Physics of Biology


What I Was Doing When I Was Einstein's Age of Discovery

Authors: David Martin Degner

AWhen I was in my twenties I worked on the problem: What is Life? In 1980/81 I was a research associate in molecular genetics at the University of California at Berkeley working for a professor in bacteriology. I wrote for the professor a 57 legal sized page, hand written and unedited essay in the form of a sequence of 72 questions and answers that focused on Gram (+) prokaryotic cells, the hydrogen of biology. The professor failed to comment or ask a single question. Back then I was into equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics, reversible and irreversible processes, chemical interactions and kinetics, static and dynamic phase organization, mass/energy and information flow, information definition and information processing, and modeling biological cells as chemical computers, i.e. Turing machines. I've faithfully transcribed that unedited sequence of questions and answers here. It's at times quite tedious and there were some major errors but there also is some really good science. There is always chaos embedded in new work. This is a qualitative, phenomenological model of the central processing unit of the prokaryotic cell that is the first step in obtaining a fully quantitative model for biology.

Comments: 37 pages

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Submission history

[v1] 9 Feb 2010

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