Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How can it be?

Ch. 2 of Biological Physics by Nelson reviews a myriad of exquisite biological structures and processes. It is easy to get lost in the detail. But, he ends nicely, emphasizing the need to focus on the question:

How can all these "miraculous" processes occur?

Is there some common underlying physics?

The key physical phenomena we will need to understand are
  • specificity
  • self-assembly
  • active transport
Other things to keep in mind and pay attention to are

-the hierarchy of length scales
-the hierarchy of energy scales associated with different types of bonding
-water with its unique properties is crucial, the hydrophobic interaction which drives many processes
-structure determines property which determines function

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