Life’s demons: information and order in biology

EMBO Reports 12 (6):495-499 (2011)
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Two decades ago, Rolf Landauer (1991) argued that “information is physical” and ought to have a role in the scientific analysis of reality comparable to that of matter, energy, space and time. This would also help to bridge the gap between biology and mathematics and physics. Although it can be argued that we are living in the ‘golden age’ of biology, both because of the great challenges posed by medicine and the environment and the significant advances that have been made—especially in genetics and molecular and cell biology—we feel that information as an essential aspect of life has been neglected, or at least misunderstood. We therefore summon Maxwell’s Demon and its distant relative the ratchet, and apply these to biology.

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Antoine Danchin
University of Hong Kong


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