Pollack Laboratory

Uncovering nature's deeply held secrets

Biological Motion

Up to recently, biological motion had been the mainstay of this laboratory, the focus having been mainly on muscle contraction. The laboratory is known for building front-line instrumentation such as precision optical detectors and nanolevers for sub-nanometer length measurements, and for its penetrating tests of prevailing molecular theories. The award-winning 1990 book, Muscles and Molecules: Uncovering the Principles of Biological Motion (www.ebnerandsons.com) outlines reasons why the prevailing lever-arm hypothesis is fundamentally inconsistent with available evidence, and goes on to suggest an alternative.


Although muscle contraction per se is no longer the main emphasis of this laboratory, still, the considerations brought forth in that book and elaborated in the newer book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life, remain relevant. They suggest that the hypothesis of the lever-arm-based mechanical “motor” is fundamentally inadequate and that mechanisms based on protein-water phase transitions are both simpler and at least as consistent with available evidence.

Studies of biological motion have more recently focused on water-based mechanisms. We have observed molecular and particle motions driven by charge-driven water flows. These flows appear to be driven by the surface-ordering phenomena described above, and seem likely to be centrally involved in biological motions. We are pursuing them actively.