Recent opportunities for an increasing role for physical explanations in biology

Abstract
Relations between physics and biology have been always difficult. One reason is that physical approaches to the phenomena of life have frequently been conceived by their authors as alternatives to biological explanations. My argument is that molecular descriptions and explanations have been pushed so far that they have reached their limits: these limits constitute a favourable niche in which physical explanations can develop. I will focus on the field of molecular and cell biology and give many examples of these recent physical studies made possible by the precision of molecular observations. The nature of these niches is probably diverse. I consider that it is too early to have a global view of the interactions between biological and physical explanations, and to organize them into different categories. Such interactions are not new within the life sciences: the history of biology reveals a complex, permanently moving landscape of interactions between biological and physical explanations
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