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How Can a Chemical System Act Purposefully? Bridging between Life and Non-Life

Speaker: Addy Pross, Ben Gurion University
Date & Time: October 21, 2008 - 11:00am
Location: WL-Aud

How Can a Chemical System Act Purposefully? Bridging between Life and Non-Life
Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Addy Pross, Ben Gurion University
11:00 AM, WL-Aud

Chemistry enables us to understand the properties of chemical systems based on their chemical structure. For example, we understand why water is soft, why ice is hard, and why metals are shiny and conduct electricity. However this kind of understanding is lacking for the basic properties of living systems. In particular, one of living systems� most striking characteristics, already evident at the single cell level, is their purposeful (teleonomic) character, but a chemical understanding of that character and, in particular, how it might have emerged, remains missing. In this talk we will explore the chemical nature of purpose (teleonomy) within a general framework that attempts to further clarify the physico-chemical relationship between animate and inanimate systems. A key element of the analysis is our proposal that all living systems constitute a kinetic state of matter, as opposed to the traditional thermodynamic states that dominate the inanimate world. We will attempt to demonstrate that it is this difference in kinetic and thermodynamic factors within each of the two worlds that leads to the unique characteristics of living systems, and in particular, to the one we term "purpose". The relationship of the model to Darwinian theory and implications to the possible synthesis of living cells will be briefly discussed.

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