It will be a while before nanotechnology can make artificial molecular machine systems as amazing as nature’s, but we can be inspired and get great ideas from what biological nanotech already does. On the Strangepaths.com blog we can see a very cool video animation of DNA replication, complete with sound effects (not realistic sounds of course, but possibly helpful in parsing the action):
This animation shows the “assembly line” of biochemical machines which pull apart the DNA double helix and output a copy of each strand. The DNA to be copied enters the whirling blue molecular machine, called helicase, which spins it as fast as a jet engine as it unwinds the double helix into two strands. One strand is copied continuously, and can be seen spooling off on the other side. Things are not so simple for the other strand, because it must be copied backwards, so it is drawn out repeatedly in loops and copied one section at a time. The end result is two new DNA molecules.
I could not tell who should get the credit for this fascinating work, but will update this entry if someone can send this info. —Christine UPDATE from the post’s author: “The credit is available at footnote 1 of the blog post.”