An array of new instruments is allowing researchers their closest-ever look at biomolecules inner workings.1 This new view focuses all the way down to the atomic level. And the sights that meet biophysicists eyes are awe-inspiring, to say the least.
A group of Japanese scientists exploring the crystal structure of the F1-ATPase enzyme discovered natures own rotary engine no bigger than ten billionths by ten billionths by eight billionths of a meter.2 The tiny motor includes the equivalent of an engine block, a drive shaft, and three pistons. It runs at speeds between 0.5 and 4.0 revolutions per second. This motor not only ranks as the smallest ever seen, it also represents the smallest motor that the laws of physics and chemistry will allow.
In Germany, a research team used the new instruments to examine an enormous molecule, the yeast 26S proteasome.3 Though not the largest molecule in existence, the yeast 26S proteasome contains over two million protons and neutrons and is the largest non-symmetrical molecule mapped to date. This molecule can only be described as a "wonder." It serves as an intracellular waste-disposal and recycling system. Tiny molecules within the proteasome attach markers (called ubiquitin) to waste material (apparently the cells command center informs the marker molecules which proteins are ready for disposal). Since these ready-for-disposal proteins resemble tangled balls of yarn, the first job of the 26S proteasome, after identifying a tagged protein, is to unfold, untwist, and unravel it. This function is performed by an apparatus at each end of the proteasome.
Once the targeted protein is straightened out, the proteasome drags it into its core and cuts the protein into segments. These segments are precisely measured by a "ruler" inside the proteasome. The cut-up pieces are then ejected from the proteasome, and a "sanitation" fleet (other proteins) drives by to pick them up and sort them, separating the stuff that can be reused from the stuff that cannot.
The complexity of such systemsand these are just two of manywithin both the tiny enzyme and the huge yeast reflect a mind-boggling quantity, not to mention quality, of information. Where did that information come from? Who structured these molecules and taught them to perform their functions? Did blind chance and random process? Are they simply self-programmed? Does anything in reality self-program without intelligent input?
I see these discoveries as a formidable challenge to the assumption that life arose on its own over a few million years.4 Perhaps at least some scientists will be prompted by the new data to reconsider their conclusion, to accept the possibilitymore accurately, the probabilitythat living molecules and all living creatures evidence the matchless brilliance and power of a Supreme Creator.
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