring Generates Enormous Forces

The pioneering Dutch microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek marveled at the miniature “animalcules” he witnessed darting through the water and spinning like a top.  One such marvelous protozoan was Vorticella.  The way it rapidly contracted and expanded on its little stalk must have reminded Leeuwenhoek of a spring.  It turns out, it is a spring – […]

Micro-RNAs are Cell’s Optimizers

“Unnoticed next to the main ingredients, microRNAs were considered to be ‘junk’ DNA, leftovers from millions of years of evolution.”  That line comes from an article on EurekAlert telling about how dramatically that picture has changed.  RNA molecules are now seen to be indispensable, with many roles in the cell.  This article talked about how […]
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