Cells Designed To Use Important Physical Mechanisms

It’s an amazing thing that cells are designed to use physics or otherwise we would not be able to exist. Two papers (here and here) were published in PNAS not long ago. Harland, Bradley, and Parthasaranthy studied the forces working in cell membranes. Lipid bilayers provide the structural framework which gives the cell membranes movement. It was previously believed that simple Newtonian fluids were able to keep them intact.

But researchers have found evidence to the contrary…“we find that membranes are not simply viscous but rather exhibit viscoelasticity…” which is a type of deformation which exhibits the mechanical characteristics of viscous flow and elastic deformation. The membrane is stretchy and it requires something to pull it apart. “The fluidity of membranes is crucial to functions such as the assembly of proteins into signaling complexes and the controlled presentation of macromolecules at cell surfaces…”

In other words, we could not live without membranes that are designed on how to take advantage of viscoelastic properties. Last September, UC Davis studied quantum mechanics – the Complex I macromolecular complex which was recently discovered machinery that resembles intelligently man-made in having a railroad-like piston and coupling-rod mechanism. The piston creates a proton gradient which then drives the ATP synthesis. It requires energy from food and stores it as chemical energy in ATP molecules for energetic activities in the cell. From humans to one-cell animals like bacteria, this is a vital important process for the existence of life!

Hayashi and Stuchebrukhov discovered that Complex I takes advantage of electron tunneling – a phenomenon in quantum mechanics…

“The whole electronic wiring of complex I is obtained by combining tunneling pathways of individual processes, as shown in Fig. 3.  It is clear that specific peptide residues serve as electronic wires connecting neighboring Fe/S clusters; individual electron tunneling paths involve up to three protein residues, including two cysteine ligands and one additional key residue (Table 1).  Notably, the clusters in the protein are oriented in a specific way—corner to corner—with Cys [cysteine, an amino acid] ligands mostly pointing toward each other, which is clearly the most efficient way to transfer electrons from one cluster to another.”

Did scientists drag into this incredible discovery the evolutionary story to remind us that this came from a non-thinking process?  Well, they did decide to show it could not happen by observing what happened with mutants when they tested them and then came out with this conclusion…

“The key residues identified in this study as mediators of electron transfer (Table 1) are remarkably conserved among different organisms.”

These cells are designed with precision of these machines.  The efficiency of electron transfer in Complex I , for example, it depends on precisely-placed amino acids and water molecules down a fairly long chain. The fact is these amino acids are unevolved which means altering them would cause major problems including causing death. Creationists and evolutionists recognize mutations as a process that occurs but genetic drift and stabilizing selection are level or downhill processes.

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3 thoughts on “Cells Designed To Use Important Physical Mechanisms

  1. Michael: “It’s an amazing thing that cells are designed to use physics or otherwise we would not be able to exist.”

    This has to be one of the dumbest statements Michael has made to date. I HEREBY CHALLENGE HIM TO DESCRIBE A CELL THAT DOES NOT USE PHYSICS. Or to imagine a planetary orbit that does not use physics. Or a rock. Or a shoestring.

    Such dim-witted declarations are what make us wonder what possible qualifications Michael might exhibit to assert anything in any field of science.

    Michael exhibits wide-eyed wonderment that something as small as a cell can employ “advanced” physics, such as quantum mechanics or viscoelesticity. As usual, his fallacy lies in his assumption of design—he cannot conceive that anything can happen unless some intelligence wills it so..

    An intelligence, of course, learns as it goes along. “Advanced” physics might have some kind of meaning to a being, such as his conception of God, let us say, who understands only primitive concepts at first, and then learns more and more, until he finally grasps quantum tunneling and dark matter.

    On the other hand, if we consider the laws of physics (or chemistry, or thermodynamics, etc) as having certain implications and consequences, then the concept of “advanced” physics” makes no sense whatever. Elementary particle are quantum phenomena, and always have followed quantum laws—quantum mechanics is not an exotic concept to them. They did not suddenly “learn” quantum mechanics after they had been around for 6,000 years or so. If there are laws deeper then quantum mechanics, or implications that we still know nothing of—do the quarks ignore those laws or implications until we humans find out about them and call them “the new advanced” ph7ysics? No. They follow those laws and demonstrate those implications now, whether we are aware of them or not.

    Thus, what Michael thinks of as an aspect of design in fact demonstrates the power of natural laws. And the power of science to find those laws. As opposed to creationists, who sit on their thumbs with drooling ignorance, explaining nothing. Both creationists and scientists stand in awe of the universe. But the awe of understanding trumps the awe of ignorance every time.

  2. What’s the point?

    Maybe I should start debating Mormons again…At least I get more out of them than I do with Creationists…

  3. krissmith777: “Maybe I should start debating Mormons again.”

    No A debate implies assent to reason. But, as Kurt Vonnegut said, :”One cannot reason with someone for whom reason does not count.”

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