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STIAS Lecture Series: Prof Marcello Barbieri – Code Biology: A New Science of Life

STIAS Public Lectures Series

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Prof. Marcello Barbieri of the Deparment of Morphology and Embryology of the University of Ferrara in Italy will present the seventh lecture of the 2012 STIAS Lecture Series. His lecture is entitled

Code Biology – A New Science of Life

The genetic code appeared on Earth at the origin of life, and the codes of culture arrived almost 4 billion years later, at the end of life’s history. According to official (textbook) science, these are the only codes that exist in Nature, and if this were true we would have to conclude that codes are extraordinary exceptions that appeared only at the beginning and at the end of evolution. In reality, various other organic codes (codes between organic molecules) have been discovered in the last 25 years, and it seems likely that many more will come to light in the future. The existence of many organic codes in Nature, however, is not only a new experimental fact. It is one of those facts that have extraordinary theoretical implications.

The first is that all great events of macroevolution were associated with the appearance of new organic codes, and this gives us a completely new description of the history of life.

The second great implication is about the mechanisms of evolution. The discovery that there are two fundamental molecular mechanisms at the basis of life, copying and coding, means that there are two distinct mechanisms of evolutionary change: evolution by natural selection, based on copying, and evolution by natural conventions, based on coding.

The experimental discoveries and the theoretical implications of the organic codes have given origin to the new field of Code Biology, the study of all codes of life, from the genetic code to the codes of culture.

This is truly a new science, a new dimension of life, the real new frontier of biology.

Date and time

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

13:00 – 14:00​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


No location.

Related to this event



Biochemists traditionally accept the view that life is an extremely complex form of chemistry (the “Chemical paradigm”), a view which implies that genetic information and the genetic code are but metaphorical...


Journal Article

Barbieri, Marcello. 2015. Evolution of the Genetic Code: The Ribosome-Oriented Model. Biological Theory 10 (4): 301–10. doi:10.1007/s13752-015-0225-z.

Book/Book Chapter

Barbieri, Marcello. 2015. Code Biology. Dordrecht: Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-14535-8.

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