Research at the Intersection of the Physical and Life Sciences

ebook

By National Research Council

cover image of Research at the Intersection of the Physical and Life Sciences

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Traditionally, the natural sciences have been divided into two branches: the biological sciences and the physical sciences. Today, an increasing number of scientists are addressing problems lying at the intersection of the two. These problems are most often biological in nature, but examining them through the lens of the physical sciences can yield exciting results and opportunities. For example, one area producing effective cross-discipline research opportunities centers on the dynamics of systems. Equilibrium, multistability, and stochastic behavior—concepts familiar to physicists and chemists—are now being used to tackle issues associated with living systems such as adaptation, feedback, and emergent behavior.

Research at the Intersection of the Physical and Life Sciences discusses how some of the most important scientific and societal challenges can be addressed, at least in part, by collaborative research that lies at the intersection of traditional disciplines, including biology, chemistry, and physics. This book describes how some of the mysteries of the biological world are being addressed using tools and techniques developed in the physical sciences, and identifies five areas of potentially transformative research. Work in these areas would have significant impact in both research and society at large by expanding our understanding of the physical world and by revealing new opportunities for advancing public health, technology, and stewardship of the environment.

This book recommends several ways to accelerate such cross-discipline research. Many of these recommendations are directed toward those administering the faculties and resources of our great research institutions—and the stewards of our research funders, making this book an excellent resource for academic and research institutions, scientists, universities, and federal and private funding agencies.

Research at the Intersection of the Physical and Life Sciences