For cellphone whisperers, families that live near highways, airports or trains, music-loving commuters, and even individual cells, noise is an inescapable fact of life. In everyday human experience, the nuisance is often manageable. Soundproof barriers and noise-canceling headphones help scrub the cacophony from the sweet sounds of music or silence. But for the cells that make up all living things, noise — meaning random variability in the outside environment, including fluctuating food sources, pathogens and deadly toxins, or random processes within the cells themselves — can be a matter of life and death.
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