What Is Life?

Erwin Schroedinger 1944 (PSU QH331.S3557)

In 1944, they knew genes were coded in molecular structures in paired chromosomes, one per parent - and Schroedinger likened them to "aperiodic crystals". He thought there were 24 pairs, not 23. He argued small size from X-ray damage, and energy density from thermal statistics. He worked from Delbruck's gene model and the Heitler-London forces governing chemical bonding. He argues that living animals are large enough so that the statistical law of large numbers allows predictability in the face of thermal motion and randomness.

Will the law of large numbers limit solid state electronocs?

It is important that researchers like Watson and Crick were inspired by Schrodinger's monograph to learn what is actually going on; Schroedinger was mistaken in some ways, but "correct" enough to lead others to better approximations of the truth.

What Is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology

Addy Pross Central 570.1 P9667w 2012

I hoped to learn something new about origins. Nope. The book is a long complaint that it doesn't make sense and we'll never really know. Bleah.

Practically speaking, knowing precisely what happened isn't important, knowing the ways it can happen is. If many routes to life can be simulated in glassware and software, we know something about the frequency of life in the universe and where to (eventually) look for it. If we find very few routes to life under any conditions we can imagine, that will pin down our beginnings and focus the search for life elsewhere. The real question is, "what can we make in the lab, starting with what?" That search is better described in other books.

Useful words: telenomic, pangeome, homochirality (antonym racemic)

What Is Life?

Investigating the nature of life in the age of synthetic biology

Ed Regis Central 570.1 R337W 2008

WhatIsLife (last edited 2017-12-14 23:47:35 by KeithLofstrom)