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Renormalisation and stochastic theory


The space of mutants
Manfred Eigen Scientist
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In the space of mutants, if I say space of mutants I mean the total amount of mutants, these 1060 possible if you talk of a length of hundreds, the 1060 different mutants are the space of mutants... among them there is not only one optimal molecule, there are many. And they are distributed in the space so that you don't have to go very far in order to reach the nearest optimal one which is nearest to you. If you do it on a different position you reach again an optimal one, almost, or as good as, or a little better, but it's an entirely different one. In other words the space is like... you see it already on the two dimensions on earth, there are not only high mountains in the Alps, there are even higher mountains or much higher mountains... Himalayas. And there are high mountains, the Andes, they also get into the 6000 metre range, and this is on entirely different points on the surface of earth. There is not only one biggest, one highest mountain; you are almost everywhere not too far from one of the most... and this is much more the case in high dimensional landscapes.

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: Alps, Himalayas, Andes, high dimensional landscapes

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008