Is science sometimes in danger of getting tunnel vision? Recently published ebook author, Ian Miller, looks at other possible theories arising from data that we think we understand. Can looking problems in a different light give scientists a different perspective?

Nobel Season, And Congratulations To Professors Karplus, Levitt And Warshel

The prize appears to have been given for work that leads to the modeling of how enzymes work. If I follow the information I have seen correctly, the modelling involves three different levels. The very inner site of reactivity involves a quantum mechanical evaluation of the reaction site and the reactivity. Outside this, where the protein strands fold and interact, the situation is simplified with simple (in comparison) classical physics, while outside this there is further simplification by which the situation is considered simply as a dielectric medium.
 
All of that seems eminently sensible, and there is little doubt that even with such simplifications there remains some serious work that has been done. However one thing concerns me: up until this award, I was totally unaware of it. Yes, this might indicate a lack of effort on my part, but in my defence, there is an enormous amount of information available, and for matters outside my immediate research interests, I have to simply rely on more general articles. Which gets me to the point: assuming this work has been successful, it is obviously important, but why has more not been made of it? Again, perhaps this illustrates a fault on my part, but again I feel there is more need to promote important work.
 
I guess the final point I would like to make is, could someone highlight the principles that this modeling work has uncovered? The general chemist has little interest in wading through computations of the various options open to such a complex molecule as an enzyme, but if some general principles are uncovered, could they not be better publicized? After all, they may have more general applicability.
Posted by Ian Miller on Oct 28, 2013 5:22 AM Europe/London

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