posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 12:41 PM
Behold an intriguing discovery
Structures consisting of stacked sheets connected by helical
ramps — ("parking garage") — have been found in cell cytoplasm (left) and neutron stars (right). Credit: University of California - Santa
Astrophysicists can only indirectly infer based on modelling and computer simulations what’s inside of a collapsed supernova, or neutron star. One
such discovery of a structure believed to exist inside a neutron star could perhaps have an analog system just a microscopic study away. Theorists
simulating the structure of a neutron star’s crust have identified features similar to those observed inside cellular membranes. The finding
suggests that although neutron stars and cell membranes differ by 14 orders of magnitude in their density, their similar structures may be determined
by the same geometric constraints.
Neutron stars contain some of the densest matter in the universe, second only to black holes. Astrophysicists say that these compact, Manhattan-sized
remnants of stars have a thin, 100-meter crust whose structure resembles different kinds of noodles: strings of protons and neutrons, smashed together
like flour and eggs in a pasta press. They've appropriately called it - nuclear pasta. (mmmm, nuclear pasta...)
Naturally my next question is what would a nuclear meatball look like.
By chance, Greg Huber, a biophysicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, came across an article about the structures and recognized that
one of them had a striking resemblance to the membrane folds in endoplasmic reticulum, a part of the cell involved in protein folding and transport.
The researchers have now teamed up to study how this phase self-assembles out of uniformly distributed protons, neutrons, and electrons. Their
simulations show that the particles organize into high-density filaments and then expand into layers connected by pairs of ramp-like
junctions—similar to the floors of a parking garage. Having seen the same shapes in dense nuclear matter and biological membranes, the researchers
speculate that the energies of both systems depend on their geometry in a simple, universal way.
A 3D-printed model using data from actual endoplasmic reticulum sheets
Universal geometry at it's best....
Reminds me of this Double Helix Nebula: