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Physics - Theoretical, Mathematical & Computational Physics | Physical Approaches to Biological Evolution

Physical Approaches to Biological Evolution

Volkenstein, Mikhail V.

Translated by Beknazarov, A.

Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1994, XIII, 399 pp. 142 figs.

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  • About this book

"Mr. Wolkenstein's Physical Approaches to Biological Evolution, whether or not it proves to give the ultimate truth on the matters with which it deals, certainly deserves, by its breadth and scope and profundity, to be considered an impor­ tant event in the philosophical world." This is a quotation from an introduction written by Bertrand Russell for Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I exchanged only name and subject. As for the rest, I could continue quoting Russell, but I would rather say something myself. As Wittgenstein did with formal logic, Wolkenstein rectifies our views on how to approach the logic of life from a formal theoretical basis. Many bio­ logists do not believe that their subject lends itself to the scrutiny of physical theory. They certainly admit that one can simulate biological phenomena by models that can be expressed in a mathematical form. However, they do not believe that biology can be given a theoretical foundation that is defined within the general framework of physics. Rather, they insist on a holistic approach, banning any reduction to fundamental principles subject to physical theory.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Biological Evolution - DNA - biology - evolution - evolutionary biology - genetics - molecular biology - population genetics - protein - proteins

Related subjects » Animal Sciences - Atomic, Molecular, Optical & Plasma Physics - Biochemistry & Biophysics - Biophysics & Biological Physics - Cell Biology - Theoretical, Mathematical & Computational Physics

Table of contents 

I Biological Evolution.- 1. Introduction.- 1.1 Living Nature.- 1.2 The Theory of Evolution.- 1.3 Physics and Biology.- 1.4 Concerning Anti-Reductionism.- 2. Evolutionary Methods.- 2.1 Palaeontology.- 2.2 Species.- 2.3 Gradualism and Punctualism.- 2.4 Macroevolution.- 2.5 The History of the Eye.- 3. Directionality of Evolution.- 3.1 Constraints on Natural Selection.- 3.2 Ontogeny.- 3.3 The Time Factors of Embryogenesis.- 3.4 Theoretical Approaches to Developmental Dynamics.- 3.5 Nomogenesis.- 4. Adaptation.- 4.1 Fitness.- 4.2 Biochemical Adaptation.- 4.3 Adaptability.- 4.4 Non-adaptiveness.- II Molecular Basis of Evolution.- 5. Proteins.- 5.1 The Protein Structure.- 5.2 Dynamics and Function.- 5.3 Modelling of Proteins.- 5.4 The Primary and Spatial Structures of Proteins.- 5.5 Evolution of Proteins.- 5.6 Protein Engineering.- 5.7 The Role of Metals.- 6. Neutrality of Point Mutations.- 6.1 The Neutral Theory.- 6.2 Quantitative Relationships.- 6.3 The Molecular Clock of Evolution and Neutral Theory.- 6.4 Pseudoneutral Mutations.- 6.5 Extinction of Species.- 7. The Molecular Drive.- 7.1 Genomes.- 7.2 Instability of the Genome.- 7.3 Gene Duplication.- 7.4 Unequal Crossing-Over and Gene Conversion.- 7.5 Molecular Drive.- 7.6 Molecular Evolution.- III Physics of Biological Evolution.- 8. Physical Theory of Molecular Evolution.- 8.1 The Eigen Theory.- 8.2 The Quasispecies and the Hypercycle.- 8.3 Quasispecies in Sequence Space.- 8.4 The Eigen Theory and Viruses.- 8.5 The Importance and Prospects of the Eigen Theory.- 9. Chaos and Order in Evolution.- 9.1 Chaos.- 9.2 Biology and Dynamical Chaos.- 9.3 Instabilities in Mendelian Systems.- 9.4 Speciation and Bifurcations.- 9.5 Motion in the Fitness Landscape.- 9.6 Directionality of Evolution and Synergetics.- 10. Informational Aspects of Evolution.- 10.1 Order, Information and Entropy.- 10.2 Information and Evolution.- 10.3 The Value of Information.- 10.4 Information Value, Indispensability and Complexity.- 10.5 The Value of Amino-Acid Residues.- 10.6 Game Models of Evolution.- 10.7 Information Theory, Synergetics, and Biology.- References.- Author Index.

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