Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 7th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

10 May 2018

Geometry of Life

Life is more than just genes and cells; we sometimes forget about the important forces of nature that keep everything physically together. Tensegrity is a term used in biology to describe how tension and compression work together to hold everything in place. Because of tensegrity, living systems can bend and reshape without breaking when they encounter external forces, similar to when a strong building moves during an earthquake without collapsing. Researchers have developed a new model, which combines biological research simulation and computer animation to study the role of tensegrity in living systems. This animation shows tensegrity in action in an individual dynein molecule, found in a sperm cell’s tail. The model has allowed scientists to understand how tensegrity dictates life’s movements at different scales, all the way to the level of individual atoms.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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