What is Life? (Chapter 5) - Schrodinger

Persons

Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück – was a German–American biophysicist who participated in launching the molecular biology research program in the late 1930s. He stimulated physical scientists’ interest into biology, especially as to basic research to physically explain genes, mysterious at the time. 

Definitions

amorphous – lacking a clear structure or focus.

Summary

Question: are these structures (molecules) composed of comparatively few atoms capable of withstanding for long periods the disturbing influence of heat motion to which the hereditary substance is continually exposed?

Energy thresholds required to create isomers must be high to make changes (mutations) a rare event.

The assumption at the time of writing (1944) was that genes were molecules.

Genes and possibly chromosome fibers are likely aperiodic solids (structure consisting of large aggregate without repetition)

**Note: Just nine years later, it was clear that DNA is indeed an aperiodic crystal and that genetic information is conveyed through this irregular pattern.

A well ordered association of atoms, endowed with sufficient resistivity to keep its order permanently appears to be the only conceivable material structure that offers a variety of possible arrangements sufficiently large to embody a complicated system of determinations within a small spatial boundary.  Additionally the number of atoms in such a structure need not be large to produce an almost unlimited number of possible arrangements (example morse code).  

This system can account for high degrees of permanence with high thresholds for spontaneous mutation.

 

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