“One can best feel in dealing with living things how primitive physics still is,” said Albert Einstein. “Can life be explained in terms of physics or will it always be a mystery? And if physics can explain life, is existing physics up to the job, or might it require something fundamentally new – new concepts, new laws even?” asks Arizona State University cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and astrobiologist, Paul Davies answering Einstein.

Because nobody knows how non-life transitioned to life on Earth, observes Davies, it is impossible to estimate the odds of it springing forth elsewhere in the universe. To date we know of just one sample of life, that which exists here on Earth.

“Given that the conceptual gulf between physics and biology is so deep, and that existing laws of physics already provide a perfectly satisfactory explanation of the individual atoms and molecules that make up living organisms, it is clear that a full explanation of living matter entails something altogether more profound: nothing less than a revision of the nature of physical law itself,” suggests Davies.

What is missing, he observes in The Demon in the Machine, is a comprehensive set of principles that will explain all the puzzles in the magic box of life within a unitary theory. Life, says Davies, “opens up regions of ‘possibility space’ that are inaccessible to non-living systems.”

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