Martin Wood Complex, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU
The most important non-equilibrium phenomenon in biology? Efforts to understand and re-engineer information propagation by the copying of template polymer sequences.
The complexity of biology is fundamentally reliant on the processes of the central dogma - replication, transcription and translation. As I will argue, these processes produce outputs that are about as far from thermodynamic equilibrium as they could be. This fact helps explain why - despite the obvious incentives - the scientific community has had limited success in engineering synthetic analogues hitherto. In this talk I will cover our attempts to apply basic theory to understand the fundamental physical constraints under which copying systems must operate, and then translate that basic understanding into the construction of synthetic copying systems in the laboratory.