More than a year ago I picked up a copy of American Scientist magazine, partly because it had a cool article about nanotechnology with these beautiful images of biomolecules. Then, without reading it, I put the magazine aside for a long long time. Happily, it reappeared from under a crumbling pile of unread material and I did read it this time (serendipity like this reinforces my worst pack rat instincts). The article, Biomolecules and Nanotechnology, is really first rate. The author, David Goodsell of the Scripps Institute, takes a Steven Vogel style approach to thinking about the natural world, just at a much smaller scale: how do we apply engineering thinking to biological systems? The result, along with the illustrations created by the author, offers many aha! insights about why biological systems behave the way they do.
I was inspired, so I went to Goodsell’s web site where I became more inspired, and now I’m ordering a copy of his book (used, because sadly it is out of print) The Machinery of Life. There should be a lot more writing like this, but I am grateful that there is any at all.
From his web site I discovered this article about his illustrations published in the San Diego Union Tribune providing a little background on the artist and his work. The inset picture I display here is an illustration of the cell membrane and flagellar motor of an E. coli bacterium.