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 SNS Subscriber Edition Volume 18, Issue 5 Week of February 2, 2015 





The Ultimate Biocomputer:

Brain or Cell?

Part II




In This Issue




The Ultimate Biocomputer:
Brain or Cell? Part II


The Real Story of Cells

Zooming Down Through

Layers of Complexity

Complexity Through Multitasking

The Cell As Computer

The Cytoskeleton

The 3D WBSS Computer / Manufacturing Platform

The Many RNAs

Things About RNA
That Should Blow Your Mind

From Computer to
Network to Computer

The Real Brain-Inspired
Compute Environment


Quotes of the Week


Takeout Window

Cell Signaling Maps


Upgrades and Numbers

Samsung Korea:

The Copier Gets Copied




Member News & Links


Upcoming SNS Events


Where's Mark?


[Please open the attached .pdf for best viewing.]



Recommended Reading:

The Sony Hack and Nortel's Demise: Piracy vs. Crown Jewel Theft - Mark's latest piece on





The Ultimate Biocomputer:

Brain or Cell?


Part II: The Cell


This issue is dedicated to SNS member and my good friend David Brin, who had the hoped-for "aha" moment at the end of Part I (see "Ethermail").



The cell is often portrayed improperly, in terms of parts, size, and dynamic processes. In starter classes, it is often displayed as a static thing with outsized parts one can memorize: nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum.


Students of all ages recall these things, with their one-paragraph descriptors, much in the vein of  "the mitochondria supply energy to the cell via ATP; they are the cell's little power plants."


On this rudimentary level of understanding (which is about all I had, leaving Stanford in earlier days), the cell is seen as being relatively simple. The prevailing dogma goes something like this:


         DNA is a double-stranded molecule containing the instructions for life

         RNA copies these instructions, and runs over to the

         endoplasmic reticulum, where, using

         ribosomes, it makes

         proteins, which, acting as catalysts, run the cellular machine.

         Mitochondria provide the energy for all of this, via ATP molecules, and

         mitosis occurs when cells need to start over again, by dividing.

         The cell is a kind of wet bag of stuff, enclosed in a membrane made of lipids and other things, which lets some things in and some out.


For most of us who were exposed to this level of education, it might be best just to wipe the blackboard clean and start over again. Yes, all of the above descriptions are essentially true; they are just drastically incomplete.


So, let's reboot:



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