Music is the key to understanding life

How musical metaphors explain biology

Science and art can look like conceptually separate worlds. But music can teach us a lot about our scientific blind spots and offer new ways of framing complex problems. Biologist Denis Noble and Computer Scientist turned evolutionary theorist Richard Watson set out a musical vision of life, and why it offers a powerful and detailed metaphor for the life sciences.


Since Pythagoras’ music of the celestial spheres, music has been a particularly strong bridge between science and art because of its mathematical underpinnings, its geometric aesthetics and its visceral ability to reach our emotions. Indeed, music was held in affinity with cosmic beauty and meaning long before the ancient Greeks.

Much like Johannes Kepler and Michio Kaku, Denis Noble’s approach to biology has freely employed musical metaphors as a framework with which to approach the world. In The Music of Life (2006) and Dance to the Tune of Life (2016), he has

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