A half dozen or so years ago, Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfeld characterized biology as the new condensed matter physics. More recently, Eugene Koonin advised “biology has to become the new condensed matter physics”. It’s an area of scientific research that is indeed ramping up, and not a moment too soon, after decades of puffery about a so-called selfish gene. But what exactly is meant by “the new condensed matter physics”? I decided to contact Syracuse University physicist Lisa Manning to help sort it all out in a conversation that follows.
The promo for your upcoming Simons Foundation lecture titled: “A Body Made of Glass” notes “self-organization is governed not only by biochemical signaling but also by collective mechanical interactions between cells” and that “such interactions cause biological material to behave as glassy ‘living materials’ near a fluid-solid transition.” Can you give me a sneak preview of your upcoming Simons talk about how cells “tune their stickiness” to get the job done? More.
The trouble with the selfish gene is that it was a philosophical theory about how genes behave and what we really need is more evidence.
See also: Suzan Mazur has some hard questions for NASA “astrovirology” expert Ken Stedman