Mathematicians v the rest: is the great divide about to close?

Most people who have ben through even a bit of education, soon notice a rather odd but repeatable phenomenon. Mathematicians versus the rest. It is a bit cultural, a bit behavioural and a bit intellectual. Maths, and its camp followers in things like physics and computing, seem to think one way. Whereas biologists, with strong allies in things like humanities, seem to run very differently.

This of course boils over into sometimes heated discussions like “can you use mathematical formulae to explain life?” or the famous idea that life has “emergent” behaviours” such as consciousness, which cannot be explained by the laws of physics.

Some thinkers, including such luminaries as JBS Haldane, Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodigger had long argued that physics might one day explain life. In 1943 Schrodigger even had a good stab at how a real gene might look and function-ten years before Messrs Watson and Crick. Eighty years later, there are exciting signs that at last the two areas of learning may be pulled together. Writing in Nautilus, Professor Sidney Perkowitz has an exciting new insight. Studying the information encoded in the DNA of an organism will in turn reveal its thermodynamic behaviour. Perhaps even how the structure of its neurons leads to consciousness. In higher beasts such as humans or dolphins of course.

Neurons depend on neurotransmitters. and Nature takes this further. If drugs act like neurotransmitters, then the attempts to use quantum computing to design and refine them could have enormous implications. We at LSS see this as having enormous potential for those suffering from terrible degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, or illnesses such as schizophrenia. This would indeed be the beginning of understanding life at the quantum level of explanation, the final act in uniting the physical and biological sciences.

Biology Flirts with Quantum Computing

Biomedical researchers are beginning to probe the possibilities of quantum computing. The technology offers the tantalizing prospect of speeding up tasks such as working out the best arrangement for atoms in a drug molecule, or simulating molecular processes such as photosynthesis. The next few years will reveal “what problems it will help solve and where it will really increase our understanding”, says structural bioinformatician Charlotte Deane.Nature Methods | 19 min read

The Math of Living Things – Issue 102: Hidden Truths – Nautilus

we thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for this insight into something that may be rather big!

#mathematics #biology #quantum #consciousness #disease #illness

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