About the Book
Life. There is something strange about this term. Everybody knows what it is, but nobody can really explain what it is. In our everyday lives, the meaning of this term is somehow contained in the context we use it. In science, no theory of life exists. A huge army of teachers and researchers active in all disciplines of life sciences hardly share common ground. Life scientists are bound together by a loose band of a few interesting phenomena observable in nature. This is strange, but does not appear to be troublesome, since teaching and research work well.
The scientific lack of understanding what life actually is, is probably only an academic problem, but an interesting one! And that is where the essay "The Nature of LIFE" starts. Apparently, biologists have accepted this lack of understanding and spend no more effort to fill this gap of knowledge. Possibly, pure biological means are not enough to explain life. Possibly, a new approach from outside can help. Possibly, new insight from a discipline like Informatics can lead to a better understanding of life. And actually, there is something common in biological and computer systems: information-processing.
Learning to interpret all sorts of biological activity as information-processing uncovers a common pattern in all phenomena of life. This common pattern may show a way to a theory of life and allows to draw some interesting implications. Scientists of all biological disciplines may be able to agree. If this is really going to happen, life scientists would have a solid common ground, a better understanding for each other and would possibly collaborate even better than today.
About the Author
Reik Oberrath started studying biology at the University of Tuebingen in 1990. He did his diploma in 1996 after finishing his thesis about the colour change of Pulmonaria flowers and its interplay with insect pollinators. From 1997 until 2000 he did his Ph.D. at the University of Aachen. He specialised in macroecology and studied the interactions of plants and their animal seed dispersers. After his Ph.D., he finished his academic life.
In 2000 he started to work as a software developer. Gaining expertise in the field of software development and Informatics, he applied the broad view of a macroecologist to computer systems and founded with his collaborator a knowledge base called Clean Coding Cosmos.
Having intensely worked on both biological systems and computer systems, he was able to learn the meaning of their similarities: information-processing. This experience inspired and enabled him to write this essay.