Reviews of topical problems

The origin of life and thinking from the viewpoint of modern physics

Lebedev Physical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky prosp. 53, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Attempts at a physical picture of how living creatures emerge from nonliving matter are beset with difficulties due to a low probability of some of the stages of the process. It is shown that these difficulties arise from the misconstruction of the term ’coding’ and that they are overcome by assuming that the polynucleotide catalized rather than ’coded’ the formation of protein in primary organisms (hypercycles). A realistic scenario including the emergence of a unified code is considered for such a process. A physical mechanism of thinking and the basis of a necessary evolutionary change are discussed, for which purpose the concepts of information, valuable information, and information generation are analyzed. It is shown that thinking reduces largely to pattern recognition. A possible molecular mechanism of recognition is considered which is shown to be quite likely to have appeared in the course of evolution.

Fulltext is available at IOP
PACS: 87.10.+e, 87.15.−v, 87.90.+y, 89.70.+c (all)
DOI: 10.1070/PU2000v043n02ABEH000609
Citation: Chernavskii D S "The origin of life and thinking from the viewpoint of modern physics" Phys. Usp. 43 151–176 (2000)
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Оригинал: Чернавский Д С «Проблема происхождения жизни и мышления с точки зрения современной физики» УФН 170 157–183 (2000); DOI: 10.3367/UFNr.0170.200002c.0157

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