What it still can't show, though, is how fast things happen down there. Even sizeable biomolecules have so little mass that they zip around at biological temperatures. Protein folding that strains supercomputers to model can happen in a fraction of a second, in many places around a cell at once. I wrote recently in a comment thread at Derek Lowe's fine Pipeline weblog:
"As a science writer... I've found that the statistical aspect is hardest to get across, and failure to grasp it underlies a lot of misunderstandings. Use the lock-and-key metaphor for inorganic catalysis or enzymes, and laymen nod. You've gotten somewhere -- but you've also reinforced the imagery of macroscopic mechanisms. They're not thinking of a statistical jiggle with thousands of 'keys' being tried per second, so the enormous enhancements of reaction rates are still kinda magic..."
- Current Mood: enthralled