Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Memories of a Molecular Biologist

Yours truly used to be a hard core scientist, PhD in Molecular Biology. But life went through and I dropped the matter over a decade ago. Yet, that does not mean I forgot about it and thus I am offering you this find of stunning videos on the inner working of cells. What surprised me most is, in addition of a technology that we could not even dream on when I was a student, that I still managed to recognize on sight a lot of organelles either through their shape or function (well, after a couple of views for many, let's be honest here).

Powering the Cell: Mitochondria « XVIVO

harmit09232010 from XVIVO | Scientific Animation on Vimeo.

Still, what made me bring your attention is that the animations of these scenes is, in my opinion, more exciting that what you can find in Star Wars and the like. There you have imagination at play in interstellar combat whereas in these videos it is nature, it is what we suspected was happening 20 years ago; and in beauty and complexity it surpasses anything that intergalactic imagination has been able to come up with.

There are other videos by this company, one that I liked The Inner Life of the Cell « XVIVO. The life of an immune system killer cell.  Beats the Death Star!

Now that I think of it, my past probably explains a lot why I have little patience with fundamentalists and creationists of which chavismo is only one weird variety.... but i digress....


  1. Call me a true moderate.As a moderate I believe in nothing and as moderate , I believe in it all.

    Beautiful fotos Daniel.Beauty and wonder are 2 spiritual qualities that some would argue can help us to get closer to the world of " God".

    I believe that we as human beings are not omniscient and in matters of such immenseness as the creation of the world we must continue our search only with the utmost humility.In fact I believe that it is with humility that both the scientist and creationist can keep an open mind, and it is only the open mind that can expand knowledge and understanding.The close minded already thinks he knows.That goes for both scientists and creationists equally.

    Now what troubles me is the arrogance with which scientific “facts” are presented and are elevated to nearly unassailable, religious status by their followers.This goes against the true nature of science .A scientist should be dedicated to the continuing search for , meaning, the asking and re -asking of questions and the knowledge that learning never ends.The same goes for the religious.It is a contradiction in terms to think that God is omniscient, but we are not, and then at the same time think we know what God is ,does, thinks or did.The very nature of God should be unknowable to us except as love or as the deeper reaches of our spiritual striving, limited as they are in our individual view points.

    If Chavez is a creationist, I did not know, however , that would be the last quality in him that is responsible for the evil in his heart.I reserve my lack of patience for his more evil aspects.

  2. Firepigette

    So, are we to understand that you are a creationist? :)

    I used fundamentalist and creationist together in my text on purpose. And Chavez is a fundamentalist who at least recreates history. In fact, he probably either ignores evolution, does not understand it or is a cryptic creationist as per a famous video that I riposted a few weeks ago as to how long humankind has been around.


    As a molecular biologist evolution is a fact. I am willing to discuss the ways in which evolution operates but I am absolutely unable to accept it being questioned. In my book supporting creation science is equivalent to deny 98% of modern science achievements, from continental drift to smokers at the bottom of the ocean. The 2% missing is some chiaroscuro areas that creationists try to use to deny the overwhelming 98%.

  3. "The 2% missing is some chiaroscuro areas that creationists try to use to deny the overwhelming 98%." Indeed. I've found talking to creationists a lot like talking to PSF's. No amount of data can change their minds.

  4. Me? A creationist? Well, Perhaps I wasn't too clear when I said what I said.What I should have said is that I am a creationist only in the sense of possibility, not in the sense of actuality :), possibility being the most important word here.Only when the word will be defined in a broader sense could it be a possibility.

    you said:

    "there is nothing worse than an ignorant that thinks he knows it all."

    I am not sure that believing in creationism is ALWAYS the same as believing that the world was created 3,000 years ago with Adam and Eve in the garden of EDEN either.

    just a thought:

    It comes to me in dreams,
    as an infrequent presence,
    this numinous world on a skateboard,
    in its glide through inner space
    CELLULAR poems directing traffic
    on the runways of life and death
    then later painted on a scroll
    inside a small dog's mouth
    perched on a Stupa's vessel
    in a remote Tibetan monastery

  5. Jsb

    When we criticize Chavez for his arrogant beliefs, and imply that those who do not believe as we do are not even worth arguing with, this is arrogance as well.

    Evolutionists want you to believe that their view is scientific and that creationism isn't. Evolution has never been proven by experimentation and observation, so it is not a completely scientific view.

    Evolution is just as religious as Creationism because both views require faith on the part of their adherents. No one saw God create the universe, and no one saw the "big bang" occur. Both views are religious as far as origins are concerned because they are based at least partly on belief.

    Absolute certainty is missing in both cases, therefore it is arrogant for one to dismiss the other based on one's personal preferences.

    What are facts, and what are not facts, are in the mind of the thinker.In this world you have to be more intelligent and more creative than that to find Unity and agreements among different cultures.

  6. firepiggette

    I am sorry to let you know that but the evidence for evolution taking place is overwhelming. When people do not accept it it is because they do not understand the science involved.

    Again, I am willing to discuss ways in which evolution operates, but I am not willing to question evolution. This is not arrogance, this is decades as a scientist including bacterial evidence of adaptation in vitro which are nothing less than mini evolution experiments. A lot of my research was related directly or indirectly with aspects of evolution, I know what I am talking of, hands on approach as far as technology allowed then.

    I will suggest that you think about it with this example: try to cross "naturally" a Chihuahua and a Great Dane and tell me what do you get. People might not be aware of it but on an evolutionary point of view in barely a century mankind might have selected for two different species coming from the same canine ancestor. True, in vitro you can probably sill cross these two breeds but then again you can also cross an ass and a horse, a dog and a wolf and yet no one will consider them the same species. We are not talking her of beliefs, we are talking here of science advancing more everyday and able to calculate very complex genetic trees which cannot be explained in any other way than through evolution.

    There might still be some room to discuss the social engineering that Chaevz is attempting but trust me on that one, there is no room left for discussion with creationists. They have been at it for a century now and any small success they might have claimed against evolution has come back to bite them in the ass as science keeps making the case for evolution stronger and stronger...

    Thus I respectfully suggest that we drop this topic here and instead enjoy the beautiful graphics I posted.

  7. "Evolutionists want you to believe that their view is scientific and that creationism isn't. Evolution has never been proven by experimentation and observation, so it is not a completely scientific view."
    Oh, my Gaaawd!
    Sigh. Look at the kittie, look at the kittie!

    Thanks for the video.
    I have some evangelical friends who were trying to state what Firepigette is stating here when I was a child. Missing link and all that stuff. En fin!

    2%? I'd say 0.2%

  8. Kolya1:16 AM

    Fascinating images. Thanks, Daniel.

    JSB wrote:

    "I've found talking to creationists a lot like talking to PSF's. No amount of data can change their minds."

    Unfortunately, you are correct.

    It's both depressing and amusing to think that many people today still claim that evolution is "only a theory." And this claim is often followed by the obscurantist statement that since both evolution and creationism are unproven theories it is only reasonable to keep an open mind about both of them.

  9. Anonymous3:37 AM

    Astray from the growls and purrs you gave each other, I must ask you Daniel, just for fun and some, where does natural selection and Evolution part? I just found it intriguin, being you delved in the sciences pronouncing evolution.

    Not to take away but to enrich the purring.

    Me myself being quite skeptic, I found myself asking, how did they interpret the making of this videos, It´s a darn big rabbit hole, but don´t ignore my natural selection, err, intelligent design, wow, how human can a perspective get so dualistic; but back to the point, EVOLUTION? LoL, the good kind! NATURAL SELECTION err, conondrum...

  10. Anonymous3:42 AM

    Just had to restate...


    Natural Selection u fiend :P

    or is it?+

  11. I do not know all the details about creationists theory, but, if it is a matter of God, I am puzzled that they cannot accept that there is evolution.Wether one believed or not in God, its existence is, in my view, not incompatible with evolution.

    In fact, I think that the whole problem is not that God exists or not, but if he is deterministic or stochastic.

    Am I right in my interpretation that creationists are people that believe in a deterministic God?

  12. last anonymous

    are we to understand that we can have natural selection without evolution? or is it evolution without natural selection?

    i am afraid you are confusing mechanisms and theories.

  13. Bruni

    Very good.

    Interestingly it is the Catholic Church that has the least trouble with evolution.

    If once upon a time they nailed Galileo, on evolution it has not happened as the Church has decided more or less that if it pleased God to use evolution to create man, more power to him!

    Unfortunately Islam and many evangelical sects cannot cope with that. Many Evangelicals and Pentecostals cannot grow beyond the old Testament; and do not let me start on Islam. The Catholic Church has decided that the real important books were the Gospel and thus the rest were a mere complement where tales could be cleared up while values should be maintained. Hence the main virtue of a Pope and its council in my view, to make their religion outgrow some of its dates tenets and obscurantism. Too bad they cannot deal with such things as child abuse but I digress.

    In a way today evolution has become kind of a litmus test on how adaptable and modern looking a religion is. I let people fill in the blanks on which religion is what.

  14. Anonymous4:47 AM

    Van tres veces que trato de enviar este mensaje, pero no funciona, como todo aqui. Es una belleza estos videos mucho más bello que Guerra de las Galaxias o Avatar, entiendo que uno se facina estudiando Bio, viendo esta faceta de nuestro mundo. Gracias
    La Maga Lee

  15. Kolya6:44 AM

    Since the issue of evolution and religion was brought up, below is a link on acceptance of evolution according to religious affiliation in the US. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Buddhists and Hindus have no problems in accepting evolution. Jews also have a high acceptance rate. The percentage among US Christians is much lower. The majority of Catholics and Orthodox accept it, but few Mormons and Evangelicals do.


  16. If you ever go to England (on a sunny day or otherwise) you might wish to visit Darwin's house, where he wrote The Origin of the Species. It is in a little village called Down, a few miles south of London. I've been there many times, not because I am an evolutionist freak, which I'm not, but because I like to see how a good scientist lived and worked. Darwin had an exemplary family life, and was a rigurous and honest scientist. Definitely my role model. He was not a founder of a sect, nor was he seeking controversy with his theories. Darwin was opposed by many in the British establishment at the time, but that was a long time ago. The controversies live elsewhere, mainly in the Americas. I went to the same university where Darwin and many of his sons went and, saving the enourmous distance, I regard him as a colleague.
    I think I'm free to view evolution by natural selection in the same light as I do Newton's (another University buddy)corpuscular theory of light, or Bohr's atomic theory. Good science, not dogma. No, Bohr went to another university.
    The arguments between evolutionists and creationists must make our colleagues turn in theit tumbs, with laughter.

    Once in London, you might want to visit Karl Marx't tumb in Highgate cementery, for similar reasons. No, I am not a marxist. Dogmatic marxists did a lot of harm to my country, and are mainly responsible for my exile in Englad.

  17. Science-denial, the stress on the supposed subjectivity of science, is another way of preferring the importance of subjective will.

    Leader-states often consecrate the will of one person over all fact; since nothing is necessarily objectively true, especially that obnoxious science, we can all happily follow the Leader's wishes, his desires become law.

    That way, we can criticize the scientist who is concerned about an outbreak of dengue fever, and not the disease itself: he is against the people!

    "La Comisión de Salud del Consejo Legislativo del estado Anzoátegui (Cleanz) interpelará al jefe del Centro de Investigación de Medicina Tropical de la Universidad de Oriente (UDO), Núcleo Anzoátegui, doctor Antonio Morocoima. El motivo de la solicitud es que justifique las declaraciones que ofreció la semana pasada acerca de un presunto brote de esta enfermedad en la entidad."

    If the science were just opinion, wouldn't they be right?

    And finally, the science:http://www.xvivo.net/dengue-viral-fusion/

  18. jeffrey

    thanks for posting the dengue link. i did not want to do it because i had already written enough about my own dengue experience and also because that video was not as spectacular as the ones that i posted and needed explanations that i was not knowledgeable enough about.

    as for subjectivity. it is always the strategy of the ignorant that cannot understand or do not want to understand or understands only too well but reuses to admit it: look at the other side expose and focus narrowly on the weaker point to try to dismiss the whole construct.

    people that do that systematically d not understand how science works, how it has its own self correcting system and how it welcomes criticism (even if it does not necessarily cherish it) as a way to go further in the research of truth. but for the ignorant or wanna-remain ignorant politicians that is not an issue because the political damage is done early in its favor thanks to that general ignorance of the populace abetted by its short attention span.

    right now we have a prime example in the global warming debate. a lot of good science exist to support it but there is also a lot of shoddy one that has been fortunately exposed. but too many people are only too willing to diss the whole global warming on that account and by the time the real science finally completes the picture and convinces of the danger it might be too late.

    evolutionists and globalwarmingists are the modern equivalent of galileo facing dangerous simpletons that are able to create words of the year: refudiate....

  19. Daniel,

    Sorry, I was going to honor your request but as others have extended on the subject , if i may post once more, in a slightly different vein, that I might clarify my view to Kolya and to Kepler who refers to me.

    Koyla ,

    There are many people of all faiths who believe in evolution, and I have nothing against that but I don't think I have the knowledge to know the ultimate answers to the question and immenseness of the origin of the Universe.

    As I said before I am not a Buddhist( though I practice a form of contemplation indigenous to Tibet) which the Dalai Lama practices as well.Basically the spiritual masters are scientists in a way.They methodically observe inner consciousness to discover more and more ways to reach what you might call obscure( and in some ways it is): inner presence.Thus my analogy of cells and inner observation ( see the "poem" above)

    One of the main thoughts driving the contemplative practitioner, is to observe and not to reject.Questions and movements of consciousness are never to end. There is no final answer or stop to anything.

    Our question is: If we stop looking with an open mind,and stop searching when arriving at a certain point, how will growth and the evolution of the mind continue?


    I am not Evangelical.Unless I am wrong I believe they have closed their questioning.

  20. Kolya7:24 PM

    On the issue of common misperceptions about evolution and science in general, one of the problems in the US is educational. Despite its great universities and research institutions, most US schools (elementary, middle and high) do a poor job in teaching young people to think like scientists, to teach them how science works, to teach them that science does not provide ultimate certainty, that science depends on constant revision and is always open to better explanations (a few basic lectures on the scientific method are not enough.) Such teaching should be one of the cornerstones of the curriculum, throughout the first twelve or so years--even if the vast majority of students are not going to pursue careers in the sciences. (By the way, here I'm not referring to the teaching of specific sciences (physics, biology, and so on) but on science itself.)

    It is ignorance of the dynamics of science that lead many people astray when they read about disagreements among scientists.

  21. capitankane8:31 PM

    I send my warmest regards to anyone who has a tailbone, an appendix and who at one time in their life has had wisdom teeth!

  22. Hugo Chavez knows all about evolution; he knows humans have been on earth for almost 2500 years!


    As Robert Paul Wolff remarked about this video: "Oh, Plato didn't make the cut?"


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