#TAOL (The Architecture Of  Life, November 22, 2014):

SynTalk thinks about the key conditions that characterize and create ‘biological’ life while constantly wondering whether life is a random accident, and if we are alone in the universe (because of a singularity?). What is the future of life? How aliens (if any) are also likely to be carbon and water based, but could be completely different morphologically and functionally. How was the first cell formed, and is this one of the biggest open questions today? The continuing journey after the big bang from the physical to astrophysical to chemical to biological to social evolution (across all species via, say, pollination) way into the distant future. The concepts are derived off / from Darwin, Crick, Watson, Hoyle, Prigogine, Manfred Eigen, Delbruck, Maturana, & Stuart Kauffman, among others. Is it possible to create synthetic life in a laboratory, and does the clue to this possibility lie in the (chemical?) nature of a virus? How does speciation happen? The core significance of the cell being a ‘phase separated structure’ with organizational closure. Is the cell the unity of life? How we do ‘not’ really know where biology ends and chemistry begins. Is life a physical state (just as liquid is a state of water)? The definition of life via replication (DNA, tRNA), metabolism (metabolic charts, glucose) and energy transduction. We discuss the role of glucose as a key molecule for all life, and wonder what it is like for glucose (& other bio molecules) to be ‘outside’ life. How does self organization arise in both physical and biological systems, and how (for example) phospholipids (with hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic heads) organize itself in water? How affinities can emerge between two DNA strands. How life is a dialogical state, and neither the physical equilibrium (oxidized state like carbon dioxide) nor the state of chemical death (‘petroleum state’). How virus ‘lives’ on the border of life and non-life. How all living stems can be characterized using unique chemistry, biochemistry, structure, & function. Why life originated from water? What is the role of weak bonds (in, say, the colloidal state of protoplasm)? How does ‘conscious cognition’ arise in living systems, & what are the links with ‘emancipated reflexive motor actions’, microtubules, dance, lizard, play, & consciousness (Mind from Matter). How does a living system talk to itself (why does a child suck its thumb)? How the feeling of ‘free will’ gives an (illusory) advantage. How life has multiple answers, and an inherent capability to change. How life is an expression of abundance. How a bio molecule is not like a sphere. The future with artificial life, cognitive robotics, & ‘languages in nature’ (of animals & languages). Why we can’t wear a full body armour anymore? The SynTalkrs are: Dr. Pushpa M. Bhargava (molecular biology, CCMB, Hyderabad), & Prof. Nagarjuna G. (philosophy of science, HBCSE, Mumbai).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TAOL show.

Dr. Pushpa Mittra Bhargava (molecular biology, biochemistry) is a scientist, writer, thinker, institution builder and an administrator. Founder & Former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, he is currently the Chairman of Council for Social Development (South Regional Centre). Dr. Bhargava is widely regarded as the architect of modern biology and biotechnology in India. He obtained a Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Lucknow University at the age of 21. He has worked in USA, UK, France and Germany, and has travelled in over 50 countries. He has over 125 major scientific publications to his credit, and is also an adviser & Board member of several well known pharmaceutical companies. Most of his research career has been carried out in Hyderabad where he established CCMB in 1977, one of the world’s premier institutes in the area of biology. Apart from scientific work, CCMB is known for its efficient & innovative management, and its value system. Dr. Bhargava has been the recipient of over 100 national & international awards and honors including Legion d’Honneur (France’s highest honour) from the President of France and Padma Bhushan from the President of India.

Prof. Nagarjuna G. (philosophy, computer science, free society) holds a faculty position at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR in Mumbai. He is an author and maintainer of the GNU project GNOWSYS, and leads the gnowledge.org lab in Mumbai. He works at the interface of ontology, epistemology, science education and politics associated with new media. In ontology he is interested in ontological basis of life, cognition and consciousness; in epistemology he works in discovery and learning; knowledge cartography and semantic web (distributed computing platforms); in science education he designs collaborative learning environments (as against classrooms) for the construction of scientific knowledge; in politics he is an advocate of the freedom to read, write and act (particularly in the digital space), software freedom, creative commons, sharing, collaboration and distributed justice. He holds M.Sc.(Biology), M.A. (Philosophy) from University of Delhi and Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in the area of Philosophy of Science. He is an advocate of free software and open standards for education, eGovernance and conducts workshops for academia and industry. He is also the Chairperson of Free Software Foundation of India. [Note: Also a SynTalkr on #TROAR (The Recipe Of A Renaissance)]

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

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