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Life's Ratchet: How molecular machines extract order from chaos

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Peter M Hoffmann
Basic Books
Image of the cover of the book “Life

PainSci notes

A wonderful but difficult read about the dazzlingly complicated chemistry and nanoscale “machines” that are the most basic explanation for how living things work. As books go, it doesn’t get much more difficult or rewarding. Although the history of science will bore many readers, it’s impossible to appreciate what we know today without hearing the story of how we got here. It is amazing how much we figured out by inference decades, centuries, even millenia before we had the tools to actually examine these things. And, now that we can, they are still among the hardest things to understand that humans have ever grappled with.

Chapter 7, “Twist and Route,” is about the molecular machinery of movement and muscle: the motor proteins kinesin, myosin, and dynein. “There is not one type of kinesin, myosin, or dynein doing one type of job. Instead, like a fleet of customizable trucks, there are superfamilies of molecular motors, with eighteen known classes of myosins, ten classes of kinesins, and two classes of dyneins.” This rabbit hole goes deep.

~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher

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