From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity: A Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought (Hardback)
  • From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity: A Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought (Hardback)
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From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity: A Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought (Hardback)

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£150.00
Hardback 768 Pages / Published: 23/05/2013
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This book presents a vivid argument for the almost lost idea of a unity of all natural sciences. It starts with the "strange" physics of matter, including particle physics, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, cosmology, relativity and their consequences (Chapter I), and it continues by describing the properties of material systems that are best understood by statistical and phase-space concepts (Chapter II). These lead to entropy and to the classical picture of quantitative information, initially devoid of value and meaning (Chapter III). Finally, "information space" and dynamics within it are introduced as a basis for semantics (Chapter IV), leading to an exploration of life and thought as new problems in physics (Chapter V). Dynamic equations - again of a strange (but very general) nature - bring about the complex familiarity of the world we live in. Surprising new results in the life sciences open our eyes to the richness of physical thought, and they show us what can and what cannot be explained by a Darwinian approach. The abstract physical approach is applicable to the origins of life, of meaningful information and even of our universe.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198570219
Number of pages: 768
Weight: 1826 g
Dimensions: 253 x 201 x 40 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
A very special, fascinating and unique book. It is difficult to imagine a reader who would not learn something new and deep in this book. The book constitutes a true tour de force [and] would definitely be of broad interest to the general public, students, professors, scientists, and those with a sufficient science background who are interested in current, state-of-the-art science. * Contemporary Physics, *
In his treatise From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity, which he has worked on for 15 years, Nobelist Manfred Eigen aims to integrate current scientific knowledge from different fields to show that evolution is a physical process based on clear physical laws. [] The book offers a joyful but not shallow route through the complications that arise on the way from elementary particle physics to complex forms of life. The author enriches the book with many personal stories, included just for fun. * Arne Traulsen, Science *
This is a fascinating book by a very important scientist, writing on a topic of great significance - the fundamental theoretical challenges posed by the origin and evolution of complex lifeforms. * David Krakauer, Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery *
This is a book written by a very important contributor to evolutionary theory and the prebiotic chemistry of the origin of life, where the boundaries between physics, chemistry and biology become entangled. Eigen's quest has been to identify the critical transitions between chemistry and biology. In this encyclopedic book, information plays a central role, in particular, the way information is preserved through mechanisms of genetic replication and repair. The core of Eigen's project has been the error threshold theory, and its theoretical tributaries including hypercycles, virus replication strategies and genetic phase transitions. These approaches form the conceptual background of the book and provide a foundation for Eigen's far reaching intellectual explorations into living systems. * David Krakauer, Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery *
Here, finally, is the book from Manfred Eigen that we have been awaiting for so many years. * Jack D. Dunitz, Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, ETH Zurich *
The physical sciences, often called the "hard sciences", are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences. Eigen's book aims to show that natural selection is a true physical principle, working via error-prone replication. Both "stability of information" and the selection of advantageous alternatives require that such errors be kept below some threshold value. And this, in turn, leads to the conclusion that evolutionary processes can ultimately be described "by a system of non-linear differential equations which [are] generally solvable". In short, the life sciences are harder than the physical sciences, but ultimately they are very similar. This is a clearly written, ambitious and important book. It deserves a wide readership. * Robert M May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford *
One of the deepest problems of nature is how life emerges from the workings of physical laws. In this masterly, erudite volume, Manfred Eigen traces the path that is now emerging into view, and does so with scholarly insight and the sense of being not only in control of the issues but at the forefront of current thought. * Peter Atkins, University of Oxford *
Charles Darwin's greatest achievement was to establish natural selection as the main cause of biological evolution, and later in his life he believed that "the principle of continuity renders it probable that the principle of life will hereafter be shown to be part, or consequence of some general law". However, he could not prove this point during his life time. In his monumental book, Manfred Eigen has provided such a general physical theory for the evolution of life. The work described in this book provides a formal theoretical proof for Darwin's principle of natural selection. It is the culmination of Manfred Eigen's lifelong theoretical and experimental work and it bridges the gap that previously existed between physics and biology. * Walter Gehring, Biozentrum, University of Basel *
What a splendid antidote to the swagger of physicists and biologists who think they already understand the living universe! Manfred Eigen pulls back the carpet like a careful housekeeper and brings to light mind-wrenching questions that most scientists brush out of sight. His search for the physical roots of the logic of life is not an easy path to follow, but Eigen helps us all he can with his polymathic skill and lucid style. * Nigel Calder, science writer and broadcaster, author of Magic Universe: The Oxford Guide to Modern Science *

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