Event 369

Paul Davies

The John Maddox Lecture: The Demon in the Machine – How Hidden Webs of Information Are Finally Solving the Mystery of Life

Venue: Oxfam Moot

When Darwin set out to explain the origin of species, he made no attempt to answer the deeper question: what is life? For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new? From life’s murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, Davies offers a breath-taking journey across the landscape of physics, biology, logic and computing. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window on the secret of life itself. Chaired by Marcus du Sautoy.

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Paul Davies