The Revolutionary Impact of Landscapes in Biology

Darwin in his epochal Origin of the Species famously referred to life as a "tangled bank“ of great complexity, unified by the process of natural selection. Physicists too have always sought simplifying ideas of great power capable of making complex phenomena comprehensible and quantitative. A unifying idea in physics that ties together many complex phenomena in biology is the concept of a landscape, broadly defined. This idea not only encompasses the idea of the free energy landscape of a folding protein, but extends out to concepts in neurobiology, immunology, evolution, ecology and the emergence of (and resistance to) disease. We have not found in the literature a coherent collection of articles which use the central idea of landscapes defined in this most broad sense. We propose a collection of articles bringing together work at the cutting edge of biological physics that illustrates how the concept of dynamics on landscapes provides a unifying framework for some of the most urgent problems in current interdisciplinary science.


Articles (13 in this collection)