How life’s energy was born in deep-sea rocks
ATP: The currency of life. It’s one of the first things we learn in intro biology classes. This energy-rich molecule, whose simple phosphate bonds contain the thermodynamic potential to drive a great deal of our biochemistry, stands with nucleic acids and proteins as molecular cornerstones of life on Earth.
But how did the enzymes that synthesize ATP arise? It’s sort of a chicken/egg problem. You need ATP (and other energetic molecules, like GTP) to make proteins, so how do you make proteins without ATP? The cell’s gorgeous ATP factory, ATP synthase, is the primary source, using the flow of hydrogen ions to manufacture new ATP molecules. Look how amazing this molecular machine is:
So where does that hydrogen ion energy originate? Today we have elaborate cellular pumps to create that “ion gradient”. A new theory presented in Cell might help resolve the hydrogen chicken/egg problem. Early proto-cells, created in porous rocks around hydrogen-rich undersea thermal vents, may have been able to steal hydrogen through the thin rocks to create their ATP, their rocky pores serving as tiny test tubes for the creation of early organic molecules.
Then, when they began to float freely in the sea after further evolution on the rocks, these proto-cells tweaked another ion transporter, a sodium pump, to help maintain the hydrogen gradient once they left their rocky evolutionary birthplace.
Ed Yong has more about this amazing “origin of life” story at Nature News.
Via Joe to the Izzoe
Freaky face sculptures made out of dismembered doll parts.
There are many of her illustration in the new book The Unfeathered Bird
Go get this book- its at the top of my wish list!!
Caleb Charland demonstrates lessons in physics and mathematics with his mind-blowing photography. Inspired by children’s books of science experiments, he photographs everyday objects (like matches, pens and mirrors) in ways we’ve never imagined, often using multiple exposures to tell the story. (via Science, art and photography intersect | ScienceDump)
Using matches to make DNA
This is Huxtable. He was a very loved cat, and now he is very loved bones.
Huxtable the Cat
“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – 3D printers are amazing. The technological wonder that allows us to create 3D objects simply by scanning them into a computer has the potential to revolutionize everything. There’s even been talks of how to apply 3D printing to create sustainable food for countries with low food reserves. The most amazing use of 3D printing, however, comes in the form of printing human organs for transplants.
While 3D printing seems like its out of sci-fi, the technology has actually been around since 1984 when Charles Hull created the first 3D printer. The cost of the technology, however, has kept it out of the public eye for most of the last 20 years. It was only until recently that universities and even regular Joe-types began to be able to afford the tech.
Let’s jump to today when 3D printing is now taking off and scientists are using it to make groundbreaking discoveries in the world of science and medicine. This wonderful infographic from the fine folks at Printerinks shows how far 3D printing has come from its humble origins and how scientists are using the tech to grow organs.
As we learned back when researchers were creating working blood vessels with a 3D printer, the process is as simple as it is complex. It starts with the growth of cells. The 3D printer comes into play when they are used to create a layered structure that’s then layered with cells that attach to the structure and turn it into the organ.
With our current technology, it’s estimated that it would take 10 days to print a liver. As technology improves, it’s estimated that scientists could print a liver in three hours. That’s great news for the thousands of people who are waiting for a live transplant to save their life.
The creation of organs through 3D printing has another, less talked about function, as well. If we could test drugs on 3D printed human livers, it would save millions of dollars and years of time that it takes to develop and test new drugs on animals before it’s even considered for human testing.
As you can see, 3D printing is seriously the most important invention of the 20th century. The only problem is that the technology doesn’t get enough credit for the potential it has. As long as I live, I hope to sing the praises of 3D printing from the rooftops until I need new lungs created through 3D printing to replace my old ones.”
This is really interesting and cool, but what freaks me out about new technologies and advances in medicine is that we may all live for much too long. I guess maybe I am not securing myself for death by smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, because by the time I’m 40 and get lung cancer they can just print me new lungs.
Your brain by the numbers.
Credits: Dwayne Godwin/Jorge Cham
Source (Scientific American)
A family scene from The Life and Correspondence of William Buckland, D. D., F. R. S. by Elizabeth Oke Gordon, 1894.
Thank god for Kanye Wes tumblr.
The Darjeeling Limited / Gone
There’s no higher honor than contributing to 826 Valencia’s Quarterly, a collection of writing by the kids’ writing classes at 826. The Rumpus managing editor and Pen & Ink co-founder Isaac Fitzgerald wrote a wonderful introduction and i got to draw the cover and interior illos. Stop into the Pirate store and pick one up - all $$ supports 826.