I am excited to learn that Sir Paul Nurse has an upcoming book attempting to discuss this perennial question. The title is of course an homage to Schrödinger’s earlier treatise with the same title. I read that quite a while ago, and what was quite amazing was that it was written before the structure of DNA was known. I recall that I had attended a doctoral course with the same title as well. And the content was as broad as it suggests: the course coordinator invited outside speakers for talks, and often the talks were beyond mere biology, so it was a very interesting, thought-expanding, course.
The subtitle “Understanding biology in five steps” gives the central thesis: cells, genes, evolution, life as chemistry, life as information system. Information system is of course a very curious metaphor. Schrödinger was in the era of early computing – how does our understanding of life now look like when examined in parallel to modern computing?
Nurse has a 1-hour talk, which I watched with interest, so I am looking forward to read the book.