We know a lot about the molecules inside cells but there are still big question marks around how they organize themselves:
But at the crucial in-between scale, a big question mark remains: How do the right proteins organize themselves in a sea of fluid swarming with millions of molecules? Do they bump into each other by chance, or does the cell actively organize its fluid space to bring the correct partners together?
The latter appears to be true, according to recent research at the intersection of physics and biology. Over the last decade, cell biologists have come to appreciate what many believe to be a whole new way that cells shape their internal landscape. Like blobs merging, then dispersing, in a lava lamp, or a salad dressing that separates into bubbles of oil and vinegar, groups of proteins can sometimes congeal into distinct droplets. One key way these droplets form is through a process called liquid-liquid phase separation.
Exactly what happens within these droplets largely remains a mystery…Alla Katsnelson, “Tiny liquid droplets are driving a cell biology rethink” at Knowable
And it all just somehow sloshed into existence, right?
See also: Why do many scientists see cells as intelligent? Bacteria appear to show intelligent behavior. But what about individual cells in our bodies?