Cellular animations: 2010

Long time readers of ERV know that I have a soft-spot for animated depictions of cellular processes. Yes, they are beautiful (to a fault). Yes they are a neat way to explain complex topics to people. But I love them due to the sheer volume of lulz they provide when Creationists try to do them.

See, scientists use animations for educational purposes.

Creationists use them for misinformation. They present the animations as if they are for realsies video recordings of things going on in cells– “OOOH! Look how PERFECT it all works! Look how PRETTY it all is! IT MUST BE DESIGNED!”, when scientists are careful to point out that animations are simplifications, and reality is kinda a mess.

But Creationists have a problem. As much as they love animations of cellular processes, they lack the basic scientific knowledge and computer animation skill set to create these animations on their own.

So they steal them.

At Dembskis infamous appearance at OU several years ago (he was raeped by undergrads, lol!), he stole an animation from XVIVO/Harvard/HHMI.

The producers of EXPELLED stole the same animation for their movie, as well as from several other sources, but after Dawkins tipped our hand, and they delayed the official release to changed it (the replacement is still hysterical, though).

So I was interested to see an article in the NYT today on ‘Molecular Animation– Where Cinema and Biology Meet‘.

They interview the Harvard group, and tons of scientist-animators from other institutions. Here is a great excerpt:

Gaël McGill, Digizyme’s chief executive, says access to this data is critical to scientific accuracy. “For us the starting point is always the science,” Dr. McGill said. “Do we have data to support the image we’re going to create?”

Indeed, while enthusiasm runs high among those directly involved in the field, others in the scientific community are uncertain about the value of these animations for actual scientific research. While acknowledging the potential to help refine a hypothesis, for example, some scientists say that visualizations can quickly veer into fiction.

“Some animations are clearly more Hollywood than useful display,” says Peter Walter, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of California, San Francisco. “It can become hard to distinguish between what is data and what is fantasy.”

Dr. McGill acknowledges that showing cellular processes can involve a significant dose of conjecture. Animators take liberty with color and space, among other qualities, in order to highlight a particular function or part of the cell. “All the events we are depicting are so small they are below the wavelength of light,” he said.

Contrast that position vs Creationists, who think these animations are real life (or pretend they do in front of an audience).

XVIVO has a new animation on mitochondria.

And apparently the Australians that the DI stole from? One of them just won a MacArthur award. HA! Thats the closest any Discovery Institute dipshit will get to one of those.

Cellular animations– help teach science, provide lulz, yeah, I kinda love em :-D

Comments

  1. #1 sadpanda
    November 16, 2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrS2uROUjK4 – Powering the Cell: Mitochondria

    While very pretty to look at it would have been nice if they had included subtitles or annotations to explain what the heck is going on. :(

  2. #2 Tristan Croll
    November 16, 2010

    I’m a big fan of these sorts of animations as well. The story I like to remember is the debates over promoter sequences in the genome, and in particular the resistance to the idea that a sequence a few tens of kilobases upstream could affect transcription of a gene. How long would that resistance have lasted if the WEHI animation of transcription had been available?

  3. #3 DrDuke
    November 18, 2010

    There are also some pretty cool atomic/molecular level animations being made. The Sanbonmatsu lab at Los Alamos National Lab has done real molecular modeling of the ribosome. This is not artist’s rendering, it begins with the 3D crystal structures and uses atomic force calculations to show how the tRNA moves into the ribosome if a good fit is made between the codon on the mRNA and anticodon on the charged tRNA.
    http://www.t6.lanl.gov/kys/The%20Sanbonmatsu%20Lab_files/Movies/index.html

  4. #4 William Wallace
    November 18, 2010

    I come from the opposite view. Basically, I find it funny that evolutionists have to resort to depictions, recreations, animations, PBS documentaries, and so and so forth to “educate” (read: indoctrinate). Of course, they are simplifying an invented idea (macro evolution) without much hard evidence, so you can’t blame them.

    So they steal them.

    More myth making.

  5. #5 Tyler DiPietro
    November 18, 2010

    “Of course, they are simplifying an invented idea (macro evolution) without much hard evidence, so you can’t blame them.”

    You don’t appear to know the difference between cell physiology and speciation. The idea that you have a brain would appear to lack any hard evidence.

  6. #6 Der Bruno Stroszek
    November 19, 2010

    Willie, Creationists do all the stuff you mentioned too. It’s just that their animations are usually of farting judges and their documentaries are full of lies. Of course when you’re simplifying an idea like creationism which is already completely idiotic, that’s what you get.

  7. #7 harold
    November 19, 2010

    William Wallace -

    Of course, they are simplifying an invented idea (macro evolution) without much hard evidence, so you can’t blame them.

    Okay, I want to be fair. Let’s forget about the theory of evolution for now. What I want to do is familiarize myself with the evidence for intelligent design so that I can objectively decide which is the best explanation for the diversity and common features of life on earth.

    Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any evidence for intelligent design, but I’m sure you’ll help me out. Just give me independently verifiable, evidence based answers to the following questions. Don’t bother to reply unless you answer the questions.

    1) Who is the designer?

    2) What did the designer design, precisely? One objectively verifiable example will do.

    3) When did the designer design it?

    4) How did the designer design it?

  8. #8 biology
    November 22, 2010

    The story I like to remember is the debates over promoter sequences in the genome, and in particular the resistance to the idea that a sequence a few tens of kilobases upstream could affect transcription of a gene.

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