What the Shed Looks At

Monday, June 15, 2009


Scientists can be very poor teachers at times. Despite the fact that they teach in our universities, they often fail at conveying their message to the public at large. There is an element of arrogance as well, they simply feel the layman doesn't have the background to understand the more complicated ideas associated with their cutting edge research. I personally have never felt this way. I have always found most attempts to explain some of the more mysterious aspects of science to be lacking. Its almost like they stop short out of fear, like they may cause confusion that would do more harm then good.

There really is no wonder that ideas like creationism are on the rise. There is no shortage of truths and lies out there, what is missing is the accessibility of the former. In this new age of media it surprises me that it has taken this long for good quality video that really gets into the nitty gritty of some really fundamental ideas.

Origins the Series
Please, find the time to watch this and understand it. Unfortunately it is hosted on Youtube and is subject to viscous attacks by creationist. Their tactics are incendiary and the antithesis of actual debate, but you don't have to read the comments.

Origins Part I

The video attempts to explain what we now think very early organic chemistry was like, and how the building blocks of life came to be. The theories make use of bubble-like lipid chambers that trap small organic compounds called monomers that self-polymerize to form longer chains. The eventual result is RNA. The process, called Abiogenesis, eliminates the need for the hand of God, so it really rubs creationists the wrong way it seems. The main criticism I have, and this is true for all this person's videos, is he is much too abrasive to the very people he should be trying to convince. Just like Bill Marr's movie Religulous, he has given up on creationists entirely, but at the same time he knows that they are part of his audience. This attracts a lot of negative criticism.

Please don't let the vocabulary intimidate you. There are a lot of words here that I had to look up to better understand this process. I'm going to lay out my research for you guys.

  • Lipid - The first few paragraphs pertain to the video. Lipids involved in Abiogenesis are much simpler then the ones mentioned in Wikipedia.
  • Phospholipid - The lipid comprising a cell membrane.
This is a model of the advanced cell membrane lipid referred to in the video.
  • Protein - Wikipedia has a lot of info on proteins. These are the chemical machines of life, and the are very complicated. Science doesn't fully understand the structures of most of these molecules, let alone their functions'.
As a side note, check out Foldit; a computer game involving proteins.
  • Vesicle - or more specifically Liposome. Simple lipids form into bubbles in solution.
This is all of course a theory, but a much better explained and researched one then anything I have seen from creationism. More education is needed, and we can't be afraid to tackle these subjects, nor should we be afraid to teach and learn difficult to understand concepts. I find this shit fascinating, and I have a much easier time grasping it with well though out visual aids like this.

More crap:
Astronaut simulates lipid vesicles with candy corn! (video)


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