Coffee@Beyond with George Ellis

The Difference between Physics and Biology: The Key Role of Biomolecules

Abstract: Physical emergence-crystals, rocks, sandpiles, turbulent eddies, planets, stars-is fundamentally different from biological emergence-amoeba, mice, humans-even though the latter is based in the former. This paper points out that the essential difference is that causation in biological systems has a branching logical nature at each level of the hierarchy of emergence, from the biomolecular level up. The key link between physics and life enabling this to happen is provided by bio-molecules, such as voltage gated ion channels, which enable logic to emerge from the underlying physics. They can only have come into being via the contextually dependent processes of natural selection, which selects them for their biological function.


Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science