The chemical machine

The mechanical concept of nature spread very quickly in seventeenth century Europe, but not without conflict. Opposition came from virtually all quarters, and it was violent. Apart from the rejection by Aristotelian academics, there was a new science that was slowly Figure 1.1 The Writer, built in the middle of the eighteenth century by the Swiss inventor Pierre Jacquet-Droz, is a beautiful automaton sitting at a writing desk that dips his pen into the inkwell, shakes off the excess ink, and...

Brief Summary

Semantic biology has been developed in stages since the 1970s. The mathematical papers appeared in 1974 and 1987 (Barbieri, 1974a, 1974b, 1987). The first biological paper was The ribotype theory on the origin of life (Barbieri, 1981) and the first general theory (the concept of evolution by natural conventions) was proposed in The Semantic Theory of Evolution (Barbieri, 1985). The idea that splicing and signal transduction are based on organic codes was introduced much later (Barbieri, 1998),...

The seven kingdoms

Molecular data did allow us to reconstruct the primordial dichotomies that gave rise to eubacteria and archaebacteria (Figures 6.1 and 6.2), but so far have not revealed much about the other stages of cellular evolution. The eukaryotic cell is such a complex labyrinth that it is very hard to understand how its pieces were put together. It is even possible that its structures were so thoroughly mixed that historical traces have been lost forever. It is also true, however, that molecular...

The metabolism paradigm

The sudden appearance on Earth of a system capable of both metabolism and replication is too unlikely to be taken seriously. All reasonable theories on the origin of life assume therefore that chemical evolution started from systems that could perform only one of those functions. Hence the great schism between metabolismfirst theories (Oparin's paradigm) and replication-first scenarios In favour of the metabolism paradigm there are, first of all, the results of the simulation experiments, and...

Common descent

The publication of On the Origin of Species was an immediate success, and the theory of evolution by natural selection was recognised from the start as one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind. At his death, Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey, near great thinkers of the past such as Newton and Hume, even though his theory was regarded as a danger to religion. It has been said that there is a paradox in these honours because Darwin did not invent the idea of evolution nor that of...