We all know—generally speaking—how a car works: The gas pedal makes it go, the break pedal makes it stop, and the steering wheel determines its course. But pop open the hood and you’ll find there’s a lot more nuance to those maneuvers.
With macroscopic machines, getting under the hood is a straightforward process, but when it comes to the molecular machines driving biological functions inside our cells, things get a lot more complicated, according to Paul Whitford, an assistant professor of physics.
That’s because the environment in which they operate has a much greater impact on the machines themselves. For example, water molecules are constantly bombarding them, and since the energy of a water molecule is very close to that of the molecular bonds in these microscopic machines, the impact is significant.