Monday, November 22, 2010

the love that moves the sun and other cells

It was, one might say, a tweetable moment. At an interdisciplinary conference, the Nobel Prize winner Eric Wieschaus showed some beautiful videos of cell movement in flies. He then confessed that biologists still can't fathom what makes those cells move, that "magical step that we don't yet understand." He said it with the gentle, wide-eyed wonder that - quite plainly - made him Nobel Prize material. But seeing it was an interdisciplinary conference, it felt legitimate to call to mind the last line of Dante's Paradiso, which accurately identifies "l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle." Or, as it were, "celle." We really do need a biological Dante - someone who can look in as he looked out.