Scientific scenarios for the origin of life: God is doing fine, thanks for asking

AS DARWIN’S COMPELLING DISCOURSE on evolution and natural selection gained a firm ground in the scientific imagination, researchers felt they were ready to address the next grand challenge: the origin of life on earth. Yet, I will argue, they plunged into the problem haphazardly and prematurely. Not surprisingly, their efforts were misguided by the lack […]

PROTEIN FOLDING PROBLEM: IT’S THE MATRIX!

Solving the protein folding problem from physical principles is surely a daunting task and perhaps the main open challenge of the post-genomic era. It entails identifying the folding pathways that enable the protein to find its native structure and predict the latter solely from the amino acid sequence of the protein. Progress in this area has been hampered by unproductive borderline-theological discussions on the modeling […]

Book Critique: “Transformative Concepts for Drug Design: Target Wrapping”

The pharmaceutical world has been in a state of disarray for quite a while. With most low-hanging fruits already picked, drug discovery seems riskier and more uncertain than ever. Projects often get terminated in mid-stage clinical trials, new targets are getting harder to find, and successful therapeutic agents are often recalled as unanticipated side effects […]

EVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY: LISTEN TO DARWIN BUT DON’T FORGET KIMURA

MONUMENTAL as it surely is, Darwin’s opus does not contain a theory of evolution, at least in the scientific sense. It does not enable us to make verifiable predictions, the hallmark of validation for scientific theory. Many a-priori evolutionary outcomes could in principle result from within a scenario where selection pressure becomes operative. Darwin only explains the […]

HUMAN EVOLUTION: NO EASY FIX

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST BY ARIEL FERNANDEZ STIGLIANO IS REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM PROJECT SYNDICATE. HUMANS are undeniably complex, and proud of it. No case, we believe, needs to be made for our biological superiority. Our biological functions are exquisitely regulated and resilient to external variations, owing to complicated webs of interactions. Unlike other species, we seem to […]

BYE BYE DEBYE, BUT WE ARE IN THE COLD NOW

Debye’s theory of water dielectrics is truly remarkable, especially given that he had no knowledge of the nanoscale structure of water. His crucial assumption that water polarization aligns with the internal electrostatic field paved the way for major progress and magically simplified the electrostatic theory. Debye never meant his theory to apply in contexts where water […]