What is Life? A Scientific Exploration of the Essence of Life

  This book narrates the knowledge of genetic science that everyone cares about, including the new coronavirus, gene editing, immunotherapy, apparent remains, backup life, dreams come into reality, and break through the thick wall that separates science and the public .
  what is life In the first half of the 20th century, physicists were most enthusiastic about answering this question, and Schrödinger, the “cat cat god”, was one of the best. He wrote a book “What is Life”, trying to answer this question from a physical point of view. This book has been popular for 70 years since it was published, and it can be called a classic. Although everything in the book is just Schrödinger’s bold conjecture, it also inspired many outstanding physicists to finally invest in genetics research because of the search for “life mechanics”. Life science research began to break through at the molecular level, thanks to this book to a considerable extent.
  As a science student who has been involved in the field of life sciences for more than 20 years, my understanding of this issue is that the essence of life is chemistry, the essence of chemistry is physics, and the essence of physics is described by mathematics. Chemistry is unified on elements, classical physics is unified on atoms, quantum physics is unified on quantum, and life is unified on DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). In my opinion, life is just a huge and complex system composed of a group of elements combined in the way of classical physics and quantum physics.
  British science writer Paul Davis raised the combination of life and quantum physics to a new level in his book “Life and New Physics”, and faintly revealed molecular life (level above DNA, atomic basis) + quantum physics (Brain science, quantum basis) + information theory [life uses information as a common currency, based on bits (bytes)] The prelude to the fusion. From Maxwell’s demon to Schrödinger’s cat, from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem to Shannon’s theorem…the answer to the origin and essence of life and the existence of free consciousness seems to be forthcoming.
  The earth has existed for 4.6 billion years, and the history of known life has been 3.4 billion years. The academic circles have different understandings of who we are, why we were born, and where we go.
  Human beings who claim to be at the top of the food chain have only existed for a short moment when viewed against the background of the earth’s billions of years. Shakespeare’s “Man, you are the essence of the universe, the primate of all things” is understandable in literary works, but it is really arrogant in the biosphere. Human beings despised and beat them violently. Even now, human beings are still struggling to become kings. In my opinion, the king of the earth is microorganisms, and the king of multicellular organisms is insects. In terms of survival ability, human beings have always been crushed.
  Darwin is obviously more objective. He said that “human beings are characterized by bipedal upright walking, large brain capacity and high intelligence”. From today’s point of view, this definition is not perfect. We should probably say that a human has 23 pairs of chromosomes, a genome of 3 billion base pairs, a total of about 22,000 genes, and carries 10 times the number of human cells. Microbial organisms.
  Although compared with the past, our understanding of “I” has made great progress, but this is still not necessarily the truth of life. Evolution is still going on, and the “creator” may stop at any time, and exploring the unknown is the meaning of science and the uniqueness of human beings.
  Musk, the business genius who has popularized electric vehicles, recycled rockets, and intends to emigrate to Mars, once attributed his unique way of thinking to first principles. This concept originally originated from philosophy, which is the way of thinking that sees the essence through appearances. Every discipline has its first principle, the idea of ​​evolution, that is, heredity and variation are the instinct of life, and also the first principle of life, which is a new way of thinking provided by life science.
  When you worry about the communication gap between generations in terms of life choices, the evolutionary process will tell you that this is the driving force for life on earth to move forward—wolves who made different choices from their ancestors have become loyal dogs, amphibious The emergence of animals is also because some fish choose to leave the water, the reason why people can make and use tools, or because some maverick ancestors chose to come down from the tree to free their hands (front paws)…
  When you get carried away with self-esteem, natural history will tell you that although man claims to be the spirit of all things, he is just one of the creatures pushed to the throne by the hand of disordered evolution, which does not mean that we have the right to be above all things , or excessive demands on nature. Seeing your relationship with the outside world as a guest rather than a host will allow you to live with humility.
  When you are in the panic of birth, old age, sickness and death, looking through the history of life on earth, it is as natural to face up to the decline of life as it is to face up to the birth of life. Although human beings have cognitive limitations in terms of diseases, they have always made breakthroughs and innovations in fighting diseases. For example, now that we know that cancer is a genetic disease, we have begun to explore the use of the immune system to fight tumors, and carry out prevention, early screening, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis monitoring of tumors at the molecular level, and eventually cancer will become a chronic disease.
  Since the human genome was deciphered more than ten years ago, we have understood the composition of life from the molecular level. The development of technology has made the time and cost of personal genome sequencing from 13 years and 3.8 billion US dollars to 2 days and 3800 yuan today. , we can even use a smartphone in 2019 to analyze 15G of personal genome sequences in less than a day, and the “everyone’s genome era” is getting closer. This is a rallying point in the human battle to overcome diseases, and it is also a future worth looking forward to under the guidance of science and technology.
  If there is any essential difference between human beings and other beings, it is that human beings are good at discovering and utilizing things around them. The historical era of mankind is divided into the Stone Age, Copper Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Steam Age, Electric Age, Atomic Age, Information Age…corresponding to different stages of human research and creation of new things. People are constantly mastering new technologies and relying on them to change the world in which they live.
  As one of the three major scientific projects in the 21st century, the Human Genome Project has opened the prelude to the era of life. With unprecedented new tools, people can explore themselves from a microscopic perspective, and it has also brought new hope for human health.
  Regrettably, the status quo in which the good and the bad are flying together in the information world has brought troubles to the public who are easily influenced by information. As far as cancer-causing food is concerned and gene editing is as far as it is concerned, most people are ignorant, anxious and hesitant in the ocean of information, and quite resistant to new changes brought about by technological progress, but they can’t say anything except “not good” . But to oppose for the sake of opposition, and to easily shut out things that you don’t understand is not beneficial to yourself, but also causes social panic, which really delays the development of science and technology.
  In fact, the nature of technology itself is neutral, and it is extremely unwise to block all progress in order to avoid negative effects. The continuous advancement of technology does not depend on human will, and whether technology is an angel or a demon depends on how we use it.
  I am optimistic about the future of technology because I believe that there are good angels in human nature. Millions of years ago, ancient humans gathered together to pass on wisdom through oral stories, and then from wisdom to kindness, they continued to learn from things. Human beings start to communicate, help each other, create, seek knowledge, and be kind. After material abundance, they seek spiritual sustenance and constantly think about the special meaning of being human.
  With the development of science, scientists already have recognized binding rules in terms of bioethics, and the vast majority of scientists will stick to the red line of ethics and not touch the restricted areas of scientific research. The test-tube baby technology was born more than 40 years ago, and millions of angels were born healthy; Dolly was born more than 20 years ago, and the cloning technology has not brought about the consequences that people once feared. For the emergence of new technologies, we should maintain an open mind and welcome reasonable discussions instead of unfounded worries. Although the truth is unclear, the collision of ideas should take place between clear minds. Understanding emerging science and technology is the prerequisite for speculative communication.
  I have always said that the bigger the known circle, the bigger the unknown circle. We should maintain a sense of awe for nature and the unknown. The future is uncertain, and because of this, the future is full of infinite possibilities. Being in awe of the unknown and keeping the bottom line to promote technological progress is the proper attitude for the future.

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