Monday, March 7, 2011

What Mad Pursuit (I)

The book What Made Pursuit written by Francis Crick is much more than an autobiography. It is full of insights into biology, often from the perspective a physicist.

I have enjoyed reading the book so much that I have decided to post some excerpts, selected rather randomly, that I feel are particularly valuable.

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." - Oscar Wilde.

"Science is an enterprise with its own rules and customs, is quintessentially human." - from Preface

"The most important theme of the book is natural selection. is this basic mechanism that makes biology different from all the other sciences." - from Introduction

"The basic laws of physics can usually be expressed in exact mathematical form, and they are probably the same throughout the universe. The "laws" of biology, by contrast, are often only broad generalizations, since they describe rather elaborate chemical mechanisms that natural selection has evolved over billions of years." - from Introduction

"Elegance and a deep simplicity, often expressed in a very abstract mathematical form, are useful guides in physics, but in biology such intellectual tools can be very misleading. For this reason a theorist in biology has to receive much more guidance from the experimental evidence (however cloudy and confused) than is usually necessary in physics." - from Introduction

"It took me a little time to adjust to the rather different way of thinking necessary in biology. It was almost as if one had to be born again. Yet such a transition is not as difficult as all that and is certainly well worth the effort." - from Introduction