During Autumn Quarter, 1996, at the University of Chicago, I was sitting in my Biology Common Core class, listening to a lecture about cells. The professor introduced the concept of the cell wall, a water-impermeable layer surrounding a cell. The phospholipid bilayer can only be penetrated by way of proteins that are embedded in this layer. These proteins facilitate the transport of certain substances by way of one of three mechanisms: uniport, antiport, or symport. I thought that these three "rules" of the cell wall transport system could be the basis of a group of excellent puzzles. The first volley of these puzzles (which actually doesn’t include this one - more about that in a bit) were drawn over Christmas vacation, 1996.

The look of these puzzles was intended to mimic the proteins buried in the cell layer, while giving the puzzle a rigid, structured appearance, unlike the seemly random structure of cells. The semi-ovals that connect the compartments were originally hand drawn that way, but in an early attempt at computer illustration, I had to use whole ovals placed over the rectangular compartments. With more experience, I changed them back in order to faithfully represent my original vision of the look of the puzzle.

This puzzle (originally numbered fifth) was not one of the ones I made with the first bunch of puzzles back in ’96. However, the largest of those early puzzles wasn’t very good. It had a lot of parts that were stuck together, and was very easy for being so large (mostly because it was obvious as to what order the objects needed to be put into the receptors). But there were some good ideas in that big puzzle, and one of those was used here. Cell E (and the associated symports and antiports) was copied directly from that puzzle. The rest of the puzzle was built around that cell. While compact in nature, it is not entirely obvious what needs to be done and in what order, making this a somewhat challenging puzzle.

 

 

Last updated: August 23, 2004
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