The discovery of genetic encoding in the DNA molecule, and its mode of translation into protein structures, secured the modern view of biology as an information science. But it remains unclear what kind of information science it is. The all-too-ready analogy with computer programs stored on spools of magnetic tape has been hard to relinquish, even while the complexity of information storage and flow in the cell has become ever more apparent. To understand how life is sustained and evolves through encoding and processing of information, new ideas are now required, within which genetic encoding in DNA seems likely to provide only one part of a much broader and more profound puzzle. In particular, it seems likely that the emerging picture will need to take a more subtle view of causation, context and meaning in the orchestrated, hierarchical processes that make life possible.
One contribution of 21 to a theme issue ‘DNA as information’.
- Accepted December 17, 2015.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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