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Counting Molecules



Counting Molecules 2005


Puzzle 1: What is the logic behind designing experiments with and without complexity? 

All information in biology is connected - within and across hierarchical levels.  Molecules occur at one end of this hierarchy of size and organisms at the other.  What does this mean?  Since all information is continuous, we can start at any point in a biological system and travel to any other point - by rule.  Such rules, which take the form of equations, become readily available in a data-driven biology.    

Unfortunately, we are reminded - all too frequently - of a cold, hard fact.  With so many parts and connections, the complexity of biology becomes so overwhelming that we are forced to retreat and accept reductionism as our principal research model.  Rubbish.  Complexity is what makes biology interesting and deserving of our attention.  It's the very spice of research.  Without it, what would be left to challenge us? 

We begin the solution to this puzzle with a basic truth.  Organization is the first step toward understanding complexity.  This defines our strategy.  By solving complexity puzzles with equations, we become privy to the organizational foundations of our methods and to those of the biology we seek to explore.