Drew Berry: Animations of unseeable biology

July 30, 2019 posted by

What I’m going to show you
are the astonishing molecular machines that create the living
fabric of your body. Now molecules are really, really tiny. And by tiny, I mean really. They’re smaller
than a wavelength of light, so we have no way
to directly observe them. But through science,
we do have a fairly good idea of what’s going on
down at the molecular scale. So what we can do is actually
tell you about the molecules, but we don’t really have a direct way
of showing you the molecules. One way around this is to draw pictures. And this idea is actually nothing new. Scientists have always created pictures as part of their thinking
and discovery process. They draw pictures
of what they’re observing with their eyes, through technology
like telescopes and microscopes, and also what they’re thinking
about in their minds. I picked two well-known examples, because they’re very well-known
for expressing science through art. And I start with Galileo,
who used the world’s first telescope to look at the Moon. And he transformed
our understanding of the Moon. The perception in the 17th century was the Moon was a perfect
heavenly sphere. But what Galileo saw
was a rocky, barren world, which he expressed
through his watercolor painting. Another scientist with very big ideas, the superstar of biology
is Charles Darwin. And with this famous entry
in his notebook, he begins in the top left-hand
corner with, “I think,” and then sketches out
the first tree of life, which is his perception
of how all the species, all living things on Earth are connected
through evolutionary history — the origin of species
through natural selection and divergence
from an ancestral population. Even as a scientist, I used to go to lectures
by molecular biologists and find them completely incomprehensible, with all the fancy technical
language and jargon that they would use
in describing their work, until I encountered
the artworks of David Goodsell, who is a molecular biologist
at the Scripps Institute. And his pictures — everything’s accurate
and it’s all to scale. And his work illuminated for me what the molecular world
inside us is like. So this is a transection through blood. In the top left-hand corner,
you’ve got this yellow-green area. The yellow-green area is the fluid
of blood, which is mostly water, but it’s also antibodies, sugars,
hormones, that kind of thing. And the red region is a slice
into a red blood cell. And those red molecules are hemoglobin. They are actually red;
that’s what gives blood its color. And hemoglobin acts as a molecular sponge to soak up the oxygen in your lungs and then carry it
to other parts of the body. I was very much inspired
by this image many years ago, and I wondered whether
we could use computer graphics to represent the molecular world. What would it look like? And that’s how I really began. So let’s begin. This is DNA in its classic
double helix form. And it’s from X-ray crystallography,
so it’s an accurate model of DNA. If we unwind the double helix
and unzip the two strands, you see these things that look like teeth. Those are the letters of genetic code, the 25,000 genes
you’ve got written in your DNA. This is what they typically talk about —
the genetic code — this is what they’re talking about. But I want to talk about
a different aspect of DNA science, and that is the physical nature of DNA. It’s these two strands
that run in opposite directions for reasons I can’t go into right now. But they physically run
in opposite directions, which creates a number of complications
for your living cells, as you’re about to see, most particularly
when DNA is being copied. And so what I’m about to show you is an accurate representation
of the actual DNA replication machine that’s occurring right now
inside your body, at least 2002 biology. So DNA’s entering the production line
from the left-hand side, and it hits this collection,
these miniature biochemical machines, that are pulling apart the DNA strand
and making an exact copy. So DNA comes in and hits this blue,
doughnut-shaped structure and it’s ripped apart
into its two strands. One strand can be copied directly, and you can see these things
spooling off to the bottom there. But things aren’t so simple
for the other strand because it must be copied backwards. So it’s thrown out
repeatedly in these loops and copied one section at a time,
creating two new DNA molecules. Now you have billions of this machine
right now working away inside you, copying your DNA with exquisite fidelity. It’s an accurate representation, and it’s pretty much at the correct speed
for what is occurring inside you. I’ve left out error correction
and a bunch of other things. (Laughter) This was work from a number of years ago– Thank you. (Applause) This is work from a number of years ago, but what I’ll show you next
is updated science, it’s updated technology. So again, we begin with DNA. And it’s jiggling and wiggling there because of the surrounding
soup of molecules, which I’ve stripped away
so you can see something. DNA is about two nanometers across,
which is really quite tiny. But in each one of your cells, each strand of DNA is about
30 to 40 million nanometers long. So to keep the DNA organized
and regulate access to the genetic code, it’s wrapped around these
purple proteins — or I’ve labeled them purple here. It’s packaged up and bundled up. All this field of view
is a single strand of DNA. This huge package of DNA
is called a chromosome. And we’ll come back
to chromosomes in a minute. We’re pulling out, we’re zooming out, out through a nuclear pore, which is the gateway to this compartment
that holds all the DNA, called the nucleus. All of this field of view
is about a semester’s worth of biology, and I’ve got seven minutes, So we’re not going to be
able to do that today? No, I’m being told, “No.” This is the way a living cell
looks down a light microscope. And it’s been filmed under time-lapse,
which is why you can see it moving. The nuclear envelope breaks down. These sausage-shaped things
are the chromosomes, and we’ll focus on them. They go through this very striking motion
that is focused on these little red spots. When the cell feels it’s ready to go,
it rips apart the chromosome. One set of DNA goes to one side, the other side gets
the other set of DNA — identical copies of DNA. And then the cell splits down the middle. And again, you have billions of cells
undergoing this process right now inside of you. Now we’re going to rewind
and just focus on the chromosomes, and look at its structure and describe it. So again, here we are
at that equator moment. The chromosomes line up. And if we isolate just one chromosome, we’re going to pull it out
and have a look at its structure. So this is one of the biggest
molecular structures that you have, at least as far as we’ve discovered
so far inside of us. So this is a single chromosome. And you have two strands of DNA
in each chromosome. One is bundled up into one sausage. The other strand is bundled up
into the other sausage. These things that look like whiskers
that are sticking out from either side are the dynamic scaffolding of the cell. They’re called microtubules,
that name’s not important. But we’re going to focus on
the region labeled red here — and it’s the interface between
the dynamic scaffolding and the chromosomes. It is obviously central
to the movement of the chromosomes. We have no idea, really,
as to how it’s achieving that movement. We’ve been studying this thing
they call the kinetochore for over a hundred years
with intense study, and we’re still just beginning
to discover what it’s about. It is made up of about
200 different types of proteins, thousands of proteins in total. It is a signal broadcasting system. It broadcasts through chemical signals, telling the rest of the cell
when it’s ready, when it feels that everything
is aligned and ready to go for the separation of the chromosomes. It is able to couple onto the growing
and shrinking microtubules. It’s involved with the growing
of the microtubules, and it’s able to transiently
couple onto them. It’s also an attention-sensing system. It’s able to feel when the cell is ready, when the chromosome
is correctly positioned. It’s turning green here because it feels
that everything is just right. And you’ll see,
there’s this one little last bit that’s still remaining red. And it’s walked away
down the microtubules. That is the signal broadcasting system
sending out the stop signal. And it’s walked away —
I mean, it’s that mechanical. It’s molecular clockwork. This is how you work
at the molecular scale. So with a little bit
of molecular eye candy, (Laughter) we’ve got kinesins, the orange ones. They’re little molecular courier
molecules walking one way. And here are the dynein,
they’re carrying that broadcasting system. And they’ve got their long legs so they can step around
obstacles and so on. So again, this is all derived
accurately from the science. The problem is we can’t show it
to you any other way. Exploring at the frontier of science,
at the frontier of human understanding, is mind-blowing. Discovering this stuff is certainly a pleasurable
incentive to work in science. But most medical researchers — discovering the stuff is simply steps
along the path to the big goals, which are to eradicate disease,
to eliminate the suffering and the misery that disease causes and to lift people out of poverty. Thank you. (Applause)


100 Replies to “Drew Berry: Animations of unseeable biology”

  1. Bildad1976 says:

    I know this sounds backward, but growing up as an atheist, I found the descriptions and explanations of what went on microscopically within a cell to be the mundane and tedious results of randomly and accidentally-formed components.
    Conversely, after getting out of the Navy and coming to faith in God, viewing the inner workings of a living cell as the work of an infinitely wise & creative Bio-engineer became an awe-inspiring fascination for me!

  2. KreVor says:

    So…we have to take atoms on faith because we can't see them? I've had people declare AT me that they don't believe in anything they don't see (usually referring to anything religious, lol)

  3. Manny ManishMan says:

    He needs to add more to his name and he would be Drew Berry More

  4. J Brady says:

    DEFINITELY not created by God… amirite? Science totally disproved God… This is so obviously random chance.

  5. Efemral says:

    Gosh I really would love to hear the long version and really get to hear what all those different parts were.

  6. Joe Gambo says:

    Thanks for the video. What an amazing creation we are.

  7. Micah Colister says:

    i feel really weird after watching that. like ive got billions of little walking creatures inside me

  8. Alejo Nahuel Nedela says:

    please share it the same video un HD !

  9. Dr. Wier says:

    Somewhat of topic: isn't DNA actually two molecules? And can we call it a dimere?

  10. Anti-theist says:

    How do they know what it looks like if they can't see it?

  11. Özkan Birah says:


  12. Max Kallio says:

    this is So amazing to understand How is Giant Machine working inside of us and we are not even aware of it!

  13. Mike Mason says:

    And so, we are to believe that all of this "evolved" from Amino acids and proteins that just happened to be mixed in with pond scum or "primordial ooze" and it went into animation all by itself? Designed itself with this mind blowing process.. And DNA, the most complex leanguage in the universe as far as we know, wrote itself?
    A language that wrote itself..Fantastic. And we believe this? No designer? No architect? No biologist? No chemist?
    All just happened all by itself using material which also just popped into existance as well? The "building blocks if life" also came litterally out of nowhere? Really?

  14. manualLaborer says:

    Finally! someone who is not talking wayyy too slow and putting me to sleep.

  15. John Andrew Cameron says:

    Fucking incredible

  16. Francois Theron says:

    Proudly brought to you by psilocybin. 🤣

  17. วีรยุทธ แซ่ฉิ้น says:

    Thank you for knowledge.

  18. Gopesh Rawat says:

    Great work sir

  19. Pussy Windmill says:

    it really looks like bjork visuals

  20. General purpose says:

    I TOLD YOU. We are created by an intelligent species!

  21. Michael Elbert says:

    Let me guess they run in different directions so below machines know which side their on.

  22. Marc Letourneau says:

    Fermi was so right: the earth was seeded by ETs (looking like us) because this is engineering, period!

  23. CJ Hacker says:

    480p is inadequate for the animations

  24. Jayaraman J says:

    Superb imaging by human mind of its involvement with the persistance of its duality-mode!
    The dual strands of dna (each strand a rough equivalent of the pair of its source parents) are zipped in reversed order !
    The re-assembling of this shown at the start of this video needs to be watched at 0.25 speed to grasp the orchestration!
    The telescopic production of the Babel towers of micro-tubules is mind-bogg Ling Manifestation !
    The concluding remarks could have been, " all this endeavour is, is to be humbled by the apperception of the light of knowing in which this experience is known."

  25. Curious Carpenter says:

    All life is Fractal in nature.

  26. Someone says:

    And all of these tiny things come together to form a single functioning human being capable of the most miraculous things. Very fascinating.

  27. nicotopcat says:

    A biological wonder. Our freedom is to be alive, and in control of our physical bodies is the end result in such a fantastic state, culminating in actual consciousness. Pardon me, it defies explanation on any figurative level…

  28. Gustavo Martinez says:

    A lot of proteins with a lot of functions determined by signals and spacial geometry that gives them a lot of fascinating functions

  29. tony p says:

    Vid was 4 years ago. Would love to see an updated version.

  30. Joseph van Wyk says:

    All I see is a Mechanical Engineer behind us all. Our entire body is literally a working component machine. And people think there is no God. I mean really. His creation shows His level of intelligence, there's no magic fairy dust.

  31. CORWIN COLE says:

    Intellectually honest?

    The fine tuned mechanical system of organic creatures HAS to be the work of a brilliant mind, not blind chance. Impossible. Impossible. I dare say, IMPOSSIBLE!

  32. KrisRaps says:

    And Knowing All This That These Things Existk, How Can Anyone Think That It May Be Created Byiutself, its just stupid beyoned my belief.
    Its God And Nothing Else. Someone created this. Im 100% Sure of it

  33. TigraPolosatiy says:

    Почему я получаю это в рекомендациях, в 2019 году?))))

  34. Tim Lazenby says:

    The visualisation reminded me of a DMT trip I had many years ago. I felt like I was looking right inside my DNA

  35. James Wood says:

    Did Darwin know this?

  36. love is free to be liked is earned says:

    Dude you have no right to use drew Barry moore name to allure me to watch "boring bald drew… waaaaaaaaaaaa :/
    I want drew Barry Moore to do this lecture and become a scientist now!

  37. David Kaufmann says:

    One day I dream man kind will be able to live as harmoniously as our cells.

  38. FestiveParrot says:

    why say 30-40 million nanometers and not just 4cm???? trying to make us feel dumb huh?

  39. Cheburushka says:

    This is a billion times more complicated than any machine we have built and ppl think its not intelligent design xD.

  40. Ploppy Ploppy says:

    10 minutes doesn't do this guy justice. So interesting – so short.

  41. Daniel Rodriguez says:

    It is so alien.

  42. boog_masskwé says:

    Insert Bryce Vine joke

  43. Katie Kat says:

    Amazing the talent people have. I wish I had an outstanding talent. I don’t though.

  44. liana tobias says:


  45. Lucio Paoletti says:

    The biological life is the opposite force of entropia, organization of matter instead caos

  46. MaxUgly says:

    Drew Berry? More!

  47. Hogweed Blitz says:

    DNA does not cause misery, suffering and poverty. Money and greed does.

  48. Michał Urbaniak says:

    this is ok to drink ?

  49. John Carboni says:

    Supernatural Intelligent Design, no doubt.

  50. Da Vid says:

    Everything is working and nobody is asking Jesus for forgiveness… so sad how much you people hate God

  51. FallenAngel says:

    480p srsly?

  52. Stuart Hollingsead says:

    It is amazing that this was known in 2012 and people still believe in evolution…
    There is not enough time in the universe for machines such as these to evolve.
    Wake up people! God is real, and he is coming back soon!
    Worship the creator of heaven and earth. Honor him by not working on his day of rest; the Sabbath. It couldn't be easier, just cease your work for one day a week. He will know who is his by this day of rest.

  53. zissler says:

    3:47 I saw the hand of God in this. No way DNA replication was setup by accident, it’d be like a factory line of machinery built by nothing.

  54. SolaraProject says:

    A code of 1's and 0's. We are all a program.

  55. sleepingcity85 says:

    I want More, Drew Berry!

  56. etiquettefiend says:

    Dude was like – I'm out!

  57. Mark says:

    cue sodium benzoate

  58. ninuxy says:

    Mindddddddddddddd fucking blown. So beautiful.

  59. Sergey Familiy says:

    Do not grab people by inflation – then there will be no poverty.

  60. Cory Lynn says:

    DNA is the language of God himself. Whether you're religious or not, it's shocking how this has all come together uniformly to create you and I.

  61. MovieGuy says:

    and this is supposed to be the product of accidental random cosmic collisions. yeah right

  62. Ideas are Powerful - Mick Demi says:


  63. gregg brady says:

    its the proteins. now im more thankful than ever animals small and large turn vegetation into something fit to eat and make me healthy and strong

  64. jon williams says:

    And abortion is still a thing.

  65. ShadowZZZ says:

    Thats nature, not god.

  66. Buff The Nazi Slayer says:

    Christians who find Darwinism disgusting forget that the founders of Christianity were some incest addicted bastards.

  67. Gunnar Marr says:

    Darwin is wrong

  68. RemarkableTubes says:

    so we all have the same design, this is wonderful, the more intellegent we get the more we realise that we are the same
    there is #no_need_for_racism
    because we look stupid

  69. punkalert1 says:

    Nanomachines son

  70. Andreseme23 says:

    Guy: spend most likely some years creating an accurate 3D representation of the body function at a molecular level

    Public: …

    Guy: says something

    Public (misunderstanding said stuff as a joke): ENERGETIC CLAPPING

  71. uros ivanovic says:

    His glasses are nearly invisible

  72. Cory Samoila says:



  73. Sam Sung says:


  74. f20 says:

    you cant see yet you 'know'. great imagination, thanks for nothing…

  75. John Smith says:

    Yo those little bug like things that is mental I’m sorry they’re moving by chemically bonding to molecules so they can walk that is amazing

  76. vozza14 says:

    Amazing. we need many more of these mechanical, to-scale animations of what life is made out of

  77. Michal Andrzejczak says:

    I know how this works. It is really easy.

  78. Abhishek Pariyar says:


  79. mr snoop says:

    he had to add "lift people out of poverty"

  80. 1FatHappyBirthday says:

    Well that was quite a jump there at the end.

  81. Mike Studmuffin says:

    I'm missing a few chromosomes. I'd like to get them back.

  82. weilongrey says:

    Check out bjorks video hollow

  83. Слава Загоровский says:

    Я уже много лет говорю что жизнь это техналогия – тупая механика – робототехника …
    Поражают сознание тупостью те кто говорит что оно само – реально инженерия продуманая и видно что есть Кто это все спроэктирывал …

  84. Daniel Buse says:

    Ahhh…i remember the GTX9800

  85. Jeremiah Turner says:


  86. Daisy Chain says:

    Galileo did not use the world’s first telescope. Not even close.

  87. Jonathan Cunha says:

    Deus é grande.

  88. Arron W says:

    DNA is DAN . ADAN. aka ADAM. DNA mimics the journey of the sun. the ecliptic. religions figured this out without technology thousands of years ago. As above, so below. everyting is a microcosm of a macrocosm.

  89. Arcane iconoclast says:

    Just like space the quantum universe does not exist … It's all cgi

  90. Vincent Porquet says:

    And this has evolved by random!!! Good luck…

    Please, please a beg you, try to replicate that in a lab with 1000s and millions of researchers and you will conclude it's nothing to do with random. This is very advance technology humans are no way near understanding… Adaptation (not evolution) can be uncoded easily is such complex technology.

    Humans are so arrogant…

  91. STEPHEN SAM says:


  92. Baby Whale Crypto says:

    @8:10 Reminds me of a stable 3D version of Conway's Game of Life.

  93. Daimo says:

    When TED was still amazing

  94. Potent Potables says:

    It’s the next Drew Berry. And I want more

  95. sobreaver says:

    You are doing amazing stuff inside yourself and you have no clue about it all the meanwhile, other terrible stuff happens with bacteria and viruses :! What a life !

  96. Aaron Lecciones says:


  97. hwd71 says:

    Ps 139:13-16.

    For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

    I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

    My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

    Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

    All praise to our Master Programmer the Logos made flesh,
    The Lord Jesus Christ.

  98. hwd71 says:

    All praise blessing honour glory and power be unto the Logos made flesh,
    Our Master Creator, Programmer.

    The Lord Jesus Christ.

  99. Eran Mazor says:

    every creation is a miracle

  100. Guilherme Israel says:

    imagine if someone could create molecules like mechanisms on minecraft

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