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November 11, 2007

Mapping: The Inner Life of a Cell

One of the things that I have tried to do with English 240 so far is make connections outside of the class and look to make those connections with what most would consider nontraditional poetry. Being an Engineering student, this opens up many possibilities to try and find the rhythm and poetry in things that might not be looked at from this point of view. One example where I recently found this hidden poetry was in the short animation titled 'The Inner Life of a Cell' produced by Harvard BioVisions, which can be viewed below.

To an average observer, it might just appear to be a short video clip with bridges building, rivers flowing and other organisms crawling around, but of course it is much more complex than that. For myself, the realization came after the initial wow factor wore off. Once I got a chance to think about what was happening as I was watching is when the biggest revelation came, and my engineering background took some of the fun out of watching everything crawl across the screen. The things that were 'crawling' and 'building' were just the result of a series of chemical reactions. When watching the video a first time, things seemed to move about with a mind of their own, each piece thinking by itself and working together to accomplish a goal. But then I was reminded of the title, and what was actually happening. My limited understanding of BioChemistry limits me somewhat, but with that basic understanding, the reason that everything is moving the way it is, and doing the things that they're doing, is all driven from the chemistry behind it.


Yes mapping! The entire video is a map. What the video represents is a rather cinematic interpretation what the chemical reactions going on within a cell look like. The goal of this 3D interpretation was to help people who are not chemists or molecular biologists gain an understanding of what is actually happening inside cells. Still though, the same dilemmas are encountered as when trying to map a more traditional poem, different people have different interpretations. To the average person, the clip will probably just appear to be a video of things moving around inside a cell. But to someone with an understanding of the science behind it, they might feel its accurate to what is happening, try to make the connections to what is going on with each piece, or even have a critique of what isn't realistic and what could be changed to make the clip a better representation.

The clip with an explanation of what is going on at each step can be viewed below.

Posted by ndjames at November 11, 2007 05:07 PM


Great post! Thank you for it.

A series of reactions: precisely!
--precisely what I attempt to map in my naking of poams.

The "interactions" that Limited Fork studies can alse be called/are series of reactions.

Yes; each part a whole and each part contributing to another whole --precisely!

Systems, systems; dynamic, complex systems.

Thanks for the illuminating videos.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 26, 2007 03:31 PM

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