Physics came first and then came chemistry and later biology

I generally take it that there are only 3 basic sciences, physics, chemistry and biology. I take logic to be the philosophical framework and the background for the observation of the universe. Mathematics is then not a science but a language by which the observations of the universe can be addressed. All other sciences are combinations or derivatives of the three basic sciences. Geology, astronomy, cosmology, psychology, sociology, archaeology, and all the rest derive from the basic three.

I was listening to a report today about some Japanese researchers  who generated protein building blocks by recreating impacts by comets containing water, amino acids and silicate. Some of the amino acids linked together to form peptides (chained molecules). Recurring lengths of peptide chains form proteins and that leads to life. What interested me though was the element of time.

Clearly “chemistry” had to exist before “biology” came into existence. Chemistry therefore not only comes first and “higher” in the hierarchy of the existence of things but is also a necessary, but insufficient, requirement for “biology” to exist. Chemistry plus some “spark” led to biology. In that case the basic sciences are reduced to two since biology derives from chemistry. I cannot conceive of biology preceding chemistry. The elements and atoms and molecules of chemistry had to exist before the “spark” of something brough biology into existence.

chemical reactions (chemistry) + “spark of life”(physics?) = biology

By the same token, does physics precede chemistry? I think it must. Without the universe existing (physics) and all the elements existing within it (which is also physics) and without all the forces acting upon the elements (still physics), there would be no chemistry to exist. Or perhaps the Big Bang was physics and the creation of the elements itself was chemistry? But considering that nuclear reactions (fusion or fission) and the creation of new elements are usually considered physics, it would seem that the existence of physics preceded the existence of chemistry. The mere existence of elements would be insufficient to set in motion reactions between the elements. Some other forces are necessary for that (though some of these forces are even necessary for the existence of the elements). Perhaps physics gives the fundamental particles (whatever they are) and then chemistry begins with the formation of elements? Whether chemistry starts with elements or with the fundamental particles, physics not only must rank higher as a science, it must have come first. Particles must first exist before they can react with each other.

Particles (physics) + forces (physics) = chemistry.

In any event, and by whatever route I follow, physics preceded chemistry, and physics must exist first for chemistry to come into being. That makes chemistry a derivative of physics as biology is a derivative of chemistry.

We are left with just one fundamental science – physics.

by elfbrazil wikipedia


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5 Responses to “Physics came first and then came chemistry and later biology”

  1. pauladkin Says:

    But physics, chemistry and biology are all constructs of reason. Which would mean that the fundamental skill for all sciences is philosophy.

    • ktwop Says:

      Of course, but the element of time is what fascinates.
      My point is that physics was there to study (using a philosophical framework) before chemistry and chemistry could be studied before biology.
      Particles must exist before they can react with each other. Chemical reactions must come first before “life” forms. So what we call physics must have existed before what we call chemistry came to be. And what we call biology needed that lifeless chemical reactions were already happening.
      I suppose what I am trying to say is there must have been a time – possibly a long time – when biology had not come into existence. And there must have been a time – perhaps exceedingly short and soon after the Big Bang – when chemistry had not come into existence. But physics came with the Bang.

      • pauladkin Says:

        Yes, but still … physics didn’t really come about until human beings were able to express it. 🙂 The seeds of the Big Bang were in Thales statement that “all is water”. 🙂

  2. ktwop Says:

    Interesting train of thought.
    Suppose I was God and was about to create the Universe, or (if that is too blasphemous) that i had set up the code which instigated the Big Bang.
    Then all I needed to do was to establish the 4 fundamental forces and the fundamental particles (whatever they are/were and excluding the Higgs boson which only exists in CERN fantasies). That (the forces and the particles) would be the stuff of the “water” of Thales and effectively I would have just established “physics”.
    Chemistry would follow automatically from the physics with no further Divine action from Me being necessary. In due course and after sufficient cometary collisions, the chemistry would be transformed into biology without recourse to any further input other than the existing physics.
    We are back to just one science (whatever name we call it) from which every other science flows. Maybe that is just a consequence of choosing a philosophical framework which is logical and rational.
    Perhaps there is some other philosophical framework in which our science would just be an illusion.

  3. Peter Whale Says:

    The observer is the key to the science hierarchy for it is his prevailing mindset that says yea or nay.

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