Protocol Online logo
Top : New Forum Archives (2009-): : General Biology Discussion

What did Linus Pauling say about enzyme catalysis? - Enzyme dynamics and catalysis (Apr/03/2011 )

Anyone have an opinion on what Linus Pauling said about enzyme catalysis and whether it was true or not?


I have a friend who has a little dog that likes to mark trees. It usually bypasses trees that have not been
already marked by other canines, but when it encounters a highly frequented tree, it does its best to impart
its own essence. In fact, the dog tries hard to mark higher up on the tree than have other dogs previously.
Since my friend’s dog is small, the effort to reach high often causes the animal to tumble, rather
comically, over on its back. Science is a bit like that. There is unmarked science and marked science.
Unmarked science has the advantage of having fewer competitors, and the possibilities of new insights
are favorable. Marked science receives more attention and funding, but there is always the risk of “tumbling”
in the presence of a “taller dog”. Enzyme catalysis, with its countless worldwide publications, is
definitely a marked science. Philosophically, we have favored unmarked science (having been heavily
engaged in colloidal organic chemistry, a comparatively lonely enterprise). But, from time to time, we
have visited enzymes <1–10>, and the ensuing paper describes the results. Readers can judge for themselves
how high up we have marked.

If you meant this... I guess his argument is more relevant as he has voiced an uncomfortable truth. I haven't read the whole paper, but even though biotechnology is still in relatively juvenile phase, people tend to 'pee' in mostly marked spots rather than unmarked spots, for greater assurance of some success, i guess?