Harnessing Cellular Machines for Humans

first_imgThe cell is loaded with molecular machines, so why reinvent the wheel?  or the whole truck?  Martin G. L. van den Heuvel and Cees Dekker wrote in Science that engineers ought to put the existing technology to work.1 The biological cell is equipped with a variety of molecular machines that perform complex mechanical tasks such as cell division or intracellular transport.  One can envision employing these biological motors in artificial environments.  We review the progress that has been made in using motor proteins for powering or manipulating nanoscale components.  In particular, kinesin and myosin biomotors that move along linear biofilaments have been widely explored as active components.  Currently realized applications are merely proof-of-principle demonstrations.  Yet, the sheer availability of an entire ready-to-use toolbox of nanosized biological motors is a great opportunity that calls for exploration.It’s time to put these ready and willing workhorses to work.  Their illustration shows diagrams of ATP synthase and a bacterial flagellum, kinesin, dynein, myosin and RNA polymerase.  Of the flagellum, they said, “This powerful motor, assembled from more than 20 different proteins, is driven by an inward proton flux that is converted by several torque-generating stators into a rotary motion of the cylindrical rings and central shaft.”    They reviewed the various motors and experiments to date to harness and control them.  Some day we might use cellular motors to sort, assemble, concentrate or manufacture materials on demand.  Or, we might try to copy them from scratch with our own building blocks.  But why do that?  “The small size and force-exerting capabilities of motor proteins and the range of opportunities for specific engineering give them unique advantages over current human-made motors,” they said.  The sky is the limit; the field seems limited only by our own imaginations.  “Upon studying and using biomotors, we will gather a lot of knowledge that is of interest to biology, material science, and chemistry, and it is reasonable to expect spin-offs for medicine, sensors, electronics, or engineering,” they concluded.  “The exploration of biomotors in technology will thus remain an interdisciplinary playground for many years to come.”    Oh, one other thing.  They did make a quick comment about where these machines came from.  Here is paragraph two of their article:A huge amount of biological research in recent decades has spurred the realization that the living cell can be viewed as a miniature factory that contains a large collection of dedicated protein machines (1)2.  Consider the complicated tasks that a single cell can perform: It can create a full copy of itself in less than an hour; it can proofread and repair errors in its own DNA, sense its environment and respond to it, change its shape and morphology, and obtain energy from photosynthesis or metabolism, using principles that are similar to solar cells or batteries.  All this functionality derives from thousands of sophisticated proteins, optimized by billions of years of evolution.  At the moment, we can only dream of constructing machines of similar size that possess just a fraction of the functionality of these natural wonders.While we’re on the subject, let’s look at a cellular device that recently got more praise: the cilium.  This little rod-like projection on most cells is doing more work than previously thought.  “Appreciation is now growing for primary cilia,” said Christenson and Ott in Science,3 primary cilia being “the nonmotile counterparts, present as a single copy on the surface of most cell types in our body.”    If primary cilia don’t beat and wave like the moving kind, what do they do?  Well, for one thing, “they function as unique antenna-like structures, probing the extracellular environment for molecules that are recognized by the receptors they bear.  This sensory function allows primary cilia to coordinate numerous intercellular signaling pathways that regulate growth, survival, and differentiation of cells during embryonic development and maintenance of healthy tissues.”  New research shows that a suite of molecules move in a coordinated fashion in and out of the cilium, creating a powerful switch by which cells can turn on and off a set of signaling pathways.  That’s pretty cool for an complex antenna previously thought to be nothing more than a little bitty hair on a tiny cell.41Martin G. L. van den Heuvel and Cees Dekker, “Motor Proteins at Work for Nanotechnology,” Nature 20 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5836, pp. 333-336, DOI: 10.1126/science.1139570.2This reference was to Bruce Alberts’ 1998 paper that made a similar statement, calling the study of molecular machines the “biology of the future” (see 01/09/2002).3Søren Tvorup Christensen and Carolyn Marie Ott, “Cell Signaling: A Ciliary Signaling Switch,” Science, 20 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5836, pp. 330-331, DOI: 10.1126/science.1146180.4The ones that move are way cool: see 12/19/2005, 03/12/2001.So, “thousands of sophisticated proteins, optimized by billions of years of evolution.”  Gimme a BREAK!(Visited 37 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Ethiopian Missing Link: Location, Location, Location

first_imgThe Associated Press reported that a new fossil discovery proves the link between two ancestral species of man, and shows the change happening right before our eyes:Fossils have long provided snapshots of the human family tree, but a new find in Africa gives scientists a kind of mini home movie showing man’s primal development.    Because the 4.2-million-year-old fossil is from the same human ancestral hot spot in Ethiopia as remains from seven other human-like species, scientists can now fill in the gaps for the most complete evolutionary chain so far.    “We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time,” said Ethiopian anthropologist Berhane Asfaw, co-author of the study being reported Thursday in the journal Nature.  “One form evolved to another.  This is evidence of evolution in one place through time.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)So what did they actually find?  Not a missing link or an intermediate form, but just another Australopithecus anamensis fossil, but in a location intermediate in the rock layers between Australopithecus and its supposed ancestor Ardipithecus:The species, Australopithecus anamensis is not new, but its location is what helps explain the giant leap from one early phase of human-like development to the next, scientists say. All eight species were found in a region called the Middle Awash.    “It’s like 12 frames of a home movie, but a home movie covering 6 million years,” said study lead author Tim White, co-director of Human Evolution Research Center at University of California at Berkeley.  Fossils in the region cover three major phases of human development.    “The key here is the sequences,” White said.  “It’s about a mile thickness of rocks in the Middle Awash and in it we can see all three phases of human evolution.“    Modern man belongs to the genus Homo, which is a subgroup in the family of hominids.  What evolved into Homo was likely the genus Australopithecus (once called “man-ape”), which includes the famed 3.2 million-year-old “Lucy” fossil found three decades ago.    A key candidate for the genus that evolved into Australopithecus is called Ardipithecus.  And Thursday’s finding is important in bridging – but not completely – the gap between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus.    In 1994, a 4.4 million-year-old partial skeleton of the species Ardipithecus ramidus – the most recent Ardipithecus species – was found about six miles from the latest discovery.    “This appears to be the link between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus as two different species,” White said.  The major noticeable difference between the phases of man can be seen in Australopithecus’ bigger chewing teeth to eat harder food, he said.Finally we get to the fine print and disclaimers.  It turns out they aren’t so sure as the headline would like you to believe:While it’s looking more likely, it is not a sure thing that Ardipithecus evolved into Australopithecus, he said.  The finding does not completely rule out Ardipithecus dying off as a genus and Australopithecus developing independently.    The connections between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus have been theorized since an anamensis fossil was first found in Kenya 11 years ago.  This draws the lines better, said Alan Walker of Penn State University, who found the first anamensis and is not part of White’s team.    Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program, agreed: “For those people who are tied up in doing the whole human family tree, being able to connect the branches is a very important thing to do.”This story was widely circulated in newspapers.In yet another example of circular reasoning, White and team have assumed evolution, fit the data to the evolutionary just so story, and paraded the result as “proof” that evolution happened.  Evolutionists are so desperate to deal with the lack of intermediate fossils that now the location of a fossil qualifies it as somehow being intermediate.  Arranging fossils in some increasing order of complexity to prove evolution has been around for a long time, for example, the horse evolution series, but it doesn’t prove that evolution happened any more than arranging old cars in a junkyard in order of complexity proves they evolved.    For an analysis of the human fossil data from a different worldview, read Marvin Lubenow’s classic book, Bones of Contention,  available from AIG.  Also, AIG has an excellent video critically analyzing the Lucy fossil, “Lucy, She’s No Lady,” by Dr. David Menton.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Photo library: Infrastructure 8

first_img{loadposition tc}Click on a thumbnail for a low-resolution image, or right-click on the link below it to download a high-resolution copy of the image.» Download Infrastructure contact sheet (1.1MB) » Download full image library contact sheet (10.5MB) Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province: Kings Park Stadium. Photo: Hannelie Coetzee, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal province: Bridge and highway. Photo: Graeme Williams, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal province: Construction of an extension to the Gateway Mall, already the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. Photo: Graeme Williams, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province: A container ship leaves the harbour. Photo: Rodger BoschMediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province: The harbour. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province: Early morning traffic rolls onto the city’s highways. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province: Sunset on the beachfront. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province: The city’s extensive system of highways. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Eastern Cape province: The new system of roads and other infrastructure at the Coega Industrial Development Zone. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res imageINFRASTRUCTURE 8: {loadposition infrastructure}Having trouble downloading high-resolution images? Queries about the image library? Email Janine Erasmus at [email protected]last_img read more

Ravenshaw University V-C resumes charge


Why I love yoga

first_imgPeople ask me often how I took up yoga as a practice and then as a career. Well, the story goes like this: when I was in school I was not at all oriented academically and never chased grades. However, physical education and sports played a major role for me in school. In fact, I became the sports captain and the only thing on my mind at the time was sports.After I graduated and it was time for me to choose a career I was not sure what I could do with my passion for sports. In any case, physical education was not a very sought after career choice then. Fitness experts were few and far between and it did not occur to me to think of it. So I ended up studying interior design, which was considered a safer option by far. I did quite a few projects, but you know what, deep down I was not happy. I felt a certain emptiness and that’s when I thought of going back to doing what I enjoyed the most and turn my gift into my profession. But I was not sure how to go about it, the road to travel was not entirely clear yet.Then in 2003 I randomly decided to take up yoga. I thought I would do it for six months as a trial and if I didn’t like it I would know I gave it my best shot. To my surprise, I was totally hooked from the start and there was no question of stopping. After this I went to New Zealand and taught yoga there for two months. I’ve never looked back since. I knew it was the start of a new beginning for me-towards becoming a physical trainer and living my dream! It felt like I was a child all over again, doing what I loved doing the most and helping others in my limited way.advertisementWhat yoga gave meThe mind and body I cherish. It has been over seven years now. Yoga has brought about a dramatic change in my attitude and, of course, physically too. I feel I am born with a completely flexible body and doing yoga helps me keep it that way. It not only works physically but helps me mentally by touching my soul. Today I feel complete wellness within myself.It helps in weight loss. Most people come to me seeking weight loss regimes and end up not only with the exercise but also spiritual cleansing that is so integral to yoga! Many people still think yoga doesn’t help you lose weight but that’s wrong. Many yoga postures achieve what most other forms of exercise can’t. I know this as I have seen yoga’s positive effects on my clients. The best thing about yoga is that it helps you tone your muscles and also makes sure you don’t gain excess weight even if you are sometimes irregular in your practice.It puts me in touch with myself. All my clients and others who have done my classes have come upon form of self realisation in the course of practising yoga. Yoga is a way of living healthy and you need to be patient to reap the benefits. It might take a few years of rigorous practice to achieve significant results. Once you do, you can tell the difference. Let me say this once again: yoga revives you not just externally but internally too! This month onwards we shall start this journey of revival in this column. Come join me in it!Payal Gidwani Tiwari is Bollywood’s most celebrated yoga expert. She is also the author of the bestselling book From XL to XS: A Fitness Guru’s Guide to Changing Your Body from Random House India. Visit her website: www.cosmicfusion.in or call 022 26488055last_img read more

21 days agoArsenal title winner Smith: Martinelli has striker instincts

first_imgArsenal title winner Smith: Martinelli has striker instinctsby Paul Vegas21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveArsenal title winner Alan Smith believes Gabriel Martinelli can play as a striker long-term.He wrote for the London Evening Standard: “Following on from his brace against Nottingham Forest, another two goals last night to soften up Standard Liege spoke of a teenager going places fast. We hear he is better suited long term to a role on the wing, the position where he made his name at Ituano in Brazil. “But his clever movement here suggested otherwise. The near-post dash across his marker to glance home a marvellous header. The skilful shimmy and shot to curl in the second. These aren’t the hallmarks of a winger filling in. They point to a front man with natural goalscoring instincts.”At 18, Martinelli obviously has much to learn. Pitted against better defenders, his hold-up play will need to gain nous. He’ll have to get stronger to protect the ball. But the basic ingredients are in place. He doesn’t need telling how to find space in the box — a wonderful asset for the challenge ahead.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Dr. Jaja Calls for Shift Towards Service Excellence

first_img Chairman of the Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA), Dr. Nsombi Jaja, is calling for a shift towards service excellence locally.She said that quality customer service is a critical component, which impacts every element of business.“Let us… create a tectonic shift in our mindset, attitudes and in our focus on customer service and service excellence. We have the power; let’s use the power to transform the landscape of service excellence in this country. Let us work together and support the initiatives that will move the needle in the right direction,” she added.Dr. Jaja was speaking at the media launch of National Customer Service Week (NCSW) and the Service Excellence Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday (September 4).The week will be observed from September 30 to October 6 under the theme ‘Be the Magic: The Making of Memorable Customer Experiences’ and will bring focus to the transformation that quality customer service can bring to the nation.The JaCSA Chairman urged that the week be used to shine the spotlight on the thousands of people who are delivering service excellence every day.“There is a principle of life that says ‘pay attention to what you want more of’, so if you want bad customer service, continue to showcase those, and if you want great customer service, showcase those because every day there is excellent customer service,” she said.Deputy Chairman, JaCSA, Richard Rowe, in his address, encouraged organisations, during NCSW, to raise awareness about the importance of customer service, boost morale and teamwork, and acknowledge and reward the work of staff.The week of activities will begin with a church service at the Webster Memorial Church on Half-Way Tree Road and includes workshops, school tours and competitions.The highlight of the week will be the Service Excellence Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on September 24 and 25, which will include presentations from Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke; and international customer experience coach John Formica.During the media launch, Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), Massy Gas Products Limited, and Sarifa Insurance Brokers Limited were branded 2018 NCSW Ambassadors, having recently copped the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and JaCSA Service Excellence Awards.The Jamaica Customer Service Song Competition organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) was also launched.The competition is open to primary and secondary school students. The winner will receive an $80,000 cash prize, trophies, among other things, and will be announced during the conference opening.For more information, contact JaCSA at 876-978-8668 or [email protected] “Let us… create a tectonic shift in our mindset, attitudes and in our focus on customer service and service excellence. We have the power; let’s use the power to transform the landscape of service excellence in this country. Let us work together and support the initiatives that will move the needle in the right direction,” she added. Chairman of the Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA), Dr. Nsombi Jaja, is calling for a shift towards service excellence locally. She said that quality customer service is a critical component, which impacts every element of business. Story Highlightslast_img read more

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