Article ID: CBB676773689

Aging, DNA Information, and Authorship: Medawar, Schrödinger, and Samuel Butler (2020)


Eminent scientists are well-placed to bring the novel works of others, even if not in their own areas of expertise, to general attention. In so doing, they may be able to extend original accounts or introduce new terminologies, but they are basically messengers, not innovators. In the 1940s an evolutionary theory of biological aging was explained by Peter Medawar, and informational concepts relating to DNA were explained by Erwin Schrödinger. Both explanations were eventually traced back to the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler—one by Medawar’s research associate Alex Comfort, and the other, albeit indirectly, by Schrödinger himself. In his time Butler’s works were too erudite for general readers and too laden with populist jargon for contemporary experts to take seriously. However, today it appears counterfactually plausible that an early acceptance of his ideas would have greatly quickened the pace of research.

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Authors & Contributors
Breuer, Hans-Peter
Pauly, Philip J.
Hilgevoord, Jan
Amigoni, David
Shuttleworth, Sally A.
Perovic, Slobodan
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Modern Philology
Victorian Studies
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Social History of Medicine
MIT Press
Quantum mechanics
Butler, Samuel
Schrödinger, Erwin
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice
Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst
Heisenberg, Werner
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
United States
Birmingham (England)
Great Britain
Institut Pasteur, Paris

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