When we first released “The Inner Life of Cell” back in 2006, we were met with kudos and awe. What we had chosen to depict, for the sake of clarity, was open intracellular space, and the smooth, almost premeditated action taken by molecules within the cell. Of course, this was somewhat of a misrepresentation; we have long known that the inside of a cell is packed full of proteins, and ones that don’t remain still nor glide toward their destinations. At that scale, and in that environment, nearly everything that happens is guided by intermolecular chaos and the rules of probability.
Though we may often take some artistic liberties for the sake of clarity, what we realized about this visualization was that it seemed to discount how diseases develop internally. “Inner Life of the Cell” was about a healthy leukocyte responding to an inflammatory signal, but it provided no hints into how diseases might progress in the absence of external sources. So, together with our collaborators over at Harvard, we decided to create “Protein Packing.” We hope that in our newest piece, our viewers can appreciate and speculate how small disturbances in that sort of chaotic environment could drastically alter the function of the cell, leading to much broader consequences. We hope that this gives people a better, clearer lens through which to think about our body and what goes on inside it.
Our animation was featured in the NYTimes today by Carl Zimmer, who discusses many of the ideas we mentioned above. Head over to the website and read his piece, “Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug.” We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our work recognized, and extend to him our sincerest thanks!
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