ll the brain cells of life on Earth still cannot explain life on Earth. Its most intelligent species has uncovered the building blocks of matter, read countless genomes and watched spacetime quiver as black holes collide. It understands much of how living creatures work, but not how they came to be. There is no agreement, even, on what life is.
The conundrum of life is so fundamental that to solve it would rank among the most important achievements of the human mind. But for all scientists’ efforts—and there have been plenty—the big questions remain. If biology is defined as the study of life, on this it has failed to deliver.
But enlightenment may come from another direction. Rather than biology, some scientists are now looking to physics for answers, in particular the physics of information. Buried in the rules that shape information lie the secrets of life and perhaps even the reason for our existence.