The new physics needed to probe the origins of life

A World Beyond Physics: The Emergence and Evolution of Life Stuart A. Kauffman Oxford University Press (2019)



His key insight is motivated by what he calls “the nonergodic world” — that of objects more complex than atoms. Most atoms are simple, so all their possible states can exist over a reasonable period of time. Once they start interacting to form molecules, the number of possible states becomes mind-bogglingly massive. Only a tiny number of proteins that are modestly complex — say, 200 amino acids long — have emerged over the entire history of the Universe. Generating all 20020 of the possibilities would take aeons. Given such limitations, how does what does exist ever come into being?


Nature 569, 36-38 (2019)