Sunday, October 13, 2019
understanding digital biology :: essays research papers
UNDERSTANDING DIGITAL BIOLOGY Explaining digital biology is impossible without explaining its principle. The purpose of this text is not to report experimental results. Rather, it tries to explain to laymen, in the simplest terms, this radically new approach to biology. We hope it will be useful to all, scientists or not, who find it hard to "make the leap". Indeed, is it possible to believe that the specific activity of biologically-active molecules (e.g. histamine, caffeine, nicotine, adrenalin), not to mention the immunological signature of a virus or bacterium can be recorded and digitized using a computer sound card, just like an ordinary sound? Imagine the perplexity of Archimedes confronted with a telephone, and being told that by using it he could be heard on the other side of the world, were we not to explain the nature of sound waves or their translation into electromagnetism. Life depends on signals exchanged among molecules. For example, when you get angry, adrenalin "tells" its receptor, and it alone (as a faithful molecule, it talks to no other) to make your heart beat faster, to contract superficial blood vessels, etc.. In biology, the words "molecular signal" are used very often. Yet, if you ask even the most eminent biologists what the physical nature of this signal is, they seem not even to understand the question, and stare at you wide-eyed. In fact, they've cooked up a rigorously Cartesian physics all their own, as far removed as possible from the realities of contemporary physics, according to which simple contact (Descarte's laws of impact, quickly disproved by Huygens) between two coalescent structures creates energy, thus constituting an exchange of information. For many years, I believed and recited this catechism without realizing its absurdity, just as mankind did not realize the absurdity of the belief that the sun cir cles the earth. The truth, based on facts, is very simple. It does not require any "collapse of the physical or chemical worlds." That molecules vibrate, we have known for decades. Every atom of every molecule and every intermolecular bond-the bridge that links the atoms-emits a group of specific frequencies. Specific frequencies of simple or complex molecules are detected at distances of billions of light-years, thanks to radio-telescopes. Biophysicists describe these frequencies as an essential physical characteristic of matter, but biologists do not consider that electromagnetic waves can play a role in molecular functions themselves. We cannot find the words "frequency"