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I have been interested in the relationship between Mathematics and Biology for a while. I recently read Richard Feynman's "The character of physical law", which features a segment about this relationship:

"In biology, for example, the action of a virus on a bacterium is unmathematical. If you watch it under a microscope, a jiggling little virus finds some spot on the odd shaped bacterium - they are all different shapes - and maybe it pushes its DNA in and maybe it does not. Yet if we do the experiment with millions and millions of bacteria and viruses, then we can learn a great deal about the viruses by taking averages. We can use mathematics in the averaging, to see whether the viruses develop in the bacteria, what new strands and what percentage; and so we can study the genetics, the mutations and so forth."

I have some questions about this; any input is much appreciated!

1. Feynman says that the action of one virus is not mathematical. Is this to say that the behavior of the individual virus is chaotic, or could it be understood by other, non-mathematical principles?

2. Feynman says that mathematics is important in understanding genetics and mutations. Would it be correct to say that these fields have been reduced to information sciences best described by computers crunching numbers (I guess Ray Kurzweil would hold that view) or are they too complex to be described by computational models?

Thank you!

Peace

Andy.

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# The relationship between mathematics and biology

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