Pierre Lecomte du Noüy

French biophysicist and philosopher (1883-1947)

Pierre Lecomte du Noüy (20 December 1883, Paris – 22 September 1947, New York City) was a French biophysicist and philosopher.

Quotes edit

  • Let us admit that no matter how small the chance it could happen, one molecule could be created by such astronomical odds of chance. However, one molecule is of no use. Hundreds of millions of identical ones are necessary. Thus we either admit the miracle or doubt the absolute truth of science.
    • Human Destiny, 1947, p. 33
      • Commenting on Charles-Eugene Guye's calculation that the odds against the random formation of a particular protein molecule would be about 1 in 10 to the 243rd.

About edit

  • One example of these kinds of statistics comes from Evolution: Possible or Impossible by James F. Coppedge [who] cites an article by Ulric Jelinek … which claims that the odds are 1 in 10^243 against "two thousand atoms" (the size of one particular protein molecule) ending up in precisely that particular order "by accident." Where did Jelenik get that figure? From Pierre Lecompte du Nouy... who in turn got it from Charles-Eugene Guye, a physicist who died in 1942. Guye had merely calculated the odds of these atoms lining up by accident if "a volume" of atoms the size of the Earth were "shaken at the speed of light," failing to factor in laws of chemistry, which create preferences for the formation and behavior of molecules, and ignoring that there are millions if not billions of different possible proteins. This calculation comes to Coppedge third-hand, and is now outdated (it was calculated before 1942, even before the discovery of DNA).

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