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Persia

Why Life Is Physics, Not Chemistry

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StarMountainKid

Thanks Persia, a thought provoking article. Biology is the result of evolution, which is a process determined by physics, not biology. It makes me wonder what other unknown results evolution thought of in this way has achieved. Phenomena emerging in exotic ways described by the evolutionary laws of physics, not biology. "Exploit this kind of evolution and there is little you can not achieve." Maybe the future advancements in technology will be created not from engineers but from the manipulations of the physical laws that govern this kind of thinking about evolution in this way.

Also, I've always thought life here on Earth was an evolutionary abyss.

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Answer42

Article states "That hints at the possibility that life as it has evolved on Earth is but a local minima in a vast landscape of evolutionary possibilities. If that's the case, biologists are studying a pitifully small fraction of something bigger. Much bigger."

Does this mean biologists are wrong by not studying all the extraterrestrial life out there and focusing on what we have here and furthermore only working with what can be seen, touched, directly measured, and for most be observed by someone on a daily basis instead of thinking of organisms and the environment in strictly mathematical terms. Mostly the article smacks of sour grapes...Biologists Rule and Chemists come in a close second. I will keep my physics limited to the instruments that go "ping", some kinda do.

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sepulchrave

Article states "That hints at the possibility that life as it has evolved on Earth is but a local minima in a vast landscape of evolutionary possibilities. If that's the case, biologists are studying a pitifully small fraction of something bigger. Much bigger."

Does this mean biologists are wrong by not studying all the extraterrestrial life out there and focusing on what we have here and furthermore only working with what can be seen, touched, directly measured, and for most be observed by someone on a daily basis instead of thinking of organisms and the environment in strictly mathematical terms. Mostly the article smacks of sour grapes...Biologists Rule and Chemists come in a close second. I will keep my physics limited to the instruments that go "ping", some kinda do.

I think they are suggesting that evolutionary biologists widen their gaze to more environmental systems that exchange information and energy in order to identify different systems that might obey similar principles of evolution - even if the might not qualify as ``life''. Of course people already study these things (see, for example the wiki page on evolvable hardware).

As to whether or not microbiologists should study these things is another matter...

While I am a physicist myself (and therefore think biologists are at the bottom of the heap and chemists are in the middle!) I am inclined to agree with your assessment of the article.

Before superconductivity was figured out (by this I assume the author means BCS superconductivity, since high Tc superconductivity or iron-pnictide superconductivity is far from solved) physicists had the many-body Dirac equation which (presumably) gave the complete picture of every system that was not strongly affected by gravity - the problem was (and still is!) that the many-body Dirac equation is hopelessly complex and impossible to solve. Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieber were clever enough to find an approximation of this equation that gave results similar to those experimentally detected in metallic superconductors.

If biologists had some governing equation for life and evolution... then maybe they should listen to these authors. Until then, keep doin' what works.

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