What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell.

First edition of Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell; In the Rare Original Dust Jacket

What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell.



Item Number: 119034

Cambridge: University Press, 1944.

Rare first edition of this collection of lectures by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist in which he presents the early theoretical description of the storage of genetic information cited by Crick and Watson as a source of inspiration for their initial research into the discovery of DNA. Small octavo, original cloth. Near fine in the rare original dust jacket which is in very good condition with a small stain to the front panel.

Austrian-Irish physicist Erwin Schrödinger was the author of many works on various aspects of physics: statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, physics of dielectrics, colour theory, electrodynamics, general relativity, and cosmology, and he made several attempts to construct a unified field theory. In one of the lectures included in What Is Life? Schrödinger introduced the idea of an "aperiodic crystal" that contained genetic information in its configuration of covalent chemical bonds which stimulated enthusiasm for discovering the genetic molecule. Although the existence of some form of hereditary information had been hypothesized since 1869, its role in reproduction and its helical shape were still unknown at the time of Schrödinger's lecture. In retrospect, Schrödinger's aperiodic crystal can be viewed as a well-reasoned theoretical prediction of what biologists should have been looking for during their search for genetic material. Both James D. Watson, and Francis Crick, who jointly proposed the double helix structure of DNA based on, amongst other theoretical insights, X-ray diffraction experiments by Rosalind Franklin, credited Schrödinger's book with presenting an early theoretical description of how the storage of genetic information would work, and each independently acknowledged the book as a source of inspiration for their initial research.

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