Why is Life so special?
We look around us and see thousands of phenomena – the wind blowing in the trees, a car motoring along a road, a rock tumbling down a stream. We can peer through our telescopes to see further – storms raging on Jupiter, volcanoes erupting on Io, stars forming in the Crab Nebula. But life seems vastly different from each of these. Does it obey the same rules?
A clue to understanding life is the realisation that its dynamics are different than those that rule the non-living. For inanimate objects, the dynamics we see are the product of the disordered motion of billions of particles; they are a kind of average dynamics. At the macroscopic level we see patterns and order, but at the molecular level there is only chaos. But life is different. Inside living cells, there is order right down to the level of that single molecule that governs the form of every creature that lives or has ever lived: DNA. Living dynamics are not a product of chaos but of the highly structured action directed by the molecular ringmaster: DNA.