DNA Like a Liquid Crystal

We’ve known for about 60 years now that DNA will align into liquid crystals given a long enough strand.  New research has just been done that shows that much shorter strands than we had expected are able to align in this way as well.  This is really cool work and worth checking out.  Of course, this works quite well with a design inference, so don’t let the Darwinista tell you any different.


6 responses to “DNA Like a Liquid Crystal

  1. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I fail to see any design inference. To the contrary, the authors point out a new natural way of assembling short DNA strands into long ones. When short strands form a liquid crystal, neighboring strands are lined up, which makes it easier to form bonds between them. Formation of liquid crystals is a well understood natural process. It’s simple thermodynamics.

  2. professorsmith

    Actually, they seem to have not found a new way of doing anything, rather they’ve found that short strands could do this all along. The thing is that it supports the design inference. Why else would these cells line up as they do, unless they were designed to do so? Naturally they would line up so? That’s like dealing a royal flush multiple times, which happens in normally crystalline structures, but not in cellular structures, because the bonds are different.

  3. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I’m afraid I don’t buy the design argument.

    Lots of different molecules are able to form the nematic phase (the specific type of a liquid crystal observed by Clark et al.). There is nothing special about them, except that these molecules are rigid rods that repel each other (thus bonding isn’t needed). What drives the formation of this phase is entropy. Though it might sound counterintuitive, the lined-up nematic structure possesses a higher entropy than a completely disordered state of these rods.

    So, to a physicist, liquid crystals are no more special than ordinary ionic crystals. They’re just a phase of matter and a fairly generic one at that.

  4. professorsmith

    Why am I not surprised that a materialist such as yourself doesn’t buy the design argument?

    Explaining how it happens doesn’t argue against design. Why do you not understand that? Do you think that I’m hinging on “God did it” so all you have to do is come up with an explanation for how and I’ll say, “Well, I guess God didn’t do it after all?” Too bad for you, ID is science, so your mechanistic explanations don’t disprove my argument.

  5. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    A long time ago Napoleon asked Laplace why there was not a single mention of God in Laplace’s treatise on celestial bodies. Laplace famously replied that he had “no need for that particular hypothesis”.

    The same applies to liquid crystals. We know how they work. There is a quantitative theory of nematics that originated with Lars Onsager and has been thoroughly tested both experimentally and in numerical simulations. A rod-like shape, some rigidity and repulsion is all one needs to make a liquid crystal. The concept of the God is as superfluous here as it is in celestial mechanics.

  6. professorsmith

    Thank you for proving that you are arguing against straw men.

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