theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them
and atthe risk of making fools of ourselves.
Schrodinger then goes on to express his sheer w
onder, from a physicist’s point of view, at themystery of life. He critiques the current limitations of his own discipline’s understandings by
pointing out that both physics and chemistry are statistical sciences, and asks what is in the
physicist’s “toolbox” that may contribute to learning more about life.
We can return to Schrodinger after a journey through Davies, as indeed this is actuallytwo book reviews in one and may get quite lengthy. An author I
’ve recently cited in another
paper described in his own preface
the concept of “archival density”
that of how many hoursper page a work required for adequate comprehension
work has a fairly high
“archival density” for me as a non
-scientist, and probably for everyone else as well. But let us
consider two of his beginning questions before moving on: “How can events in space and time
which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics
and “Why must our bodies be so large compared to an atom?”
By comparison, Davies has an archival density of zero
no one need spend an hour overhis written page because he masterfully guides the reader through various data and hypothesesand problematic issues like a well-seasoned professor. In sharp contrast to Schrodinger, it iseasy to lose track of how much theoretical ground one has covered. Nonetheless, it certainly
has a cumulative effect on the mind. Let’s dig in!
Davies reports that Sir Arthur Eddington, a 20
century British astrophysicist whohelped to popularize general relativity theory, regarded the second law of thermodynamics as
occupying the supreme position among the laws of nature to the point that he wrote: “if your
theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is
Arthur L. Stinchcombe.
Sugar Island Slavery in the Age of Enlightenment: The Political Economy of the CaribbeanWorld
. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995). p. xiii.
. What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1955)p. 1.
Ibid. p. 6.