Experiences in the Biocontinuum: A New Foundation for Living Systems
The central question in the biological sciences for the past 100 years has concerned an understanding of how living systems differ from other general physical phenomena and what makes these systems unique. With new developments in the fields of nonequilibrium thermodynamics, systems theory, chaos, and information theory over the past few decades, there has been growing interest in finally answering the question first posed by Erwin Schrödinger in the 1940s concerning the true scientific nature of living systems. Similarly, there is also increasing interest within the biologic community for a more holistic and non-reductionist methodology. The approach followed in this book builds on a foundation of information theory and semiotics while integrating basic thermodynamic considerations and systems theory to form a singular unifying concept that is proposed to be the essential process of living systems. However, the premise presented is much more than simply the exposition of a new hypothesis. This book describes the logical progression of thought incorporating a diverse array of established scientific ideas that were used in the conceptualization of a dynamic mathematical framework that can be employed as a novel analytic means for the study of living systems and their fundamental processes.
Dr Richard L. Summers is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Mississippi Medical School, where he serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. His research career has focused on translating basic science concepts into practical biomedical applications and interpreting clinical experiences in the context of fundamental physiologic meaning. Through training received under the eminent Arthur C. Guyton, his work has been facilitated by the use of advanced dynamic and integrative computer models of human physiology. With this modeling and systems analysis methodology, he has been able to pinpoint the critical functional mechanisms responsible for complex pathophysiologic conditions and received the Resuscitation Science Award from the American Heart Association for work in the development of a computer model platform designed to study hemodynamic states. He previously served for more than a decade as the Scientific Lead for the NASA Digital Astronaut Project to advance the understanding of the biologic adaptations of humans to microgravity conditions.
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