During a person’s life, the elastin in a blood vessel will go through an estimated two billion cycles of pulsation. Elastin’s flexibility allows skin to stretch and twist, blood vessels to expand and relax with every heartbeat, and lungs to swell and contract with each breath.
An international team of researchers has discovered the molecular motions of elastin, one of the proteins that gives blood vessels and skin their strength and flexibility. They found a hierarchical structure of scissor-shaped molecules that gives elastin its remarkable properties. Elastin tissues are made up of molecules of a protein called tropoelastin, which are strung together in a chain-like structure. First they discovered the shape and structure of the tropoelastin molecules. Then they studied the dynamics of the material as it forms large structures that can stretch and rebound. The dynamics turned out to be complex and surprising,. “It’s almost like a dance the molecule does, with a scissors twist – like a ballerina doing a dance”. Then, the scissors-like appendages of one molecule naturally lock onto the narrow end of another molecule, like one ballerina riding piggyback on top of the next. This process continues, building up long, chain-like structures. These long chains weave together to produce the flexible tissues that our lives depend on – including skin, lungs, and blood vessels. These structures assemble very rapidly. A key part of the puzzle was the movements of the molecule itself, which the team found were controlled by the structure of key local regions and the overall shape of the protein.
A researcher said, “Studying how these materials fail under extreme conditions yields important insights for the design of new materials that replace those in our body, or for materials that we can use in engineering applications in which durable materials are critical. Designing materials that last for many decades without breaking down is a major engineering challenge that nature has beautifully accomplished, and on which we hope to build”.
So the amazing features of elastin are attributed to nature. Isn’t nature clever! Apparently its designed and constructed complex materials that last for many decades without breaking down. If it’s more clever than us, then I think it deserves a capital “N” – Nature.
Maybe they should also research what the Bible says, “Through Him (God the Son, Jesus Christ) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (Jn. 1:3NIV).
Written, March 2016
Also see: Evolution is theomorphic
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