👓 First Support for a Physics Theory of Life | Quanta Magazine

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life by Natalie Wolchover (Quanta Magazine)
Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

Interesting article with some great references I’ll need to delve into and read.


The situation changed in the late 1990s, when the physicists Gavin Crooks and Chris Jarzynski derived “fluctuation theorems” that can be used to quantify how much more often certain physical processes happen than reverse processes. These theorems allow researchers to study how systems evolve — even far from equilibrium.

I want to take a look at these papers as well as several about which the article is directly about.


Any claims that it has to do with biology or the origins of life, he added, are “pure and shameless speculations.”

Some truly harsh words from his former supervisor? Wow!


maybe there’s more that you can get for free

Most of what’s here in this article (and likely in the underlying papers) sounds to me to have been heavily influenced by the writings of W. Loewenstein and S. Kauffman. They’ve laid out some models/ideas that need more rigorous testing and work, and this seems like a reasonable start to the process. The “get for free” phrase itself is very S. Kauffman in my mind. I’m curious how many times it appears in his work?

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Author: Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

12 thoughts on “👓 First Support for a Physics Theory of Life | Quanta Magazine”

  1. @ChristophAdami I remember being leery when Quanta ran the first story on his “program” a year ago. I bookmarked this and his two recent papers to remember to take a look at the underlying work to see how far he’s progressed. I suspect there is overreach on the part of the article itself and I’m curious if the papers are as rosy-colored, though on first blush, they didn’t appear to have enough substance to substantiate these types of claims.
    I did note in my highlights the brutal response his thesis advisor provided in the piece! Ouch.
    I’d love to hear your detailed thoughts, though not in 140 character chunks, so please do write that piece.

    via stream.boffosocko.com

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