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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 16 November 2007 Referencing Hub media

Nobel Prize winner, Sir Paul Nurse, explains why our human minds limit our understanding of what goes on in cells. If our human minds think in linear sequences, and biological organisation is more complicated, what does this mean for science research in the future?

Sir Paul Nurse: I’m going to talk about regulatory networks. I’m going to start with this simple series of arrows, here. The point about this sequence of events is this is actually how the human mind is most comfortable in thinking about a linear order of events, where something happens here, and that triggers off a number of events, and you get a consequence here. It’s a simple pathway. And that's how we spend all out time in biology, trying to explain phenomena, for example, signalling phenomena in cells.

Something that is much more complicated, something where you get redundancy, you get more than one way to get to the final product., ou get cross talk, you get all sorts of feedback signalling - this is much more complicated to understand. And we have to describe how the networks work, and we have to recognise that this behaviour will not be easy to analyse.