Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, and many things in evolution only make sense in the light of information. Living organisms use the information stored in their genes, as well as information that can be extracted from the environment, to survive and strive. However, much of that information is hidden (encrypted), preventing us from connecting genes to traits, molecular signals to biomarkers, or neuronal firing patterns to behavior. I give an introduction to the definition of information, how to recognize the signs of encrypted information, and then discuss possible tools to break the code and reveal cryptographically hidden information.
Dr. Adami obtained his Ph.D. and M.A. in theoretical physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, as well as a Diploma in Physics from Bonn University (Germany). His main research focus is Darwinian evolution, which he studies at different levels of organization (from simple molecules to brains). He has pioneered the application of methods from information theory to the study of evolution, and designed the “Avida” system that launched the use of digital life as a tool for investigating basic questions in evolutionary biology. When not overly distracted by living things, he studies the fate of classical and quantum information in black holes. He wrote the textbook “Introduction to Artificial Life” (Springer, 1998), and is the recipient of NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS).