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Learning from life

A deeper look at living things

Biological systems of the present time emerged from millenary, branched evolutionary processes. Starting from a common ancestor, during aeons, a rich diversity of forms and functions emerged across different species and even within the same organism, following successful adaptation to ever-changing environments.

Observing biology at the current moment is like looking at a static frame from a movie: evolutionary processes keep exploring new shapes and functionalities even right now. Yet, it is possible to recognize some features that are recurrent, across geography, time and different branches of the tree of life. A way to interpret this is to think those features represent an optimal solution for adaptive challenges which are shared by most species: they are widespread because they are smart solutions for common problems. There exist shared features among all living organisms, which in reason of their diffusion across life forms partially define life itself. On the other hand, sometimes evolutionary processes generate features which are very peculiar and pertain only to a few species.

This cycle of articles aims at introducing some features of biological systems - recurrent or unique - providing practical examples of how the species involved benefit from them.

The primary aim of the cycle is to provide a piece of interesting knowledge for the readers. Secondly, it aims to support the understanding of transversal or unique biological functionings. You can translate this knowledge, if you like, into starting points for reflection and imagination.

Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

In 1937, Albert Einstein said to his son: “Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. To look deep into nature, it is good to acquire a solid understanding of natural sciences, in this case, of biology. At the same time, the answers nature gives strongly depend on the question, and the interpretation strongly depends on the person asking the question. For this reason, the posts aim at providing some understanding of the biological processes of interest, and at stimulating individuals to asks their own questions, rather than providing answers of any kind. The readers are invited to share their own questions and perspectives around the topics to be covered.

Each one of the coming articles is intended as a starting point for a conversation around the beauty of nature.

Roberta Bardini is a researcher in computational Biology and systems. She currently works at the Sysbio Group, Polytechnic of Turin, where she obtained her PhD. She deals with the development of multicellular organisms, and their enhancement in the business environment.

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