by Andre on 1 April 2005
In his article Why a Lion?, Stephen Strauss explains that something he finds “a little despairing about biology is that it is so denuded in terms of theory.” I can’t say that I totally agree since there have been good theorists in biology for a long time, but it is certainly true that no one has been able to come up with a quantitative theory that does justice to the hugely unifying empirical observation that all of life’s programs are written in the same language. As Strauss suggests, “reorganization as dramatic as that fomented by Einstein or Newton in physics clearly is possible if someone can produce a simple, cohesive theory of how DNA evolves, stays the same, and remains viable throughout the process.” I find it fascinating to think that there may be some relatively simple laws underlying evolution.
So, does biology need an Einstein? It wouldn’t hurt, but if people want to this putative Biostein to make an impact in biology, they had better start giving young students the quantitative tools they will need to formulate these laws, if they exist.