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Can The Human Body Be Expressed Mathematically?

  1. Jun 4, 2014 #1
    I have a question: can the human body be expressed mathematically? If so, how would you even go about starting to map out the algorithmic structure of something that's living (which would include molecular function, cellular function, etc. etc.)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2014 #2
    Know the Hamiltonian for every single atom, and every single interaction possible for atoms which are close enough to interact with each other.
  4. Jun 4, 2014 #3
    Do you think that it would be possible to create algorithmic-based diseases (like polio for example) and place it within an algorithmic-based person to see how they react with one another? Sort of like performing algorithmic-based clinical trials?
  5. Jun 4, 2014 #4
    We don't have the computing power in the world to even attempt.
  6. Jun 4, 2014 #5


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    Start with something smaller - like nematodes. They are the simplest life form with a central nervous system.

    Then see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2276866
    and http://imammb.oxfordjournals.org/content/4/4/279.short

    Use Google Scholar and type "mathematical model of nematode"; there has been lots of work done in this area. You can even earn your PhD by doing more research in this area.
  7. Jun 4, 2014 #6


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    What general field is this type of research categorized in? Applied Math? Mathematical Biology? Theoretical Physics?
  8. Jun 4, 2014 #7


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    Replace "human body" with "sheep", and you have Max Tegmark's view on this:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  9. Jun 4, 2014 #8
    Human body is the one of the complexiest things of the universe. If you can do it, you can create almost everything.
  10. Jun 4, 2014 #9


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    In principle yes it's possible, mathematical modelling in biology is a field that is getting better all the time but the size of the task is daunting. There is so much to model in a human body and for many practical applications you couldn't simplify these very much. Take the example of simulating the effect of a drug in a cell, you're going to have to model every molecule in there as accurately as possible in order to figure out the interactions that drug is going to have and the knock on effects that will create. Considering we can't even model how proteins fold that doesn't seem like something that is on the horizon.
  11. Jun 4, 2014 #10


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    Sheep farmers knew this already :smile:

  12. Jun 4, 2014 #11


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    But you probably won't get a Nobel Prize, since that has been awarded already for figuring out how nematodes develop. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2002/press.html

    Incidentally, that shows you don't need lots of high-tech lab equipment to win a Nobel prize. Sulston figured out most of what was going on by looking at live nematode embryos through an optical microscope.
  13. Jun 4, 2014 #12
    My body's formula is this:

    (n-1)/0 , where n is only 1.
  14. Jun 4, 2014 #13
    Okay, so it seems that this much more complex than I originally thought :P

    Last night for fun I tried messing around with the idea on paper by writing a few simple formulas for being alive, etc.

    What are some super-fundamental ideas that someone could use to even get started on something like this? I'm not new to molecular biology or biochemistry, but writing out formulas or algorithms to express certain things is very confusing.

    For example, how I could I write a super-simplified version of "flowing blood" (even if it's only say, 10 cells)?

    Body = 10 Cells x Rate of Movement Over a Give Space???????
  15. Jun 4, 2014 #14


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    You might find it useful to read about simulating rigid body physics for games.

    Rigid bodies are way WAY simpler than a real human body, or a single cell, or even a single protein... but knowing how to simulate rigid bodies will give you a lot of the background ideas that you need.
  16. Jun 4, 2014 #15
    But fun, eh? :smile:

    I think this task is very, very difficult :smile:. And since it requires biology/chemistry, I personally wouldn't even know where to start. To get a feel for the scale involved, you could try calculating an estimation of how many atoms there are in a human body. Or google for it.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  17. Jun 4, 2014 #16
    Thanks for the link. I'll check it out!
  18. Jun 4, 2014 #17
    It would make sense to start off with the smallest building blocks of the human body I guess- and then work your way up? I'll give it a wishful try :)
  19. Jun 4, 2014 #18


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    You first have to understand how they work, before building a model of them. We still have MANY undiscovered mysteries about life.
  20. Jun 4, 2014 #19
    As I said, I wouldn't even know where to start, if I ever would try playing around with trying to model such a thing. But nevertheless I would start by checking up some basic facts like

    • how many atoms are there in a human body
    • how many types of atoms
    • how many molecules
    • how many types of molecules
    • how many cells
    • how many types of cells
    • etc.
    • + other things I didn't know anything about, but learnt about when I was checking things up

    Why I suggested counting atoms was because it would give you a feel about the scale of such a very ambitious (to say the least) project. So if you find a number of estimated atoms in a human body, post it here, and I will then tell you something else, which I guess you don't have even considered yet :smile:.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  21. Jun 4, 2014 #20


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    The human body is unpredictable in how it reacts to things.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
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