Meat is Neat: Cellular biophysics video
October 27, 2006 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Meat is Neat. We are but tiny machines. Remember the YouTube video of a funky animation of cellular activity? Here it is with a voice explanation of what's going on. Absolutely mindblowing. some sort of embedded video, dsl-quality with sound. see here for other forms
posted by five fresh fish (34 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm finding this mind-blowing to watch. That we know so much about the mechanics and physics of life is just incredible.

We seem so fractal in nature: as complex as our minds are, our cells are equally complex and yet in a wholly mechanical manner.

It's going to be absolutely bitchin' when we know how the brain works as well as we do these parts of cell biology...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 PM on October 27, 2006

I understood about half of what the narrator was saying, and about twice as much as I did from the silent animation. really awesome, but it makes me kinda itchy.
posted by carsonb at 8:39 PM on October 27, 2006

(don't worry carsonb, the leukocytes are taking care of that for you)
posted by bonehead at 8:42 PM on October 27, 2006

It was fun watching the ribosome take a protein dump in the endoplasmic reticulum.
posted by aliasless at 8:54 PM on October 27, 2006

Cruder animation of the same process. While "Inner Life" is a wonderful visual menagerie detailing the workings of leukocyte extravasation, I find the simpler depiction a bit more digestible for understanding the basic interactions behind the process.
posted by brownpau at 9:29 PM on October 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ya know 'life' was much simpler to 'understand' when it was all magic.
posted by MrLint at 9:44 PM on October 27, 2006

This player doesn't seem to want to play with videodownloader, anyone know how to download a copy of the superspeed version downloaded?
posted by scodger at 9:53 PM on October 27, 2006

Wow. I watched the non-explanation version about a dozen times yesterday, just marveling at what what probably going on in my body.

Now that I see that there's a narrative to it? Way, way too cool for words.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:09 PM on October 27, 2006

I have my own Golgi Apparatus?! Crap, I just PayPal'ed some joint in NY a bundle in a "BuyNow" eBay bid, and now they're insisting I invest in an accessory kit. This is going to make for an awkward AskMe...
posted by maryh at 11:03 PM on October 27, 2006

Man, we are seriously complex.
posted by nightchrome at 12:54 AM on October 28, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, consider Lewis Thomas.

1974's "The Lives of a Cell" deserved its accolades. Here's a brief interview.

"Luminous phrasing" aptly describes his writing.

"The viruses, instead of being single-minded agents of disease and death, now begin to look more like mobile genes...We live in a dancing matrix of viruses; they dart, rather like bees, from organism to organism, from plant to insect to mammal to me and back again, and into the sea, tugging along pieces of this genome, strings of genes from that, transplanting grafts of DNA, passing around heredity as though at a great party."

Each of us contains a whole universe. One single loss is a tragedy. Consequently, there is no word that comprehends the losses of war.

"... And yet no man sees it."
posted by Twang at 1:38 AM on October 28, 2006

Fascinating, fantastic, interesting ! The protein motor also beats any mechanical engine I can imagine.
posted by elpapacito at 3:43 AM on October 28, 2006

I wish they took some time to better define their terms early on. I kinda-sorta understand what they're talking about (covalent bonding, for example), but there are so MANY oddball terms and they throw them at you so quickly that it's hard to sort out what they're actually saying.

I think they'd improve intelligibility a lot if they simply slowed the narrator to half speed. My ordinary mortal brain needs more processing time.

Still... super cool. Thanks for the post.
posted by Malor at 3:52 AM on October 28, 2006

Very, very cool. I think I'm in love with motor proteins too. There are a lot of words I don't know the meaning of, but I never imagined there were so many words I'd never even heard of. When he mentioned I-cams, I had a sneaking suspicion the whole thing was an elaborate joke.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:53 AM on October 28, 2006

I'd like to see a feature-length movie like this in a cinema, a tour within the body.
posted by Termite at 4:26 AM on October 28, 2006

Is there an English translation?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 AM on October 28, 2006

posted by rxrfrx at 6:00 AM on October 28, 2006

I found I had to pause and rewind every thirty seconds, just to get a faint grasp on what mechanism was actually being shown and how it essentially worked. And I still find large parts of it — Golgi Apparatus, frinstance — a complete mystery.

It's enough to shake one's faith in mathematics.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 AM on October 28, 2006

Insane in the membrane.
Thanks five fresh fish.
posted by peacay at 8:45 AM on October 28, 2006

It's enough to shake one's faith in mathematics.

How's that?
posted by rxrfrx at 8:47 AM on October 28, 2006

posted by Rhomboid at 9:47 AM on October 28, 2006

It was fun watching the ribosome take a protein dump in the endoplasmic reticulum.

I am so turned on right now.
posted by BaxterG4 at 11:16 AM on October 28, 2006

Wow, I've realised I look so much more interesting microscopically than macroscopically and my body uses a lot of odd words, so it must be pretty smart!.
So all those floaty bits can't be wandering around in air, so I guess it must be goo*, right?

* Proper Scientifical Term.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:48 PM on October 28, 2006

Just brilliant.
posted by Arcaz Ino at 1:31 PM on October 28, 2006

It's enough to shake one's faith in mathematics.

How's that?

As one watches the wozzit trundle up the thingummy, dragging that big bag of stuff behind it, all because the cytoplast emitted a chain of genetic material in reaction to an imbalance in a complicated soup of organic chemicals, an obviously deliberate act on the part of a cell that is nothing more than an incredible machine... well, it just seems wildly impossible.

I remain convinced that it's all a big equation, but I doubt we'll ever comprehend it.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:12 PM on October 28, 2006

Zack: apparently the truth is that the animation doesn't show most of the cell contents. It is, in fact, packed wall-to-wall with a soup of active chemicals, so dense that if it had been animated in, we wouldn't be able to actually see what the animators were showing us.

The bits where the cell walls were shown as a jostling sea of small strands, no gaps between the molecules? Same applies to the cell interior, but moreso.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2006

More biological and cellular animations! With all this fun stuff, I think college is different now.
posted by Dougoh at 2:22 PM on October 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Maybe the nutter "Gaia Theory" is correct after all: read this and compare it to what happens in the cell! Conditions change, genes are expressed, and the world around changes...

...just in the video, the "world around" is more meat, while in the news item, the "world around" is the ocean and atmosphere.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on October 28, 2006

i'm taking a bio 101 course right now, so it was fun to watch this since i know what a golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum are, among other things. very cool.
posted by lisalisa123 at 5:05 PM on October 28, 2006

I always have an almost religious sense of awe looking at the complexity of even the simplest biological processes-- and it's easy to see how someone might find it hard to believe that such complexity evolved via random mutations and natural selection. Of course, that is because of the limitations of our minds in imagining the time scale-- but it still amazes me that all that insanely complicated stuff happens every second of our lives.

And then when you think about reproduction and development and how quickly that all occurs and so often normally...

I still don't buy Gaia though-- makes zero evolutionary sense.
posted by Maias at 6:30 PM on October 28, 2006

Dunno, Maias.

Seems to me you need a self-stabilizing environment if you're to have any chance of organic soup becoming complex life.

In other words, systems must have evolved to specifically moderate the sulpher balance, or it wouldn't have been possible to have brainy life. It wouldn't surprise me if our survival depends on the health of innumerable viruses and bacteria.

We'd be toast if the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in our soil die. We'll be toast if the sulphur-fixing plankton in our oceans die. Essentially, we live and die by how we treat the smallest amongst us!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:30 PM on October 28, 2006

scodger et. al.: here's the direct download link to the 47,4mb flv file. convert it for your ipod with isquint (mac) or super (pc).
made by the funky folks at xvivo; more stuff on their site.
posted by progosk at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2006

Did the voiceover make anyone else think of the retro-encabulator? Having zero bio knowledge I can't say I found it particularly enlightening, but still fantastic to see and good to know that someone out there knows what it's all doing.
posted by chrispy at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2006

To further elaborate on FFF's response to Zach_replica's floating in goo question, yeah, there are a lot more components in the cell that they haven't shown. Remember the parts talking about the actin filaments and microtubules? Well, those are in a thick matrix packed all through the cell, and basically nothing "floats," the proteins are carried along those structures in a very well regulated way (using the super awesome walking motor proteins), just like they showed with the vesicle.

(I love this)
posted by twoporedomain at 4:32 PM on October 29, 2006

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