How do biology processes differ from those of physics? What different mathematical descriptions are needed in these two case?
University of Cape Town, South Africa
The key link between physics and life is provided by bio-molecules, such as voltage gated ion channels. Through their structure they enable logic to emerge from the underlying physical laws, and for example underlie information processing in the brain via action potential spike trains governed by the Hodgkin-Huxley equations. They can exist because of the nature of possibility spaces for protein structures shaped by the underlying physics (as described by Andreas Wagner in his book Arrival of the Fittest), but can only have come into being via the contextually dependent processes of natural selection, which selects them for their biological function.
Ellis is one of the world's leading cosmologists. He is the co-author with Stephen Hawking of the book "The large scale structure of space-time". An active Quaker, he was a vocal opponent of apartheid and during that period he focused on more philosophical aspects of cosmology, for which he won the Templeton Prize and was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa by Nelson Mandela. He is a past president of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, and of the International Society for Science and Religion. He is a Fellow of the British Royal Society. A philosophical Platonist, he is now concentrating on the emergence of complexity and top-down causation in the hierarchy of complexity.