Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The power of the visible is the invisible

Tom's orb-weaving spider creates a structure of astonishing sophistication, Calatravan in its beauty and structural finesse. For a human engineer to build such a thing would require many years of training and a team of specialists.

Yet the spider is born knowing its craft. Those glorious orbs are encoded in its genes in the same "four-letter" chemical code that is the basis for all life on Earth.

Of course, the DNA doesn't whisper, "now do this, now do that." The DNA makes proteins. No one yet knows how proteins compel and instruct the spider to spin its web. We have learned the language of the genes. We know how genes make proteins. Now we must now learn how proteins make spiders that spin webs.

(And humans that spin blogs.)