Models and Analogues in Biology

By Society for Experimental Biology | Go to book overview

KINETIC MODELS OF DEVELOPMENT AND HEREDITY

By H. KACSER Department of Animal Genetics, Edinburgh


INTRODUCTION

There are many ways of discussing the phenomena which are usually described under the heading of differentiation, development, and growth. Such discussions usually involve the description of classical embryological material which, owing to its suitability as experimental material, has largely dominated work in this field as well as the thoughts and concepts which we have. For the purposes of this symposium, however, I shall be concerned with much more general questions. These may be described very briefly, and therefore very inaccurately, as 'the interpretation of biology in terms of chemistry'.


ANALOGUES AND MODELS

In order that it may be clearly understood what I am attempting, I must begin by discussing the very nature of my approach. This may lead into the fields of semantics and epistemology, but the nature of the symposium is such that this can hardly be avoided. There are a large number of words currently in use which are relevant to discussion of this kind. Some of these are, 'hypothesis', 'theory', 'law', 'explanation', 'computer', 'experimental animal', 'analogue' and 'model'. It is my view that all these terms are synonyms of only two of these. The most appropriate are 'analogue' and 'model'. All other terms are synonyms of either of these two. Analogue and model differ fundamentally from each other. They describe two entirely different phenomena and I shall show a sensible and consistent way in which these two terms should be used. It is certainly the way I shall use these words here.

'An analogue is any device or objects in which entities are related to one another'. This definition includes, of course, all perceptible objects which can be apprehended by man. While it is perfectly true that all such objects can be regarded as analogues, I shall add a qualification which will make the definition more useful. An analogue is clearly an analogue of something. Billiard balls on a table may be an analogue of gas molecules in a vessel, or they may be a source of relaxation for tired University Professors, or they may be the beginning of the ruin of a promising student. It therefore appears that it is the use to which objects are put that marks them out as analogues. I shall therefore qualify the definition of the word analogue by saying that 'an analogue is a device (in which entities are related to one another) which can be used for the purposes of making a model'. We therefore must know what

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Models and Analogues in Biology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Quantum Physics and Biology† 1
  • Models in Genetics 6
  • Kinetic Models of Development And Heredity 13
  • Tissues in Culture and in the Body 28
  • References 40
  • Models of Muscle 41
  • References 66
  • Mechanical Models in Zoology 69
  • Conclusions 82
  • Physical Models in Biology 83
  • Estimation of Values Of Parameters of a Model to Conform With Observations 102
  • Summary 120
  • Applications of Theoretical Models to the Study of Flight- Behaviour in Locusts and Birds 122
  • References 138
  • Electrical Analogues in Biology 140
  • Computers and the Nervous System 152
  • References 168
  • Models in Cybernetics 169
  • References 190
  • Modelling of Large-Scale Nervous Activity 192
  • Conclusions 197
  • Energy Models of Motivation 199
  • Summary 212
  • The Use of Models in the Teaching Of Embryology 214
  • School Biology as An Educational Model 230
  • Conclusion 241
  • The Problem of Communication In Biological Teaching 243
  • Acknowledge Ments 248
  • A Review of the Symposium: Models and Analogues in Biology 250
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