Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A New Biology for a New Century??

A New Biology for a New Century
Carl R. Woese

Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801

Biology today is at a crossroads. The molecular paradigm, which so successfully guided the discipline throughout most of the 20th century, is no longer a reliable guide. Its vision of biology now realized, the molecular paradigm has run its course. Biology, therefore, has a choice to make, between the comfortable path of continuing to follow molecular biology's lead or the more invigorating one of seeking a new and inspiring vision of the living world, one that addresses the major problems in biology that 20th century biology, molecular biology, could not handle and, so, avoided. The former course, though highly productive, is certain to turn biology into an engineering discipline. The latter holds the promise of making biology an even more fundamental science, one that, along with physics, probes and defines the nature of reality. This is a choice between a biology that solely does society's bidding and a biology that is society's teacher.

The entire paper is available for free from here: A New Biology for a New Century

An interesting paper from a few years back arguing that the way we understand and study biology needs to change focus, shifting from a molecular focus and a reductionist view of organisms to a wider view (which the author does not actually define). Any way if this sort of thing interests you I'd suggest reading it, and I would be interested in your opinion.

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