Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1944.
This work about the physical basis of natural phenomena influenced the young James D. Watson and others. The book was a popularization of ideas developed by Max Delbrück in his paper with Timofeeff-Ressovsky in 1935. See No. 254.1.
Sydney Brenner pointed out a fundamental mistake in Schrödinger’s understanding of how genes would operate:
“Anyway, the key point is that Schrödinger says that the chromosomes contain the information to specify the future organism and the means to execute it. I have come to call this ‘Schrödinger’s fundamental error.’ In describing the structure of the chromosome fibre as a code script he states that. ‘The chromosome structures are at the same time instrumental in bringing about the development they foreshadow. They are code law and executive power, or to use another simile, they are the architect’s plan and the builder’s craft in one.’ [Schrödinger, p. 20,]. What Schrödinger is saying here is that the chromosomes not only contain a description of the future organism, but also the means to implement the description, or program, as we might call it. And that is wrong! The chromosomes contain the information to specify the future organism and a description of the means to implement this, but not the means themselves. This logical difference was made crystal clear to me when I read the von Neumann article [Hixon Symposium] because he very clearly distinguishes between the things that read the program and the program itself. In other words, the program has to build the machinery to excute itself" (Brenner, My Life, 33-34).
Subjects: BIOLOGY, BIOLOGY › MOLECULAR BIOLOGY