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The design of life in molecular machines


Here’s a new video from the C.S. Lewis Society, featuring Paul D. Ashby, Ph.D. (Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley):

Maxwell’s Angel: God and the Physics of Design in Life’s Molecular Machines

The phenomenal efficiency of molecular machines doing the work of cellular function has captured the imagination of scientists from earliest times that our most powerful microscopes could explain them. Whether they are using fuel to power the chemical reactions in the cell or making an organism move, molecular machines work more efficiently than any man-made machine. And thermodynamics is the investigation into the interplay of these different forms of energy both at the macroscale and down to molecular interactions.

In this video, Dr. Paul D. Ashby argues that the field of thermodynamics needs to move into the information age to understand how design is essential for creating more efficient machines like those in the cell. Building from the simple analogy to steam engines, he walks the viewer through some principles of thermodynamics and uses the classic thought experiment of “Maxwell’s Demon” to show that information is as essential as energy to the creation of useful work. He continues with a description of a few of the enzymes involved in metabolism and the high levels of design required for their function. Lastly, he addresses the inability of an unguided natural process such as Darwinian evolution to generate the design found in nature.

Bacteria can even create nanowires in soil to transport electrons for the benefit of neighbor bacteria in less nutrient-rich areas of the soil: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/electric-mud-teems-new-mysterious-bacteria EDTA

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