Next Article in Journal
Cultivar-Specific Performance and Qualitative Descriptors for Butterhead Salanova Lettuce Produced in Closed Soilless Cultivation as a Candidate Salad Crop for Human Life Support in Space
Next Article in Special Issue
Modelling Bacteria-Inspired Dynamics with Networks of Interacting Chemicals
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Synthetic Approaches for Nucleic Acid Delivery: Choosing the Right Carriers
Open AccessEssay

The Essence of Systems Chemistry

Institut de Chimie et Biochimie Moléculaires et Supramoléculaires (Unité Mixte de Recherche 5246), Université de Lyon, Claude Bernard Lyon 1, 43 bvd du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne CEDEX, France
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 6 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling Life-Like Behavior in Systems Chemistry)
  |  
PDF [7349 KB, uploaded 19 July 2019]
  |  

Abstract

Systems Chemistry investigates the upkeep of specific interactions of an exceptionally broad choice of objects over longer periods of time than the average time of existence of the objects themselves. This maintenance of a dynamic state focuses on conditions where the objects are thermodynamically not very stable and should be rare or virtually inexistent. It does not matter whether they are homochirally enriched populations of chiral molecules, a specific composition of some sort of aggregate, supramolecules, or even a set of chemically relatively unstable molecules that constantly transform one into another. What does matter is that these specific interactions prevail in complex mixtures and eventually grow in numbers and frequency through the enhancing action of autocatalysis, which makes such systems ultimately resemble living cells and interacting living populations. Such chemical systems need to be correctly understood, but also intuitively described. They may be so complex that metaphors become practically more important, as a means of communication, than the precise and correct technical description of chemical models and complex molecular or supramolecular relations. This puts systems chemists on a tightrope walk of science communication, between the complex reality and an imaginative model world. This essay addresses, both, scientists who would like to read “A Brief History of Systems Chemistry”, that is, about its “essence”, and systems chemists who work with and communicate complex life-like chemical systems. I illustrate for the external reader a light mantra, that I call “to make more of it”, and I charily draw systems chemists to reflect upon the fact that chemists are not always good at drawing a clear line between a model and “the reality”: The real thing. We are in a constant danger of taking metaphors for real. Yet in real life, we do know very well that we cannot smoke with Magritte’s pipe, don’t we? View Full-Text
Keywords: human intervention; origin of life; metaphors; science communication human intervention; origin of life; metaphors; science communication
Figures

Graphical abstract

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Strazewski, P. The Essence of Systems Chemistry. Life 2019, 9, 60.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Life EISSN 2075-1729 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top