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Darwin's Black Box

Michael Behe
Darwins Black Box
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Darwin's Black Box

Michael Behe

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While most scientists accept Darwin's theory of evolution, biochemist Michael Behe offers many solid objections based on the scientific advances and discoveries of the last 50 years. Exploring vision, cellular transport, and other complex biological mechanisms, he comes to the conclusion that life must have been designed. 307 pages, from Strand

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About "Darwin's Black Box"

While most scientists accept Darwin's theory of evolution, biochemist Michael Behe offers many solid objections based on the scientific advances and discoveries of the last 50 years. Exploring vision, cellular transport, and other complex biological mechanisms, he comes to the conclusion that life must have been designed. 307 pages, from Strand
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Virtually all serious scientists accept the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution. While the fight for its acceptance has been a long and difficult one, after a century of struggle among the cognoscenti the battle is over. Biologists are now confident that their remaining questions, such as how life on Earth began, or how the Cambrian explosion could have produced so many new species in such a short time, will be found to have Darwinian answers. They, like most of the rest of us, accept Darwin's theory to be true.^But should we? What would happen if we found something that radically challenged the now-accepted wisdom? In "Darwin's Black Box," Michael Behe argues that evidence of evolution's limits has been right under our noses -- but it is so small that we have only recently been able to see it. The field of biochemistry, begun when Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical shape of DNA, has unlocked the secrets of the cell. There, biochemists have unexpectedly discovered a wo
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1. Lilliputian Biology2. Nuts and Bolts3. Row, Row, Row Your Boat4. Rube Goldberg in the Blood5. From Here to There6. A Dangerous World7. Road Kill8. Publish or Perish9. Intelligent Design10. Questions About Design11. Science, Philosophy, Religion293 Pages
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CHAPTER 3: ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT PROTEINSAs strange as it may seem, modern biochemistry has shown that the cell is operated by machines -- literally, molecular machines. Like their man-made counterparts (such as mousetraps, bicycles, and space shuttles), molecular machines range from the simple to the enormously complex: mechanical, force-generating machines, like those in muscles; electronic machines, like those in nerves; and solar-powered machines, like those of photosynthesis. Of course, molecular machines are made primarily of proteins, not metal and plastic. In this chapter I will discuss molecular machines that allow cells to swim, and you will see what is required for them to do so.But first, some necessary details. In order to understand the molecular basis of life one has to have an idea of how proteins work. Those who want to know all the details -- how proteins are made, how their structures allow them to work so effectively, and so on -- are encouraged to borrow an introductory biochemistry textbook from the library. For those who want to know a few details -- such as what amino acids look like, and what are the levels of protein structure -- I have included an Appendix that discusses proteins and nucleic acids. For present purposes, however, an overview of these remarkable biochemicals will suffice.Most people think of proteins as something you eat. In the body of a living animal or plant, however, they play very active roles. Proteins are the machines within living tissue that build the structures and carry out the chemical reactions necessary for life. For example, the first step in capturing the energy in sugar and changing it into a form the body can use is carried out by a catalyzing protein (also known as an enzyme) called hexokinase; skin is made up mostly of a protein called collagen; and when light strikes your retina, the protein called rhodopsin initiates vision. You can see even by this limited number of examples that proteins are amazingly versatile. Nonetheless, a given protein has only one or a few uses: rhodopsin cannot form skin, and collagen cannot interact usefully with light. Therefore a typical cell contains thousands and thousands of different kinds of proteins to perform the many tasks of life.Proteins are made by chemically hooking together amino acids into a chain. A protein chain typically has anywhere from about fifty to about one thousand amino acid links. Each position in the chain is occupied by one of twenty different amino acids. In this they are like words, which can come in various lengths but are made up from a set of just 26 letters. As a matter of fact, biochemists often refer to each amino acid by a single-letter abbreviation -- G for glycine, S for serine, H for histidine, and so forth. Each different kind of amino acid has a different shape and different chemical properties. For example, W is large but A is small, R carries a positive charge but E carries a negative charge, S prefers to be dissolved in water but I prefers oil, and so on.When you think of a chain, you probably think of something that is very flexible, without much overall shape. But chains of amino acids -- in other words, proteins -- aren't like that. Proteins that work in a cell fold up into very precise structures, and the structure can be quite different for different types of proteins. The folding is done automatically when, say, a positively charged amino acid attracts a negatively charged one, oil-preferring amino acids huddle together to exclude water, large amino acids are pushed out of small spaces, and so on. Two different amino acid sequences (that is two different proteins) can fold into structures as specific and different from each other as an adjustable wrench and a jigsaw.It is the shape of a folded protein and the precise positioning of the different kinds of amino acid groups that allow a protein to work (Figure 3-1). For examp
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Meet the Author

Michael Behe

Michael J. Behe is a Professor of Biological Science at Lehigh University, where he has worked since 1985. From 1978 to 1982 he did postdoctoral work on DNA structure at the National Institutes of Health. From 1982 to 1985 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Queens College in New York City. He has authored more than forty technical papers, but he is best known as the author of "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution." He lives near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and nine children.

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Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 118717
  • Product Code 0684834936
  • EAN 9780684834931
  • Pages 320
  • Department Academic
  • Category Science
  • Sub-Category General
  • Publisher Simon & Schuster
  • Publication Date Apr 1998
  • Dimensions 213 x 141 x 20 mm
  • Weight 0.295kg

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