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Signs of life : how complexity pervades biology / Ricard Solé and Brian Goodwin.

  • Solé, Ricard V., 1962-
[2000], ©2000
  • Books

About this work


"The authors touch on every major field of biology, from molecular genetics and neurobiology, through animal behavior and ecology, to evolution, extinction and even economics. At each level, they describe well-known phenomena that today's standard theories, steeped as they are in a kind of worship of the gene, are powerless to explain. Yet various tools of complexity theory can model them quite nicely. Signs of Life, then, is about explaining the unexplainable - more precisely, using new ideas to think about things today's ideas can't help us with. For instance: it's generally believed that cells with identical genomes in identical environments will lead identical lives. But they don't. Why?

How do such simple creatures as ants and termites manage such complex behavior as building huge nests and moving in swarms? And why do certain ant nests show pulses of activity that are not apparent in any individual ant? Classical ecology tells us that if two strongly competitive species try to occupy a common resource or territory, "competitive exclusion" will drive one of them to extinction. But if this is so, why are natural ecosystems so diverse? And why did all the basic body plans of the animal kingdom appear in a single geological era, and no new ones since? Was this inevitable, or a grand accident?".


New York : Basic Books, [2000], ©2000.

Physical description

xi, 322 pages, 4 pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Nonlinearity, chaos, and emergence -- Order, complexity, disorder -- Genetic networks, cell differentiation, and development -- Physiology on the edge of chaos -- Brain dynamics -- Ants, brains, and chaos -- The Baroque of nature -- Life on the edge of catastrophe -- Evolution and extinction -- Fractal cities and market crashes.


Copy 1 Donor: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.


  • English

Where to find it

  • Location

    Medical Collection QH501 2000S68s


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