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New book on physics principles by Wayne State professor explains life as we know it

November 4, 2012


A new book that delves into the unexpected properties of life at the nanoscale was released this week by Basic Books. "Life's Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos," by Peter M. Hoffmann, professor of physics and materials science and associate dean in Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, uses the principles of physics - the science of levers and pulleys, atoms and quarks - to explain life. Hoffmann explores at the nanoscale how the cells in the human body come to life. At this scale, the energy of the random motions of atoms can move molecules, initiate chemical reactions or create voltages, allowing for the existence of independently moving nanoscale machines. According to Hoffmann, the complex molecules of human cells can be called "molecular machines," or "nanobots."