In February 1943 one of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th Century, Erwin Schrödinger, delivered a seminal lecture, entitled ‘What is Life?’, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in Trinity College, Dublin. The then Prime Minister, Éamon de Valera, attended the lecture and an account of it featured in the 5 April 1943, issue of Time magazine.
The lecture presented far-sighted ideas on how hereditary information could be encoded in a chemical structure (aperiodic crystal) in living cells. Schrödinger’s book (1944) of the same title is considered to be a scientific classic. The book was cited by Crick and Watson as one of the inspirations which ultimately led them to unravel the structure of DNA in 1953, a breakthrough which won them the Nobel prize. Recent advances in genetics and synthetic biology mean that it is now timely to reconsider the fundamental question posed by Schrödinger 70 years ago.
Craig Venter revisited Schrödinger’s question in a lecture entitled “What is Life? A 21st century perspective”; Thursday, July 12 at the Examination Hall in Trinity College Dublin.