25. Self-Sustaining Chemical        Systems: Living Cells   Previous PageNext Page

So far we have been looking at the pieces of a living organism. Now it is time to put the pieces together and see where, and how, they fit. This approach often is neglected in chemistry. An electronics expert who analysed a transistor radio by pounding it to bits and then running an elemental analysis on the wreckage would not get high marks for insight; yet this is not too fanciful a parody of attitudes in what can be called the "Waring blender" school of biochemistry.
You can search carefully through one or two well-known


biochemistry textbooks and find hardly a hint of the structure of a living cell, or a clue as to where the various biochemical reactions of a cell take place. Yet one of the primary methods of control of reactions in a cell is physical separation. If the elaborate structure of a cell, shown above, is destroyed, then the intricate chemical edifice collapses, too. In many ways, a chemist who looks only at the reactions and not at the organization of cells is missing the point. As with transistor radio fragments, he will see the metal but he will never hear the music.

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