The physics of life: one molecule at a time

Theme Issue
‘Single molecule cellular biophysics:
combining physics, biochemistry and cell biology to study the individual molecules of life’
compiled and edited by Mark C. Leake


  • Read straight via the source

Introduction Article : 

The physics of life: one molecule at a time


The esteemed physicist Erwin Schrödinger, whose name is associated with the most notorious equation of quantum mechanics, also wrote a brief essay entitled ‘What is Life?’, asking: ‘How can the events in space and time which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?’ The 60+ years following this seminal work have seen enormous developments in our understanding of biology on the molecular scale, with physics playing a key role in solving many central problems through the development and application of new physical science techniques, biophysical analysis and rigorous intellectual insight. The early days of single-molecule biophysics research was centred around molecular motors and biopolymers, largely divorced from a real physiological context. The new generation of single-molecule bioscience investigations has much greater scope, involving robust methods for understanding molecular-level details of the most fundamental biological processes in far more realistic, and technically challenging, physiological contexts, emerging into a new field of ‘single-molecule cellular biophysics’. Here, I outline how this new field has evolved, discuss the key active areas of current research and speculate on where this may all lead in the near future.

Featured image :


collected from
Leake, M. (2012).
The physics of life: one molecule at a time
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368 (1611), 20120248-20120248 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0248





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s