The Fastest Machine On Earth

In 1997, the jet-propelled car ThrustSSC set a land speed record in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. It exceeded 760 miles per hour (about a third of a kilometre per second)—breaking the sound barrier. After the speed run, there were marks on the ground where the shockwave had passed.

solar.orbiter

In 1972, the space probe Helios 2 Orbiter became the fastest man-made machine, travelling at twice the speed of earth’s orbit around the sun. It has a top speed of over 153,000 miles per hour!

Fast machines indeed!

However, there is a machine that far exceeds the capabilities of these devices; a tiny, microscopic machine found within the living cell. This machine, consisting of many disparate parts, can make a complete protein within a fraction of a second. Each protein is folded according to a specific “sequence” of moves. The way the protein is folded, and the resulting shape that it adopts, determines the function that this protein will play within the cell.

Protein_folding

There are more than 23,000,000 protein sequences that scientists have identified within the cell. Current scientific methods take from a few months to many years to determine a single structure. Protein structure prediction requires extremely powerful computers to explore the huge number of possible shapes of new proteins.

Each protein consists of a chain of amino acids. When two amino acids bond together, they can take on one of roughly ten different orientations. So a chain of 3 amino acids can be 10^3 different shapes (that is, ten to the power of 3, or 10 x 10 x 10).

proteinfolding

The fastest folding protein discovered so far is a structure called a 3-stranded beta sheet. As its name suggests, it consists of a surface formed from three strands of protein that bind together. In total, these sheets contain up to 90 amino acids. Therefore, in theory they can take on any of 10^90 different shapes.

pointing_finger2If these shapes were tried at the rate of 100 billion a second, requiring the power and performance of modern-day computers, it would take longer than the age of the Universe to find the correct fold. And yet, more than 7 million of these 3-stranded beta sheets are folded in just one second!

What is your conclusion as to the origin of such a machine? If someone tried to convince you that the Helios Probe came about as a result of freak winds, landslides, and water erosion over many thousands of years, would you find that plausible? And yet, scientists who support Darwinian evolution would have you believe that these microscopic machines are the result of chance events over enormous periods of time!

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