Special Issue "From Nanomachine to Nanobrain, Information Processing at a Molecular Scale"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.
Interests: Structural biology, network
Nanomachines are the culmination of a conception of Life that took its roots in the second half of the 20th century, with the appearance of molecular biology. While this metaphor highlights the extraordinary properties of biological macromolecules, it is in line with the dominant ideology of the 21st century, which considers life (and human) according to its model of economic production. From slot to learning machines, the semantic field of machines irrevocably brings us back to an anthropomorphic concept of manufactured objects whose functions are to efficiently accomplish a repetitive task. However, can living beings from their smallest to their highest level of organization be compared to machines? Can this metaphor bias our understanding of biology, mislead us on the notion of function, and divert our attention from the essential properties of molecules that do not fit into the concept of the machine?
Unlike living beings, machines have severe limitations, which were masterfully illustrated in Charlie Chaplin's film "Modern Times". Everyone remembers the highly comical effect that a feeding machine can produce without feedback. Much less funny is to observe the ecological disasters caused by machines and their great designers. Like Chaplin, metazoans understood early on that they needed sensorimotor circuits to synchronize and adapt their motions to their fluctuating environment. What about LUCA and the subsequent unicellular life forms? Many unicellular organisms such as Amoeba, Paramecium, and Physarum polycephalum exhibit indeed complex behaviors although they do not possess nervous circuits. Recent studies have also shown that organelles such as ribosomes possess complex r-protein networks that probably play a role equivalent to that of nervous circuits, at a molecular scale. Has life developed molecular circuits that perform the roles of nervous systems in single cells or even organelles? Although artificial intelligence is very much in vogue today, focusing on “natural intelligence” and its earlier forms can be promising in many areas, from antibiotic resistance to nanotechnology. Thus, this Special Issue proposes to explore the properties of molecular networks involved in information processing.
Dr. Youri Timsit
Manuscript Submission Information
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