Monday, July 27, 2009

"Biology Is Just a Dance" by Brian Goodwin

Here are some interesting extracts from an on-line article by Brian Goodwin published in Edge who past away recently:

"Will biology join up with physics, take on its flavor, have this notion of rules, organization, regularity, order? The new movement is transforming biology from a historical science, which is what it is at the moment, the objective of Darwinism being to reconstruct the history of life on Earth. Well, that's not the style of physics. Physics is about laws, the principles of organization of matter. We're doing the same thing in biology; we're looking for the principles of organization, the dynamics of the living process. Once that's understood, you're in a position to say, "Ah! History followed such and such a course in expressing and revealing the subtle order in this particular type of organization of matter we call the living state." Thus, the first thing is to understand the living state."

"The small-scale variation and the detailed adaptation of organisms to their habitats are very well explained by neo- Darwinism, but the global problem, the large-scale evolutionary problem, is unsolved. How do you get evolutionary novelty? Emergent order? The difference between squids and fishes and penguins. That's what the science of complexity is beginning to address — to demonstrate how emergent qualities can develop out of complexity, so that you get the emergence of order. The difficulty is making the theoretical work connect with the biological evidence. Most of the modeling currently done on computers is still very abstract, and there's not a lot of detailed evidence as to how that translates into what actually goes on in organisms."

So, what are the main tangible results so far?

You can read the entire article on the Edge website.

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