'What is Life?' Fiction, Not Science

What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Erwin Schrödinger. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1967. 96 pp. (Originally published in 1944.) Schrödinger's book is written is an engaging, lively, almost poetic style ("The probable lifetime of a radioactive atom is less predictable than that of a healthy sparrow.") Up to 1948 it drew 65 reviews and it has probably by now sold about 100,000 copies. It has become a classic that has provided a nourishing habitat for historia

Mf Perutz
Apr 5, 1987
What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Erwin Schrödinger. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1967. 96 pp. (Originally published in 1944.)


Schrödinger's book is written is an engaging, lively, almost poetic style ("The probable lifetime of a radioactive atom is less predictable than that of a healthy sparrow.") Up to 1948 it drew 65 reviews and it has probably by now sold about 100,000 copies. It has become a classic that has provided a nourishing habitat for historians, sociologists and philosophers of science who have commented on it, on the comments on it, or on the comments on the comments on it. A Ph.D. thesis published on the subject in 1979 contains over 120 references, excluding the 65 reviews.

Schrödinger's book begins with a chapter on "The Classical Physicist's Approach to the Subject." Schrödinger asks how events in space and time taking place in a living...

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