Here’s a Nature article about “active matter.” There’s excitement on the part of physicists (not for biologists, apparently) about this new breed of experiments that physicists are conducting and exploring. No more “dead matter” for them.
So, how did they conduct this experiment in “active matter”? Let’s listen:
First, Zvonimir Dogic and his students took microtubules — threadlike proteins that make up part of the cell’s internal ‘cytoskeleton’ — and mixed them with kinesins, motor proteins that travel along these threads like trains on a track. Then the researchers suspended droplets of this cocktail in oil and supplied it with the molecular fuel known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
To the team’s surprise and delight, the molecules organized themselves into large-scale patterns that swirled on each droplet’s surface. Bundles of microtubules linked by the proteins moved together “like a person crowd-surfing at a concert”, says Dogic, a physicist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
I think most of us here at UD instantly recognize what’s going on. These scientists–unwittingly–are demonstrating the IR (irreducible complexity) that makes up basic cellular processes. IOW, you have two types of proteins—intended to work in cooperation with one another; i.e., so ‘designed,’ if you will—and then add the energy source of cellular mechanisms: ATP. And what happens? Life-like movements.
What we see happening is an indication that it is not sufficient to have either the ‘microtubule’, nor the ‘kinesins’, nor the ‘ATP.’ What’s needed is that they be put into the same micro-environment together.
The ‘kinesin’ and ‘ATP’?: nothing; the ‘kinesin’ and the ‘microtubule’?: nothing; ‘ATP’ and ‘microtubule’?: nothing.
Now, all of this proves that each can be treated as a separate part. But something has to bring them all together in some fashion. In the case of this experiment: it was the experimenters who brought them together onto a micro-environment. They did so ‘purposively’; that is, in an ‘intelligent’ fashion.