Talk:Molecular biology

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Another quote on molecular biology:

"Molecular biology is the art of taking a fine Swiss watch, smashing it with a sledge hammer, and then trying to figure out how it worked."

Has anyone else heard it and know the source? -- Marj Tiefert

Yes, I have. It comes from an outdated and wrong statement by a Nobel Laureate in 1937: "To improve a living organism by random mutation is like saying you could improve a Swiss watch by dropping it and bending one of its wheels or axis. Improving life by random mutations has the probability of zero." -Albert Szent-Gyorgi, Nobel Laureate (Medicine, 1937). Quote is highlighted about 60% down the page Szent-Gyorgi obviously didn't understand the concept of natural selection and how simple survival of the fittest could turn "random mutations" into the raw material of evolutiion. Smart people say stupid things all the time, we should not integrate those statements into an encyclopida. maveric149
Natural Selection weeds out mutations because mutations cause harm to an organism. The Second law of Thermodynamics states that things always tend to go to a state of more disorder, not more order.~~Ezalb~~
I had always heard that nuclear physics is like smashing a clock and then looking at the peices to figure out how atoms are put together. Gbleem 06:34 Jan 21, 2003 (UTC)
Smart people keep their mouth shut when they are not familiar with the subject, because they know it is very likely that they'll say something stupid. -- Boris 23:52, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
The quote of Laureate, if it is the source, may now be considdered dated, it was true at that time. My opinion is that the quote on top is dated now as well. If you consider electromicroscopy, the illustration for the bluntness of tools from a macroenvironment, which we use to influence a microenvironment, may be true. But several techniques used nowadays are in vivo, and use microenvironmental tools like plasmids. I think the primary problem at this moment is that the microenvironment is too poorly understood. How about:
"Molecular biology is the art of repairing a rolls royce with a fork."
Well oops, now I said it. -- Picobyte

I heard that this technique was used by Japanese manufacturers after WWII to reverse engineer Swiss watches. If a Timex runs less well than a Rolex, it may be because parts inevitably get bent in the smashing--a point Szent-Gyorgi articulated well, and which I think we should not be so quick to dismiss.168... 00:17 5 Jun 2003 (UTC)

--- What is the difference between molecular biology and biochemistry? Gbleem 06:34 Jan 21, 2003 (UTC)

That's a good question, Gbleem, and one that this page unfotunately does not address. The definition of biochemistry as a study only concerned with "the molecules" in living systems is simply false. Both molecular biolgists and biochemists examine the intricacies of life processes, and both devote their efforts to the component molecules of these processes as well as the holistic big-picture in which they function. To say that biochemistry is somehow more focused on the small scale is a lie. Let's admit it, the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics all share a immense amount of overlap, and report on that fact here, as opposed to needlessly pigeon-holing biochemists.

The difference is that you have biochemists, which for historical reasons tend to origin from a more chemistry-related study and molecular biologist from a more biology/medicine related study. These studies grow toward the field of interest, which is life sciences at this moment.
Ouch. I did-not meet that debate for two decades :-) That reminds me long evening discussions at univ. So, after twenty years experience, much reading and teaching, and meeting nowadays exactly the same questions again with Systems Biology, here is what I concluded. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are not comparable. Biochemistry is an experimental domain, a set of techniques addressing a particular type of questions pertaining the chemistry of life. Biochemistry is akin to electrophysiology or structural biology. It is essentially descriptive (although quantitatively descriptive). Molecular Biology is a paradigm of life science. It replaced Physiology, and is now replaced by Systems Biology. Physiology born in the end of the XVIII century and flourishing between 1850s (Claude Bernard) 1970s, tried to understand a system by studying it in its entirety, as it was working. Molecular Biology is born out of Genetics meeting Biochemistry in mid-XX. It tries to disassemble biological systems to observe the components separately. While Molecular Biology was very successful in the 50s and 60s (Watson/Crick, Monod/Jacob), it really became a paradigm, in the Kuhnian sense, only at the end of the 70s, with the use of recombinant DNA. After 40 years of dissecting, observing and not always understanding, Molecular Biology is now replaced by another paradigm, Systems Biology, born after the second WW and kept dormant by the lack of quantitative data and computational power. Systems Biology build on Molecular Biology (dissect and measure), but reconstruct the systems before trying to understand how they work. Nicolas Le Novere (talk) 17:15, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

I dont understand why this link is included[edit]

Its not generally useful like the other link, seems more like advertising.

Rockefeller Institute[edit]

If Rockefeller Institute in the section History was wikilinked, this link would redirect to Rockefeller University. Is this what is referred to? In context, it seems more likely that it refers to another name for Rockefeller Foundation. / Habj 22:10, 6 December 2005 (UTC)


Does anyone happen to know any embryologists? I think Embryology really needs a lot of expert attention. would sympathtic editors consider a positive vote here? [1]Slrubenstein | Talk 19:07, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

protein purification removed[edit]

I just removed the section after western blotting that was dealing with affinity purification of proteins. Upon reflection, I really think it is more of a biochemistry technique than a molecular biology technique. If people think that protein purification is molecular biology, it certainly should be done in more detail than a single paragraph on affinity purification. Dr Aaron 11:58, 28 September 2006 (UTC)


A great resource for Molecular biology information Jojo556.

I removed link, seems like advertising spam to me. Qandnotq 23:18, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Central dogma of molecular biology[edit]

I feel that this page is lacking in having not stated explicitly the central dogma of molecular biology. It is simple, idealistic and open to interpretation, however it is a crucial cornerstone to all of molecular biology. I'll leave it to someone else to decide whether or not to include it, but i feel the page is incomplete without it. Wingsfan6047 03:35, 25 September 2007 (UTC)


there is no discussion on this board —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bwalker8 (talkcontribs) 04:46, 2 October 2007 (UTC)


"Introducing DNA into bacterial cells is a type of transformation called bactofection, and can be completed with several methods, including electroporation, microinjection, passive uptake and conjugation."
Bactofection = having a bacterium deliver the DNA microinjection of bacteria? Nanotechnology is not that advanced. (in addition, electroporator catridges are expensive and would be a waste to be used on bacteria). Very general articles are typically a collage of bits from various pages: were is the page this paragraph was copied from? as it will be wrong too. --Squidonius (talk) 23:34, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

External Link[edit]

The following link is to a site with interactive blogs on Harvard undergrad class lectures. This particular one is essentially the main intro class to science classes at Harvard, and covers topics ranging from chemistry to molecular and cellular biology. I found this page extremely helpful when I was taking the class and I think that the posted lecture notes are pretty interesting for anyone remotely interested in the topic.

Anyone can read and contribute to the commentary of the texts on the site. If you read through a lecture or two and agree, I'd encourage someone with more Wikipedia clout than myself to post on the actual chemistry and/or mcb pages. Let me know what you all think. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Bbrasky100 (talk) 17:38, 19 June 2008 (UTC)Bill

Hi there, all I can access is the blog posts about HIV. Is there a more general index page for the resources you refer to? Tim Vickers (talk) 17:47, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Removed section: Blotting jokes[edit]

I removed the following section, since it really has little to do with molecular biology, except that it happens to be a joke about a molecular biological subject. Maybe it can be moved to a page about science in-jokes?

The terms "western" and "northern" are molecular biology jokes that play on the term southern blot. The first blots were with DNA, and since they were done by Ed Southern, they came to be known as Southerns. Patricia Thomas, inventor of the RNA blot, which became known as a "northern", actually didn't use the term.

The information about the naming of blotting techniques has been put back in which I think is a neccesary clarification of why they are named for compass points but the information I think is wrong. It was James Alwine while at Stanford in 1977 who coined the original "joke" by naming his technique a Northern blot. (Southern was known to not appreciate the joke at the time.) Could someone check this? This was common knowledge in the early eighties.MBCF (talk) 15:15, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

[1]. To carry the joke further, one can find references in the literature to "southwesterns" (protein-DNA interactions), "northwesterns" (protein-RNA interactions) and "farwesterns" (protein-protein interactions).

ClockworkSoul 16:24, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

on section:history (of molecular biology)[edit]

"While molecular biology was established in the 1930s, the term candy first coined by Warren Weaver in 1938. Candy was the director of Natural Sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation at the time and she believed and thought that biology was about to undergo a period of huge changes given recent advances in fields such as X-ray crystallography. She therefore channeled significant amounts of money into studying santi and brasil."

I really have troubles understanding this. Does that make sense to anybody? What is santi and brasil? and why is there candy in the first sentence? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Multiple vandalisms by They have been reverted. --Squidonius (talk) 08:35, 3 July 2011 (UTC)