Huffington blog DARE TO BE 100
November 30, 2017
PHYSICS MAKES AGING INEVITABLE
This is the title of an essay written by Prof. Peter Hoffman and published by Nautilus. Peter is a professor of physics at Wayne State University and is the author of a most challenging book called Life’s Ratchet. In it he exploits his competence in the weird nano technology world. He has actually mastered a fantastic new tool called the atomic force microscope that allows the investigator to dissect the world into its smallest units and visualize atoms, themselves. The AFM is a 1000 times more powerful than the best optical microscope. As he turns up the power of the microscope he is enabled to see molecules in motion yielding the new field of molecular biology.
What is revealed is a whole new nano-universe. Like dust particles caught in a beam of light the molecules are in constant motion known as Brownian Motion that is a remnant of the singularity created at the Big Bang. Einstein utilized such activity to justify his far ranging hypotheses. The laws of thermodynamics rule the chaos of this nano world. These tiny machines of nature are responsible for the full display of life that emerges from this tempest. Hoffman calls this activity “the molecular storm.” I was delighted to read that Sean Carroll dealt with this in his recent compendium The Big Picture.
Every molecular machine in our bodies is hit by a fast-moving water molecule every 10 to the -13/second . Every millisecond the average molecule undergoes 10 billion collisions with other water molecules that deliver a finite jolt of energy that yields ordered structure out of the chaos. The resultant dissipative structures become LIFE. I have proposed the new term Metabolic Field (Schrodinger) to represent the vast emergent cosmos of molecular biology. The operational effectiveness of this chaos is enabled by catalytic enzymes and innumerable feedback mechanisms that are inherent in this mini-micro-nano domain that Richard Feynman introduced with his epochal lectures “lots of room at the bottom”. To me this is like visualizing a coral reef for the first time revealing the incredible dynamism so that every moment whole new worlds appear.
Such a generic perspective on life yields a secondary reality. Since every particle in the universe ages the replicative function of the gene is not inherent in the big picture. Aging transcends biology. Aging is physics.
Mortality is ours to bear.