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Published on Oct 19, 2012
"Natural History versus the Physical Sciences. How Scientists Approach the "Big Questions"" Dr. Steven Benner - Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution and The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology
Two cultures have separated biology over the past century. The first, represented by Charles Darwin, attempts to infer the history of organisms, which are generally considered in their living form. The second, spoken in the language of chemistry and physics, dissects those organisms in stages, the tissue, the cell, and ultimately the bio-molecule, generally after the organism is quite dead. The conflict between the cultures has divided biology departments in the academy and represents two very different cultures in science, education, funding, and accomplishment. Yet one cannot understand any system, from the QWERTY computer keyboard to the European Union, without understanding both their structures and their histories, and this truism applies to biology as well. This talk will describe, in lay terms, how the attempt to put back together natural history with the physical sciences is revolutionizing how we look at life, both in its natural state and in diseases, and how this revolution will affect the practical (how we manage the care of patients) to the ethereal (how we look for life on other planets).