Information of the chassis and information of the program in synthetic cells

Systems and Synthetic Biology 3:125-134 (2009)
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Synthetic biology aims at reconstructing life to put to the test the limits of our understanding. It is based on premises similar to those which permitted invention of computers, where a machine, which reproduces over time, runs a program, which replicates. The underlying heuristics explored here is that an authentic category of reality, information, must be coupled with the standard categories, matter, energy, space and time to account for what life is. The use of this still elusive category permits us to interact with reality via construction of self-consistent models producing predictions which can be instantiated into experiments. While the present theory of information has much to say about the program, with the creative properties of recursivity at its heart, we almost entirely lack a theory of the information supporting the machine. We suggest that the program of life codes for processes meant to trap information which comes from the context provided by the environment of the machine.

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Antoine Danchin
University of Hong Kong


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