Aging, DNA Information, and Authorship: Medawar, Schrödinger, and Samuel Butler

Biological Theory 15 (1):50-55 (2020)

Abstract
Eminent scientists are well-placed to bring the novel works of others, even if not in their own areas of expertise, to general attention. In so doing, they may be able to extend original accounts or introduce new terminologies, but they are basically messengers, not innovators. In the 1940s an evolutionary theory of biological aging was explained by Peter Medawar, and informational concepts relating to DNA were explained by Erwin Schrödinger. Both explanations were eventually traced back to the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler—one by Medawar’s research associate Alex Comfort, and the other, albeit indirectly, by Schrödinger himself. In his time Butler’s works were too erudite for general readers and too laden with populist jargon for contemporary experts to take seriously. However, today it appears counterfactually plausible that an early acceptance of his ideas would have greatly quickened the pace of research.
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DOI 10.1007/s13752-019-00340-8
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