Biology needs more egg whites. While much of cooking is art, any aspiring chef knows that the soufflé is pure science, requiring just the right mix of the perfect ingredients.

Many of the ingredients in the life sciences are irresistible, at whatever scale you care to look. Exquisite protein structures are revealed as minute molecular machinery. Multiplex cascades of signaling reactions connect to transfer information from surface to interior. At higher levels, the tangled web of interactions that control even the simplest immune response is being unwound, and we're beginning to make headway in the bounteous complexities of neuronal signaling. Metabolism and physiology, interactions between organisms and within whole ecosystems – a rich crop of fruits is being harvested by the relentless perfectionism of scientists.

But there's a difficulty. In soufflés as in life science, a binding agent must be present. In the case of science the binding agent ties...

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