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October 5, 2008 5:08 AM   Subscribe

A Hunter-killer stalks its prey in your bloodstream.
posted by orthogonality (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh, this reminds me of the cartoon I used to watch as a kid that had people, heck entire societies, living in the body fighting diseases and such. I'm just a bit disappointed that these micro killers don't wear orange space suites and that there aren't any cute black haired chicks hanging around. Oh well.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:25 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?
posted by Faze at 5:33 AM on October 5, 2008


Your 1st link: I cheered when the neutrophil finally swallowed up that pesky bacterium. Yay, neutrophil!

Your 2nd link: "...the blood of a graduate student..." Priceless!

Your 3rd link: Isn't it just cute as hell how all those cells bob around?

Your 4th link: Interesting.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 AM on October 5, 2008


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

...and I suppose you believe that you're intelligently intervening?
posted by jammy at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Heh, this reminds me of the cartoon I used to watch as a kid that had people, heck entire societies, living in the body fighting diseases and such.

Once upon a time - Life. One of the best educational cartoons ever.
posted by hoskala at 6:00 AM on October 5, 2008 [9 favorites]


But how do the neutrophils sense the chemo-attractants from such a relatively long distance? It's a bit like a shark smelling blood from a mile away. Nature is just so cool.
posted by JeffK at 6:25 AM on October 5, 2008


Neutrophils are such bad asses. Busting it up all over the place! When their numbers are low they send the baby neutrophils out to fight and die that's how hardcore they are.

how do [they] sense the chemo-attractants from such a relatively long distance?
From what I like to think of as the Scouts in Operation Infection: histamine, kinins, leukotrenes and complement are a few, floating around looking for trouble to report back.

Here's my quicky but perhaps verbose explanation of the Immune System Army [self mefi answer link].
posted by dog food sugar at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Freaked me out as a kid when one ate Donald Pleasence in Fantastic Voyage
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:02 AM on October 5, 2008


I still don't like Donald Pleasence because he was such a dick in that movie.
posted by Mister_A at 7:30 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn. I'd hoped this was about macrophagi. They consume bacteria by phagocytosis!
posted by Eideteker at 7:32 AM on October 5, 2008


Heh-Heh-you said phag!
posted by TedW at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


wow. Those videos are amazing! Thanks orthogonality.
posted by nickyskye at 7:55 AM on October 5, 2008


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

I realize that the proper way to deal with people who feel the need to troll internet forums is to ignore them, but, really... what the hell?
I've never seen it done, here at my beloved MetaFilter at least, so horribly.
Please go away.
That said, thanks for a very interesting post orthogonality.
posted by Jeeb at 8:00 AM on October 5, 2008


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

If God is responsible for my allergies then I hate the fucker.
posted by srboisvert at 8:12 AM on October 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


dog food sugar - That was brilliant. Thanks.

Jeeb - I think that was a joke. Lighten up.
posted by JeffK at 8:20 AM on October 5, 2008


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

Nah, I made them in Spore. Next up, I'm gonna add cilia and color them pink!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:28 AM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


""evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions"

Not millions. Trillions upon trillions of collisions, planetwide, every second of every day for over 5 billion years.

Abiogenesis is very poorly understood, as there is no direct historical evidence. However, scientists have been able to create complex amino acids and organic chemicals directly from inorganic chemicals, simply by recreating what are believed to be the conditions on earth billions of years ago. Energy+chemicals+time=organics.

The next step is theorized to be that some of these these precursor organics had the characteristic ability to replicate, probably much along the lines of how inorganic crystals are able to promulgate an organized pattern simply by falling into place at the molecular level. Once replication occurs, then it's a simple thing to introduce mutation into the mix, and mutation is the key. Almost all mutations are dead ends. Some are not.

It is well known that bacteria were pretty much the only life on earth for a very, very long time before there was anything else. It is not known for certain what was going on before that, but we can make some pretty fair educated guesses. The key word in that phrase is educated.
posted by Xoebe at 8:30 AM on October 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh the irony... I'm sick as a dog a the moment, though I suspect it's antibodies I need.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2008


Those are pretty cool videos! I was also glad to see a shout out to Once Upon a Time... Life. The whole Once Upon a Time... series was great, in fact. I loved that show when I was a kid.
posted by Kattullus at 9:11 AM on October 5, 2008


Can't talk now - being attacked by a predatory meme shark.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:12 AM on October 5, 2008


...and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

Yes.

Another fascinating component of the innate immune system is the complement system. Complement proteins that are floating around in your bloodstream essentially snag on to non-self cells and polymerize to form a pore in a bacterium's membrane, causing it to rupture. This system is found in many species, including non-mammals such as fish and plants.
posted by extramundane at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


and I suppose you believe this whole complex immune system just sort of "evolved" out of millions of accidental collisions of molecules, without any intelligent intervention?

Very good point. That does strain my credulity. Especially the part where the accidental collision of molecules created sentient beings who think the more likely scenario is that some old bearded dude in the sky made it all up in six days. That just couldn't happen all by itself.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've never seen it done, here at my beloved MetaFilter at least, so horribly.
Please go away.


Where is Kibo when we need him?
posted by sneebler at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2008


Anyone who has shared a fridge with a roommate knows that life can -- and does -- happen spontaneously, without intelligent intervention.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:51 AM on October 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Deep breath, friends. I'm positive that Faze was being ironic.
posted by lostburner at 12:10 PM on October 5, 2008


Oh wow. This totally reminds me of a comic strip I used to draw when I was in grade school: The Germs versus the Anitbodies. They had little helmets and little swords and little shields, and used to fight it out in various organs around some vague anonymous human body.

God I was I weird child.
posted by trip and a half at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2008


erm, a weird child. There you go.
posted by trip and a half at 1:03 PM on October 5, 2008


Watch your back, Roomba.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:40 PM on October 5, 2008


I'm full of tiny shoggoths!
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:45 PM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you like this kind of stuff, I encourage you to read Parasite Rex.

And not related to the immune system, but a great book, Microcosm.

Two of the best books I've read this year.

Can anyone recommend something like that about the immune system?
posted by dirty lies at 3:54 PM on October 5, 2008


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