Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart January 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

In the video below we take a look at the beautiful and rather psychedelic world of intracellular life. These animated images show in stunning detail how molecules containing the genetic instructions that form life, DNA, fold up to form chromosomes (46 compact packages of genetic material) so the cell can divide. Cell division is of course necessary for creatures to grow or to replace older cells in bodies. More importantly we need some of those chromosomes to share our genetic material and to produce a next generation of Derren-loving hairless apes.

In total there is 6 feet (1,8 meters) of DNA in every single one of our 50 trillion or so cells. They would, if you put all of these strands of DNA together in some mad and evil experiment, reach to the sun….and back… for over four times! How’s that for some juicy facts to impress a crowd of your choosing?

You’ll also see how the DNA is split and copied from one original strand in the first place. In a rather roundabout (literally) way, you will agree.

The video is especially powerful for highlighting some of the more ‘random’ elements of our inner workings. Amino-acids and proteins move around in a cell like tiny drunken sheep, intoxicated by small atomic forces and just bump in to each other, after which which their unromantic mechanical coupling begins to start the chain reaction leading to folding, replicating and a thousand other functions. No direction, no mind, just a jittery recombination of atoms that complements each other. So stunning and enthralling, we just call it life.

Thanks to It’s Okay To Be Smart for pointing out this lovely video. Find a longer version, with more of the stunning animations below:

January 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

That is just amazing. It seems to work like a tiny photocopier. I wonder if it ever jams.

January 17, 2012 at 11:10 am
Oskar says:

And Mr Berry is an exceptional nice guy as well.
A few years ago I sent him a email thanking him for his animations as I was really impressed by his work.
Later that same day I got a reply where he asked if it would be OK to send me his animations. I said OK and a few weeks later I got a DVD and a VCD disk with all his animations.

January 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

This is incredible. I want to see more!

January 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm
Glenn says:

By my (rather dull) calculations, the length of DNA in each person is even more impressive than 4 return trips to the sun. It seems to actually be over three hundred round trips.

50 trillion cells x 6 feet = 300 trillion feet (300 plus 12 zeroes).
1 mile = 5280 feet.
300 trillion feet of DNA divided by 5280 = 56,818,181,818 miles of DNA (56billion, 818million)

Distance to sun = 93 million miles, return trip 186 million miles.

56,818,000,000 (DNA miles) divided by 186,000,000 (sun round-trip miles) =

305 round-trips to the sun.

I’m sure someone will point out if I’ve missed something. Happy pub quizzing.

January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I think that things such as ‘Downs syndrome’ and other defects as such are results of a mis-copy somewhere down the line. Don’t hold me to it though, I’m not a biologist xD

January 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm
Tinka Vlk says:

amazing videos.. thanks for sharing it with us!

January 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm
John Gittins says:

So, this is life! Is it really the end result of billions of random molecular events. I could now be convinced otherwise.

January 18, 2012 at 12:00 am
Exeo says:

It is, John! Scientists have written their own DNA codes, inserted them into cells, and they were alive. It’s all that “simple”.

January 18, 2012 at 12:51 am
Rab says:

John Gittins, don’t be a sucker.

January 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Truly amazing videos – science at its best. What a wonderful insight into some of the mechanisms at work in the workshop of life.

Is life the end result of billions of random molecular events – I think not.

Intoxicated by small atomic forces (Is that an anagram for – I have no idea what drives these processes)

Don’t get me wrong I love science and I think it does truly amazing things but until someone tells me what all these atomic forces are, there origins and if they have purpose or not then they need to stop using words like “Random” instead of “I don’t know” or “We are just scratching the surface”.

Until we can understand all the forces of nature that shape our world and universe and their origins & purpose we are not in a position to determine if life is a random event or not.

January 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm
Shaun Banks says:

@Exeo Said: “Scientists have written their own DNA codes, inserted them into cells, and they were alive. It’s all that “simple”.”

Dr Venter who performed this experiement said:

“Like a program without a hard drive, the DNA doesn’t do anything by itself. But, when the software is loaded into the computer – in this case the second bacterium – amazing things are possible, he said”

Which would clearly indicate that the creation of synthetic DNA is not a kin to creating life but instead creating the blue print of what that life will be. As shown in the previous blog and in Dr Venter’s comment it is the activities that occur within the cell etc that creates the life.

Software is nothing but line after line of code and it needs a computer to run it to make it functional.

January 22, 2012 at 12:04 am
sasidave says:

You really are awesome and your paintings blow my eyes off!

January 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm
alan says:

replace older cells in bodies.
A recent TV documentary showed youngsters practicing open-source genetic engineering in a community centre.
Recipe for longevity: Take one Gran, and the relevant non-ageing DNA command string from a certain jellyfish. Note. If she also glows in the dark, that’ll prove an asset in regard to all the inevitable nightly visits yet to come.

January 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: And yet you’d be hard pressed to get that computer to work without those lines of code. A program needs a hard drive to run it, but a hard drive without programming is just a fancy coaster. Both parts are essential to the end result. The DNA isn’t alive without the cell, but the cell isn’t alive without the DNA, either.

January 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna : The computer without a power source is little more than a rock. What are the small atomic forces and why do they do what they do? Am I to assume that the forces of nature that shape our world and universe are just magical or they just exist because they do or just they are just a product of randomness creating order?

All lines of code need to be translated and executed as machine code which is basically a system of instructions based on logic – sounds like intelligent design to me.

Mature red blood cells do not contain DNA?

January 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm
Berber Anna says:

Not only do they exist because they do, the ‘order’ we see is only the way it is because they exist that way. Adapt the forces of nature, and you get an unimaginably different universe (which might exist somewhere, if the multiverse theory holds ground). You can’t look at the end result, say ‘it’s perfect’ and infer design. It’s not perfect, it’s perfectly adapted to the laws of physics that shaped it. That’s not so much order as it is balance — the end result of every natural process.

Mature red blood cells don’t contain DNA, no. They don’t contain a nucleus either, and can’t reproduce on their own (they’re formed in the bone marrow). I wouldn’t say they’re truly alive without that capacity (reproduction being one of the criteria of life), but I suppose opinions may differ there.

January 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: “Not only do they exist because they do, the ‘order’ we see is only the way it is because they exist that way.” Sounds like make believe to me. If we were to climb to the top of the vast mountain of our current knowledge we would be able to clearly see the abyss of the unknown.

“You can’t look at the end result, say ‘it’s perfect’ and infer design” – I never did. A perfect design is paradoxically impossible in a world of unlimited knowledge & even in a world of finite knowledge it could not exist subject to the universe’s atrophy. Perfection is fleeting in an ever changing and decaying universe.

Perhaps the design is a self perpetuating, self evolving never ending loop which continuously seeks to improve on it’s previous design and perhaps the end goal is not a physical one

January 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: “That’s not so much order as it is balance — the end result of every natural process.” As the universe is in a constant state of decay I do not think that everything is in a state of balance.

January 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: “You can’t look at the end result, say ‘it’s perfect’ and infer design” I can if I want to and you can say it is not.

January 26, 2012 at 10:00 am
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: The closest I will ever get to creating perfection is my son but even then that perfection remains fragile subject to his environment and the passage of time and therefore he is not completely perfect in every way. He is my unfinished masterpiece though as I could not create anything better.

Obviously when he gets to an age where he wants money and begins to disagree with me then he won’t be as perfect as he used to be

February 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm
Amy says:

Actually crazy.. Im studying science and we just watched this clip the other day, I know this will sound terrible but I fell asleep soon after it ha ha.. sometimes I sit and ask myself “what are ya at doing a science degree?”.. But anyways just mad coz we were talking about you derren through the lecture.. see maybe we do have like a “connection” lol xxxxxxxxx

February 8, 2012 at 10:40 am
Shaun Banks says:

@Berber Anna: I am half way through reading the God Delusion at moment and I am realising that some of your views mentioned above are clearly from this book.

I have just got to chapter 5 & at the moment I have to say I can some up the book in one word – “Kindling” in that its best use would be for starting a fire to keep warm with.

Talk about selective perspective. I understand that he does not want to be a boring agnostic but making the pieces fit with improbability and selective relgious views etc is nothing more than cerebral masturbation from an elitist scientist who so far has only demonstrated that he has an old short sighted view on the universe. I hope that continued reading will illuminate me with an opinion radically different from this one but it does not look promising

February 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm
Berber Anna says:

Shaun: That’s interesting. I’ve just started on The God Delusion, but I’m currently still in chapter one. Maybe Dawkins’ process of thought is akin to mine, then.

If you want to think that an ultimate creator, a great driving force behind everything, is less of a leap than laws of nature driving random processes, then go ahead. I find the universe makes much more sense — and is way more beautiful — as a random string of coincidence.

February 10, 2012 at 7:16 am
Shaun Banks says:

@Berber Anna: I had assumed that since you were an Atheist that you had read this book. A lot of the science referenced in the book is common science knowledge which corresponds with your views. I am not suggesting Mr Dawkins thought processes are akin to yours I think better of you than that.

With regards to an ultimate creator, I believe consciousness is the ultimate creator. What else could conceive, perceive and believe it.

February 12, 2012 at 9:33 am
Shaun Banks says:

Berber Anna: With reference to my previous comments above, I meant Entropy and not Atrophy. I had an operation before xmas and I have been on pain killers. since (My mind has not quite been my own).


New and exclusive items

FEATURED Infamous Brochure

Infamous Brochure