The Cell as a Machine: Randomness, self-assembly and molecular democracy

Keynote by Ljiljana Fruk, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Philippa Fawcett Drive, Cambridge, UK. email: Lf389@cam.ac.uk

Biological cells are small, efficient, self-replicating machines. Their codes are stored in central DNA memory, work done by numerous molecular machines that communicate using pathways so complex that they often seem very random, energy taken from different sources and successfully stored by mechanism that make battery storage the thing of the stone age.

They can adapt, make different copies of themselves that live in a perfect democracy but can rapidly switch to tyranny, which sometimes leads to a complete shut-down

What are these machines made of?  What kind of probes can we use to discover the faults and repair the cracks? Should we do that without really understanding how does the machine work?

And are we ever going to get the logic behind it, when the only thing capable of making sense of the machine is the machine itself?