Kochi

Need diversity for long-term survival: Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt

Nobel laureate Michael Levitt. File

Nobel laureate Michael Levitt. File  

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Michael Levitt delivers lecture at Cusat

“Each individual life is a matter of pure chance. We do not choose who we are,” Michael Levitt, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, has said.

“Life is not fair. All measures have a distribution. Some individuals are lucky, others are not. There is no natural law of equality,” he said at a lecture held at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) here on Friday.

Mr. Levitt, who won the prestigious honour for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems in 2013, said that “the time-dependent equations governing life are not deterministic – just like three billiard balls or water molecules, they are chaotic.”

Stating that we have to learn from biology, Mr. Levitt said “the important [aspect] is we did not create. We did not create flower. We did not create people. With time Eukaryotes [an organism consisting of a cell or cells in which the genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within a distinct nucleus] have become more complicated and therefore more diverse.”

“This way they have more different behaviours rather like a smart investor that diversifies his investments. Because the future is unpredictable, the most diverse species have more chance to survive.

“Evolution of Eukaryotes is not survival of the fittest. It is survival of the most diverse,” he said.

Mr. Levitt said society was better when there were lives of decency for everyone.

“We cannot make people identical as we need diversity for long-term survival. We cannot prevent bad things happening to some individuals,” he said.

Mr. Levitt, who had faced the ire of protesters while holidaying with his wife on the Alappuzha backwaters on January 8, praised Kerala for its scenic beauty. “The world needs more places like Kerala,” he said.

Mr. Levitt also inaugurated the Prof N.R. Madhava Menon Inter-disciplinary Centre for Research Ethics and Protocols under the School of Legal Studies on the occasion. Vice-Chancellor K.N. Madhusoodanan and Pro Vice-Chancellor P.G. Sankaran were among those who spoke on the occasion.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:09:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/need-diversity-for-long-term-survival/article30538625.ece

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