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What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell is a science book written for the lay reader by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The book was based on a. Book Description. Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. The philosopher Karl Popper. less than death; his wisdom is, to meditate not on death but on life.) CHAPTER 1. The Classical Physicist's Approach to the Subject. This little book arose from a.

What Is Life Book

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What Is Life? is a non-fiction science book written for the lay reader by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The book was based on a course of public lectures . Nobel laureate Erwin Schroedinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. It was written for the layman, but proved to be one. When I was a young mathematics student in the early S I did not read a great deal, but what I did read - at least if I completed the book - was usually by.

Well, what do you want to know? What's an organism? An organism is a 4D pattern that consumes negative entropy to maintain order. It's something that's alive. Why are organisms so much bigger than atoms? Ho, ho, ho! If organisms were close to the size of atoms, life would be intolerable! We'd all be buffeted about by the quantum chaos and never have a chance at predicting our environment. Think about it: That's one hell of a signal-to-noise problem!

We have to be big so that life is more predictable. How come we don't know how life works? If physicists are so smart, why haven't they figured out the genetic code yet? GS grave face: You should learn not to run your mouth. But if you must ask, it's because physicists like things that are easy to study, such as the relatively simple and elegant structures produced by statistical mechanics. But statistical mechanics produces statistical structures - periodic crystals and such.

Organic molecules are aperiodic and quite foreign to physicists. We shouldn't expect that our physical models will carry over so easily; in fact, 'it is well-nigh unthinkable that the laws and regularities thus discovered should happen to apply immediately to the behaviour of systems which do not exhibit the structure on which those laws and regularities were based.

There are many steps on the ladder between physics and phenomena, each one possibly best describable in a completely different language. I heard the biologists are going to discover DNA in 7 years, but I want to know now! How does it work?! Well fortunately I'm a flippin' genius and probably one of the smartest grandpas in the world so I can tell you how this DNA stuff works seven years before anyone else will know.

Here's the trick: But if it's so tiny, how do we fit the recipe for a whole human being in there? GS pats child on head: Combinatorics, my boy! If you have 25 letters and want to make a letter word using just 5 different letters, you know how many words you can make? More than 62 trillion! You told us that tiny things get buffeted about in the quantum storm! Silly child! Quantum theory can save the day again! Since molecules are only stable in discrete quantum states, these aperiodic crystals will only be stable in certain patterns.

They'll need a minimum amount of energy to pop out of place, kind of like a marble stuck in a thimble. You can poke it and flick it without knocking the marble out but if you smack it too hard, kapoot!

That's why high temperatures and x-ray radiation are not particularly conducive to your health. They sometimes provide enough energy so that, kapoot! I look nothing like my mom and dad. How can I be just a copy of them? Well, it turns out your DNA isn't perfectly stable. It's just instable enough that mutations can occur here and there.

Think of it like an optimization problem: With too many changes at once, it's impossible to judge which were 'good' and which were 'bad', but with no changes at all, the whole world would be like one big personality-less fraternity. Either that or your parents adopted you.

How does every cell know how to follow the recipe? Is there a DNA dictator who tells everyone what to do? Organisms are more democratic than that. Every cell gets a cloned copy of the recipe. It's a bit like a collection of local governments all based on the same constitution but that each make decisions based on local conditions.

Now, here; take this bratwurst and run along! View all 5 comments. There was no great divide between the living and non-living; they all obey the same laws of physics and chemistry. Why are they instead passed intact from generation to generation? He gave his own answer. Genes, he said, preserve their structure because the chromosome that carries them is an 'irregular crystal'. The arrangement of units within the crystal constitutes the hereditary code.

The lectures were published as a book the following year, ready for physicists to read just as the war ended and they looked for new frontiers to explore. The first half of the Twentieth-century science belonged to physics, with the general theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and nuclear fission.

The second half would belong to biology. View all 6 comments. Oct 24, Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it Shelves: Can Physics account fully for the mysteries of Biology? He ends up writing something half-mystical, half-radical and fully-confusing, as Manny says in another review to this book. These lectures which are mostly musings on a nascent new branch of science genetics in the light of another nascent new branch of science Can Physics account fully for the mysteries of Biology?

These lectures which are mostly musings on a nascent new branch of science genetics in the light of another nascent new branch of science quantum physics inspired Haldane, Watson, Crick, Wilkins, etc.

We shouldn't bet against it inspiring more even today - perhaps the next round of disciples will come from among the ones who pursue AI today? Just a hunch. View 2 comments. Jun 19, Khashayar Mohammadi rated it really liked it Shelves: A magnificent book that approaches philosophy with strong scientific knowledge. In today's world where Rockstar scientists not only shamelessly disregard philosophy, but speak of its irrelevance, this book plays an important role fusing together Science and philosophy.

If you're a layman like me, do not worry since the book has been written to be understood by those with minimal scientific knowledge. Its a book meant to challenge your mind metaphysically and not arithmetically. I recommend this to every lover of philosophy.

View 1 comment. It's incredible how ignorant we still are of our beings. Scientists like to pretend that they have figured out how we function, how we perceive the world the way we do. But the reality is that we still have no clue how our most essential qualities work: How do our minds convert physical properties photons, sound waves, substances, etc. Where do our emotions and desires come from?

How can basic nerve cells bring about consciousness? How can a more or less deterministic system t It's incredible how ignorant we still are of our beings. How can a more or less deterministic system that follows a genetic code have a free-will or does it?

Can all of these things really be accounted for by physical contraptions, or do we need to involve another dimension? A spiritual dimension, perhaps? What of our world? Is it merely the construct of our minds? A picture painted by our senses? If so, how far can we trust that picture? Will we ever be able to poke through it and reach the 'world-in-itself'?

These are all open questions that science has failed to provide sufficient answers for, and perhaps never will. Science is certainly the best tool at our disposal to discover the world and expand our knowledge, and it has brought us a long way from our modest beginnings: And it will take us to higher unimaginable heights and maybe even enable us to master our endless universe.

But to pretend that it's a perfect tool that gives us indisputable facts and absolute knowledge is foolish and naive.

View all 4 comments. Mar 21, Rajat Ubhaykar rated it really liked it. A naive physicist honestly ponders upon the mysteries of life, he just happens to be Erwin Schrodinger.

However a word of warning, this book may be disconcerting to the truly naive physicist. Schrodinger admits the inability of physics to comprehend the living organism, the need for extra-physical laws to explain life as it is. However, he lays a groundwork based on existing physical laws to come to terms with life and going along his train of thought also happens to predict the existence of DNA A naive physicist honestly ponders upon the mysteries of life, he just happens to be Erwin Schrodinger.

However, he lays a groundwork based on existing physical laws to come to terms with life and going along his train of thought also happens to predict the existence of DNA years before its discovery. A scientific man's interpretations of the philosophical questions raised by the title was particularly interesting and insightful.

His eventual turn to Indian philosophy for lucidity was effortless and apparently essential. However, what is particularly interesting is how his final question is not 'What is Life?

Jul 28, Chris Feldman rated it it was amazing. This along with Heisenberg's "Physics and Philosophy: Moving through evolutionary time as whole units leads, he believes, to life's stability in the face of ever-present forces of entropy. At its core, because of this stability, life is an effective counter-force to the entropic pressures toward heat dissipation and disorder.

Life, through its seeking and defending behavior, is able to stay alive, for awhile. Schrodinger is clear, however, that the laws of physics remain in place.

Life is able to maintain order for a time, but in death, life rejoins non-life's march to thermal equilibrium. In Mind and Matter, a series of lectures he gave in , Schrodinger makes several hard to follow arguments that appear to blend physics, evolutionary theory and philosophy.

Schrodinger also gives a nod to the Upanishads that behind all diversity lies oneness. It's not clear why Schrodinger moves in this direction. It could be that he sees mind as spirit or god, and not of space and time. While mind might see some underlying oneness, in real time, as live matter and energy, we compete and kill as well as love and cooperate. Apr 05, Gendou rated it really liked it Shelves: A well thought out paper by a brilliant physicist.

Would have given it five stars, but it happened to be remedial for me, but it may be more informative to you, so check it out! It's sort of eerie to hear Schrodinger contemplate with fascination and wonder something so obvious today as the nature of the DNA molecule.

What Is Life?

He gets a lot of stuff right, considering he's going on very limited evidence. Sometimes he plays devil's advocate in too convincing a way, a befuddling habit.

His conclusion, mainly reg A well thought out paper by a brilliant physicist. His conclusion, mainly regarding life as a processor of "free energy" or "negative entropy" is, along with being right on the money, respectably insightful for his time. Death on Earth by Jules Howard. To find. Mar 23, Nick Black rated it it was amazing.

Every home should have a copy. Jul 25, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell.

What Lifebook Students Say

Erwin Schroedinger. Schroedinger was a Viennese physicist and mathematician who was an early pioneer in the development of quantum mechanics. I remember my graduate course in Quantum Mechanics in , and still shiver when I think of the Schroedinger Equation and all of the hand calculations involved in its use.

In any event, this small book was based on a series of lectures he gave at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College in He takes a statistical mechanical approach to the processes of life and the molecules involved in its various transformations. I find that this is not a book that I can review in the usual sense, since much of it was theoretical at the time.

It is enough to say that it had a profound effect on the student audience and on scientists who worked subsequently, including both Watson and Crick. This is not an easy book. The concepts are difficult, even though he tries to take us along using baby steps. In spite of this, it is well worth reading if only for its effect on subsequent research and its explanation of his science specialty.

Scientifically very out of date, often unclear and self-condradictory. Frequently descends into religio-metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

What Is Life?

The autobiographical part completely superficial. Jan 21, Krish Sanghvi rated it it was amazing. This is one of those books which can give new ideas to anyone. No wonder Watson and crick discovered [plagiarised] the structure of DNA shortly after reading this book causality?

A physicist explaining biology is what this book is about. The central premise of this book is the question "can physics and chemistry account for all that happens in biology". At first sight, one may say yes, because well, it has to! But then schrodinger come in and tells us how our answer is flawed and points This is one of those books which can give new ideas to anyone.

But then schrodinger come in and tells us how our answer is flawed and points out some really fundamental problems. One being size. Quantum mechanics is probabilistic, and atoms follow sheer statistics, and because our bodies are fundamentally atoms, this brings the dilemma of how building blocks that are purely statistical, can crate something so definitive, like life.

His solution to this was life only being able to exist at sizes large enough, to turn statistics into more definitive and directional means, with a sample size of atoms large enough, to counter any quantum effects.

This to me was a pretty profound idea, which pointed towards a fundamental hypothesis: And hence, can the universe to only exist at a size which is at a specific ratio to its quantum building blocks? Some other, epiphanies [maybe] crossed my mind while reading this book and I shall state them below. Many of them seem like untestable hypotheses, superfluous, or even unorthodox, and may even be inaccurate but I'm not a biochemist or cosmologist, just a humble ecologist.

I have a habit of underlining and writing in my books, but this book had a significantly higher number of markings. So here it goes: Schrodinger speaks about how molecules diffuse from an area of higher to lower concentration because of sheer statistical probability and this makes us feel as if molecules are diffusing in a directional way, because molecules in the higher concentration part have a greater probability of diffusing to the lower concentration.

This made me think whether the universe itself could be this way. That we think the universe is accelerating and expanding in all directions because it was concentrated at the beginning of time at the singularity, while other parts of the universe were deficient In the contents particles, stars, everything that isn't vacuum of the universe hence causing these contents to diffuse across and accelerate to those parts of the universe This made me further wonder if the same thing could happen temporally.

Because time is in itself a dimension, and the early universe was concentrated in one part of time which we call the past, maybe the universe is diffusing through time, into the future, where the universe is present in a lower concentration.

So time exists in the universe completely as a dimension with the past and future both existing simultaneously but the future not having any contents because contents of the past universe haven't diffused till there.

Also, because different parts of the universe would diffuse through time at different speeds, this hypothesis hence would also be able to incorporate special relativity and maybe general into it. Can a mechanism exist, in which chiasma formation exists in mitosis?

This would allow asexual reproduction to produce more genetic variation than usual. Are there any genes that regulate chiasma formation? Do chromosomes have a preference or bias while chiasma formations? Are there genes for positive mutability? It has been often hypothesised that more good mutations happen that bad mutations, although the likelihood of a mutation being good is very less.

There is good or bad, fitter or more adaptable in evolution. All of this is relative to the type of selection pressure.

Some organisms are more mutable than others, same goes for genes. Are there any parts of a gene which control the rate at which it mutates? To add to this, I feel that 'selfishness' in a gene can be measured by measuring its mutability.

The more selfish a gene is, the less mutable it would be, because mutating would make it lose its selfishness, which it has already evolved to have.

The less a gene mutates, the more it would be able to replicate as itself, hence having a greater fitness than other genes, which mutate really rapidly.

Are all parts of a gene independent from each other? Do mutations in one part of a gene make the other part more or less mutable? Can quantum jumps be either because of quanta using some sort of wormholes through higher spatial dimensions? Just like molecules require a catalyst enzyme to help it cross transition states by reducing the activation energy, can some sort of particle let's call it enzymeon exist, which helps quanta of energy to jump quantum leap from one energy state to another?

Why do mutations in a gene create an allele of that gene instead of another gene altogether? Can sympatric speciation occur, when mutations in a gene causes a new gene, instead of an allele, to occur at that locus, hence making the genome of the two incompatible and leading to speciation? He states that mutations are similar to changes in energy states. This would require a release or input of energy to cause a mutation. Is there any specific amount of energy quanta required for a mutation to occur?

This would allow us to predict when and where one would occur. Can atoms not form anything else, other than molecules?

Can the constants and laws of the universe not form anything else, other than the universe? Can sub atomic particles not form anything else except atoms? And so on. Can silica act as an organic molecule in the earth's mantle?

Is this why organisms die? Because of a quantum tendency of things to reach equilibrium? Everything that an organism does increases the entropy within it, until it reaches a state of maximum entropy, which translates as death.

I just don't understand the biochemical mechanism that would entail so. Organisms catabolise energy from the external environment, hence increasing the entropy outside, and anabolise themselves, to reduce entropy and prevent death. Use energy to maintain a low entropy state within. Have a code script which can replicate as well as associate with and organise metabolising phenotypes.

Low entropy. Only then will it be subject to natural selection. And competition for more efficient use of energy. Week 4 Your Parenting A profound exploration for parents and non-parents alike, this category is as important as it gets, because the future of the whole human race depends on at least some of us doing it right!

The Really Hard Problem

Examining this category at a deeper level than ever before will yield amazing results. Your Career Explore the meaning and rewards of a great career. Discover the three pillars upon which a successful, fulfilling career is based.

Learn strategies to take any career to a higher level — and make more money in the process! Week 6 Your Quality of Life This category will get you crystal clear on how you wish to spend the hours, the days, and the years of your life.

Your Lifebook Online Program may have ended, but your new, self-directed life, created by your own conscious choice, is only just beginning. Deep Transformation That Builds Over Time Now used by leading-edge schools and companies, micro-learning is the ultimate personal growth solution for busy people. How It Works 1. You begin the Lifebook Online program with the community on July 1st. You grow dramatically in just 3 — 6 hours a week 3 — 6 hours a week is all you need to watch your video lessons, practice your exercises, and awaken the power of Lifebook Online in every area of your life.

What Lifebook Students Say Lifebook is so powerful that we have the entire Mindvalley team take part in Lifebook trainings. Lifebook could be the alternative to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Lifebook can show young people that it is possible to create an extraordinary life without drugs and crime.This page was last edited on 22 May , at It can help you identify what you enjoy, find lost passions that you enjoyed once, and give you the motivation to get up and do things each day to help you live the life you want.

By this mechanism, the second law is obeyed, and life maintains a highly ordered state, which it sustains by causing a net increase in disorder in the Universe. What is Life? They sometimes provide enough energy so that, kapoot! John Chadwick.