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Saturday, March 18, 2000

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Nature Science Update Too Darn Hot
"...two US physicists claim to have figured out how it is that complex systems, from computer networks to rainforests, can be robust in the face of anticipated disturbances, yet too fragile to cope with unexpected events. They call this state 'highly optimized tolerance' (HOT). A HOT system, they say, can cope with all the 'slings and arrows' that it is designed to withstand, but can fail catastrophically if presented with some unforeseen challenge."

"The key consideration, they say, is 'design'; it is this that allows a HOT state to operate under conditions that, were it to be generated at random, would be highly unstable to small perturbations. In nature, 'design' equates with natural selection, which effectively allows the evolutionary process to 'make choices' amongst random mutations.”

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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