Mike Burr - log

[bio][comp][quoth] Distillation is a sorting problem

I said that recently and it still seems true. Now, if you think of that and you think of the fact that at least one way we distill things is to put them in a solvent, puree them and spin or heat or let them settle or... You've got a great big soup of bio-stuff. Every other molecule has got a gear hanging off from a spring or a broken strut or maybe is just ripped in half. Still. It's "bioactive" surely. You have a lot of great precursor there. Can you invent an enzyme that eases the process?

For example, say you've got a real heavy molecule that needs to get past some light molecules to be "in the right place".

But it's bio stuff. What if the light molecules are all "sticky" in a way you simply can't blend out. And you like it sticky. And you still want that layer, so you just have to be patient and spin longer so heavy gets beneath light and light doesn't loose its character. "pardon. Scuse me. Commin through."

If you had that scenario you could think of ways of packaging up the heavy molecules into bigger "clumps" so there's less "big molecule" <-> "small molecule" surface area. Just round them up! Maybe you find a solvent-phobic or solvent-philic chaining molecule. You can make bubbles! Maybe. You get the idea.

But I bet there's even more aggressive things you can do. "Sorting" is a simple problem so the sub-steps might be more manageable.

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