The Galilean imperative: A physicist's search for understanding 2 - Toward the physics of life itself
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Experiments have uncovered many of the mechanisms at work in the machinery of life, but there still is no theoretical framework that ties these discoveries together. A hint about how to construct such a theory comes from the fact that many biological systems operate very near the limits of what the laws of physics allow: from bacteria navigating toward a source of food to the optics of an insect’s eye, from decision-making by cells in a developing embryo to aspects of human perception, important aspects of life’s mechanisms are nearly as good they can be, in a sense that physics makes precise. This proximity to perfection provides us with the ingredients for a theoretical physics of life, and I will explore this idea, hopefully providing an appreciation for some of life’s most striking and surprising phenomena.
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