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Early childhood recollections about music


Life is a game of chance and necessity
Manfred Eigen Scientist
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It's a game... it's a game of chance and necessity, as Jacques Monod correctly phrased it. Jacques thought a little bit more highly about the chance, we perhaps might lean a little bit more on necessity. But it's certainly a interplay of chance and necessity. And what can we take out of it, what is our role in the game? We are observers of the game, and we are participants, and we have to contribute our part. We cannot contribute any more to evolution, it's much too slow on the level of a genome which comprises three billion nucleotides. But everything what happens now doesn't happen on the level of genes. It happens on the level of our brains, and here we are right at the beginning. We are thinking of individuals as humans but we don't yet think as the humankind, and we are in the very early stages of our evolution. As I say, it's completely on the level of mind and brain, and we are not very far proceeded. Look, the people shoot on each other and kill each other as they have done ten thousand years ago, and... or a thousand years or two thousand years ago. What did they learn by that? And, it's really time that we bring the evolution on to this level, and the goal of evolution is not man as such, it is mankind.

Nobel Prize winning German biophysical chemist, Manfred Eigen (1927-2019), was best known for his work on fast chemical reactions and his development of ways to accurately measure these reactions down to the nearest billionth of a second. He published over 100 papers with topics ranging from hydrogen bridges of nucleic acids to the storage of information in the central nervous system.

Listeners: Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitch

Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch is the eldest daughter of the Austrian physicist Klaus Osatitsch, an internationally renowned expert in gas dynamics, and his wife Hedwig Oswatitsch-Klabinus. She was born in the German university town of Göttingen where her father worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Aerodynamics under Ludwig Prandtl. After World War II she was educated in Stockholm, Sweden, where her father was then a research scientist and lecturer at the Royal Institute of Technology.

In 1961 Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch enrolled in Chemistry at the Technical University of Vienna where she received her PhD in 1969 with a dissertation on "Fast complex reactions of alkali ions with biological membrane carriers". The experimental work for her thesis was carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen under Manfred Eigen.

From 1971 to the present Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch has been working as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen in the Department of Chemical Kinetics which is headed by Manfred Eigen. Her interest was first focused on an application of relaxation techniques to the study of fast biological reactions. Thereafter, she engaged in theoretical studies on molecular evolution and developed game models for representing the underlying chemical proceses. Together with Manfred Eigen she wrote the widely noted book, "Laws of the Game" (Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1981 and Princeton University Press, 1993). Her more recent studies were concerned with comparative sequence analysis of nucleic acids in order to find out the age of the genetic code and the time course of the early evolution of life. For the last decade she has been successfully establishing industrial applications in the field of evolutionary biotechnology.

Tags: evolution, mankind, Jacques Lucien Monod

Duration: 1 minute, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010