Life: histories and visions


This posting was first published at The Urban Times.

There are many people fascinated by life out there. Since explaining mechanisms in details is generally tedious and tough, making images out of them makes the task somehow easier. Science and art: amazing marriage!

The inner life of the cell

According to one of its creators David Bolinsky, this movie was born because they “wanted to make something that would give people a strong sense of a cell — not as a list of topics to be studied, not as a compendium of tables and graphs and charts, (but) as a bustling, immensely purposeful metropolis populated very, very densely by these micro machines that do a huge amount of work at great speed and great precision and purposefulness.“.

And I should say: they were fully successful! This stunning movie tells the story of a leukocyte‘s trip within the human body in a case of an inflammatory response. The leukocyte’s membrane receptors (in violet) are recognized by the receptors expressed at the surface of endothelial cells (in yellow). Once the leukocyte enters the cell, the real inner life is brilliantly depicted. You can see the cytoskeleton and one type of his components: the microtubules. Those are small tubes, as their name indicates it, and they are quite particular: one of their extremity is destroyed whereas the other one is built. This is shown in the movie. What you also see is the kinesin, a molecular motor. This is precisely the cute molecule with what resembles to feet, “walking” on the microtubule. You can also see how messenger RNA go out of the nucleus, the translation is initiated and the resulting protein goes to a special part of the cell where it undergoes some modifications prior to secretion. The Golgi apparatus (the pankake-like dynamic structure) is responsible of making vesicles containing the proteins to be secreted and the kinesin I just mentionned brings them to the cell membrane.

You can watch the stunning movie here

The “central dogma”

If you are a biology student or you recall some biology classes from the High school, you surely recall the “central dogma”. It is defined as the way information is transferred from DNA to proteins through RNA. The animation is a production from RIKEN Omics Science Center (RIKEN OSC) for the exhibition “Beyond DNA”, held at the National Science Museum of Japan. While “The inner life of the cell” is nearly poetical, “The central dogma” is much more mechanistical: the images make you think of some science-fiction ones. Even the music is much geeker. Since every step of the information processing is thouroughly described in the video, I will not go into details.

You can watch the movie here.