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Biotech Robotics Science

Molecular Robot Mimics Life's Protein-Builder 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the robots-are-taking-everybody's-jobs dept.
ananyo writes "The ribosome, the molecular machine that translates our genetic code to build the body's proteins, is a mechanical marvel. Now, chemists have invented a nanomachine that can achieve a similar feat. The artificial system is not about to displace nature's ribosome, a complex of proteins and RNA. It is much simpler, and only about about one-tenth of the size — and, it is achingly slow, destroys the code it reads and can produce only very short chunks of protein, known as peptides. It does, however, show that some of the tactics of biology's molecular machines can be adopted to make useful chemicals. The device relies on a rotaxane — a large molecular ring threaded onto another molecule that acts as an axle (abstract). The axle is lined with three amino acids, and a chain of three more amino acids hangs from the outer edge of the ring. Heating the device prompts the ring to move along the axle, adding amino acids one-by-one to the chain attached to the ring."
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Molecular Robot Mimics Life's Protein-Builder

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    • Bringing the word 'apes' into any discussion about the development of life is sure to aggravate certain groups.
      • by bmo (77928) on Friday January 11, 2013 @02:45PM (#42560235)

        >Bringing the word 'apes' into any discussion about the development of life is sure to aggravate certain groups.

        Good. Let them be mad. Let them rail against reality.

        It's high time we stopped walking on eggs about this issue. There is this fallacy that each person's opinion about the universe is just as valid as another's. As if we have to be polite about them like we have to be polite about the pictures of their kids.

        No. No we don't.

        If you believe the universe was created in 4004 BC at 9am, you are a nut. There are no qualifiers to go with that. Not "you might be a nut" or "some people would disagree with you." No. You're a full-blown nutcase.

        And yes, we are apes. Big naked apes. Deal with it.

        --
        BMO

        • by durrr (1316311) on Friday January 11, 2013 @02:55PM (#42560333)

          I disagree.

          We are actually big clothed apes.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's high time we stopped walking on eggs about this issue. There is this fallacy that each person's opinion about the universe is just as valid as another's.

          That is now the reason I, and at least some others I know, walk on eggshells with such issues. One reason is to not drag other stuff into that crapstorm, as it doesn't help much to turn every biology topic, or even many non-biology topics, into the same tired old argument that has little to do with the particular subject at hand. The people who get into such arguments, especially when unprompted or off-topic, are not the type that are going to change their mind any time soon or find an epiphany in an inte

          • by bmo (77928)

            >If you don't care about teaching such people, you can ignore the second one.

            I've tried to teach people. I've had a discussion on here that exemplified what happens.

            I took someone at his word that he was serious about being a Young Earth Creationist, that he had a valid opinion, and that maybe I could convince him otherwise by appealing to his belief that God is All Powerful, and that, really, the literal biblical Creationism bullcrap is merely a limit by Man on what God can do, because "who the heck ar

        • by Anonymous Coward

          We usually reserve the word "nuts" for people why have views outside the norm in their community.
          For most of the creationists, their foolish views are absolutely inline with the local norms. These folks haven't gone off the rails on their own, they've been dragged along by a know-nothing movement that is rampant in America.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If you believe the universe was created in 4004 BC at 9am, you are a nut.

          Equally nutty is anyone who states that they know for a fact that the universe is millions and billions of years old. Anything you think are "facts" regarding these events are just observations and conclusions of puny little human brains. "But we have scientific proof!", you say. Only as far as our understanding of things, only as far as our puny little human brains can comprehend.

          I think big-bang creation of the universe is less likely than the FSM (blessed be his holiness) creating everything. Who are you

          • by bmo (77928)

            Then why create models of anything ever?

            The scientific method works because the universe is consistent and not arbitrary. That you can create models and test them against reality. It's far better than Aristotle's gedankeneperiments on how things "should" work instead of investigating the reality.

            For example, we know that light has a speed and that it's pretty consistent throughout the universe and that the physics concerning light tells us how far away things are. If a photon has been travelling

            • by Ambvai (1106941)

              I've played with this as a thought exercise, and my favorite result is that the entire universe, along with given rules, etc. started from a single random seed and propagated out following those rules at high speed. Then, some 4000 years ago, God sat down and started the actual interesting part of things.

              Alternatively, for the Sim[X], Dwarf Fortress, etc. players among us, the first few billion years were in the loading screen and the last few thousand years have been a part of active gameplay.

              Not that I ac

            • by HiThere (15173)

              While I "sort of" agree with you conclusions, I totally disagree with your certainty.

              1) You can't prove the universe is logically consistent. That's an assumption.
              2) You can't prove that the universe wasn't created one nano-second ago, with all evidence in situ.
              3) You can't prove that this isn't a computer simulation.
              4) ...this list has gone on as long as I have patience, but it can be extended ad lib.

              Note that no valid estimate of the probability of any of the above is even possible. Where they are consi

              • by bmo (77928)

                You're seriously arguing for Last Thursdayism? Really?

                --
                BMO

                • by HiThere (15173)

                  Actually, I am. But only as a part of an ensemble of other theories. So if "Last Thursdayism" recommends a course of action that the perponderance of the ensemble recommend against, I don't perform the action.

                  Well, in a theoretic sense, that's what I'm arguing in favor of. As a computational short cut I use the model recommended by the Standard Model. But that doesn't imply certainty, what it implies that that most of the models recommend the same course of action as the Standard Model in most circumsta

                  • by bmo (77928)

                    But that is merely arguing for hypotheses that are untestable.

                    Science doesn't revolve around the untestable. We leave that to metaphysics and religion. Stuff we can't test, even mathematically, we can't do anything with, and testable things have gotten us where we are today in terms of scientific and technological advancement. Aristotle's penchant for thought experiments, trying to bend the Universe to how it *ought* to be, as opposed to how it *is* by direct or even indirect observation, held back scien

                    • by HiThere (15173)

                      To rule out an idea because you can't test it is an indefeasible bias in favor of your current ideas, which also can't be tested WRT the differences in assumptions of the other "untestable" ideas.

                      One may argue that a certains set of ideas is more pragmatically useful than other ideas that are consistent with the observations, but that's not the same as arguing that they are true. We may be living in a computer simulation. It may be such a limited simulation that you are the only real entity. These can be

                    • by bmo (77928)

                      To rule out an idea because you can't test it is an indefeasible bias in favor of your current ideas

                      You're using that word wrongly....

                      But when one is trying to determine truth, one needs to work with the ensemble of all ideas consistent with current observations....and then add a large helping of uncertainty.

                      OK, so I'm being trolled.

                      Bye.

                      --
                      BMO

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Anything you think are "facts" regarding these events are just observations and conclusions of puny little human brains.

            That is true of all facts, opinions and thoughts, and not just regarding those particular events. And yet, despite many people acknowledging the fallibility of human thought, they are able to move on and live practical lives applying those fallible facts.

        • If you believe the universe was created in 4004 BC at 9am, you are a nut. There are no qualifiers to go with that. Not "you might be a nut" or "some people would disagree with you." No. You're a full-blown nutcase.

          What if you're brought up on a desert island and that's all you've ever been told? And you have no facilities or education to determine otherwise?

          Not that I don't see your point. I'm just a hopeless pedant and feel it necessary to point out that there are qualifiers to go with that, and there are plenty of shades of grey from my example up to a well-educated but close-minded Christian fundamentalist.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        Bringing the word 'apes' into any discussion about the development of life is sure to aggravate certain groups.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCdBZHBs0y0 [youtube.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        yeah, but we're talking about microscopic robot apes here.. how cute is that?

  • Bring on the booster spice. ;-)

  • People like Sergey Brin are working on putting IC's into the human body, but this is the real future of melding man and machine.

    How long before we as a race are more machine than man?

    • by AaronLS (1804210)

      Not disagreeing, but I imagine people won't perceive these things as machines. It will be such a gradual adoption. Not many people think of glasses, hearing aids, hip implants, pace makers, etc. as being robot/machine like. Since people generally won't widely use anything until it is comfortable and offers more benefits than hindrances, these products will tend towards designs that are less noticeable. We probably will move towards being cyborgs, but no one will call it that, except for the rare introsp

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OMG lol!! That animated video of this nano-machine working totally reminds me of myself when I'm drunk. I walk around trying to see how many beer cans I can stack on my head until they fall off!! I'm a macro-scale version of this thing!!

  • I dub thee (Score:5, Funny)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Friday January 11, 2013 @03:31PM (#42560771)
    Robosome.
  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:52PM (#42562931)
    Just askin', 'cuz this looks like step one . . . hooray for progress!
  • It certainly seems like at this point due to its low transcripting speed it is of limited usability . But as with most innovations the main creative step has been taken already. Moreover modifing the sidechains of amioacids or alterations alike in this molecular ensemble may lead to batch of discrete function protein builders which is much more interesting as it offers diversity wih respect to ribosomes. For funding, research and peer finding please refer to the non-profit Aging Portfolio.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

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