Contraction of Time and Protoplasm

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IN recent discussions concerning the clock paradox, biological time is mentioned but dismissed as of little consequence in the matter1. Contrary to this view and regardless of the solution finally found acceptable in the clock paradox, the entire problem really centres in biological time. Whether we accept or reject a completely mechanistic view of protoplasmic processes and therein compare them to an actual clock in the sense of their mechanical workings, or believe in other processes, in addition to the mechanistic view, the statement that biological time is the centre of the matter still holds. No one has ever shown that biological processes are identical in their functional attributes to the mechanical universe envisaged by the physicists. If biological time is not identical to the physicists' time then asymmetrical ageing is meaningless, so far as biological phenomena are concerned. One of the most outstanding physicists, upon analysing the meaning of life, gives an opposite view. Schrödinger2 states: “from all that we have learnt about the structure of living matter we must be prepared to find it working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics”. I take it from this statement, and my own experience of more than twenty-five years of working with living materials, that the laws which control protoplasm are of a different order of integration from those of ordinary physics. This is not surprising in view of its functional complexity.

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NETTLESHIP, A. Contraction of Time and Protoplasm. Nature 181, 562 (1958) doi:10.1038/181562a0

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