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Published June 12, 1970 | public
Journal Article

A Physicist's Renewed Look at Biology: Twenty Years Later


At the very beginnings of science the striking dissimilarities between the behavior of living and nonliving things became obvious. Two tendencies can be discerned in the attempts to arrive at a unified view of our world. One tendency is to use the living organism as the model system. This tendency is exemplified by Aristotle. For him, the son of a physician and. the keen observer of many forms of life, it was obvious that things develop according to plans. Every animal and plant is generated in some definite way, runs through a cycle of development in which it unfolds its inherent plan, and succumbs to death and decay. For Aristotle, this very obvious feature of the world which surrounds us is the model for understanding our (sublunar) world. Astronomy is the exception and offers the contrast of an eternal periodic system subject to neither generation nor decay.

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October 23, 2023