Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why biology is harder than physics

Beginning university students in the sciences usually consider biology to be much easier than physics or chemistry. From their experience in high school, physics has math and formulae that must be understood to be applied correctly, but the study of biology relies mainly on memorization. But in reality biology is much more complex than the physical sciences, and understanding it requires more, not less, brain work.

Biological processes of course are consequences of physics and chemistry, which is why we require our biology students to study the physical sciences. But organisms are also historical entities, and that's where the complexities arise. The facts of physics and chemistry are constant across time and space. Any one carbon atom is the same as any other, and today's carbon atoms are the same as those of a billion years ago. But each organism is different. That's not just a statement that fruit flies are different from house flies. Rather, each fruit fly is different from every other fruit fly alive today, and from every other fruit fly that ever lived, and it's the differences that make biology both thrilling and hard.

The differences have several causes and consequences. One cause is that biology depends on past history, because descendants are not identical to their ancestors. This is true at all scales, and the fundamental reason is that the process of genetic inheritance is not perfect. The DNA sequences we inherit from our parents are never identical copies of their DNA - instead they contain copying errors. So every copy is slightly different, even between two siblings. We are all mutants. These differences also accumulate over the generations, like in the party game Americans call "telephone" and the British call "Chinese whispers".

The second cause is natural selection, which shapes the accumulation of differences, favouring those that improve survival and reproduction and making it harder for disadvantageous differences to persist over the generations. And because most natural selection arises from interactions with other evolving organisms rather than with the relatively stable physical environment, the changes are rapid.

The result is that all biological systems are diverse at all levels. Even high school students are used to the idea of 'biodiversity', meaning the dramatic differences between different species of plants and animals. But the diversity is much more ubiquitous. Within each multicellular species, every individual is genetically different; every fruit fly is genetically different from every other fruit fly. The invisible bacteria turn out to be much more diverse than anyone would have thought. Bacteria isolated from natural environments are so different that even the individuals we would have considered the same species turn out to have about 10% of their genes from unrelated sources. In lab cultures, bacterial mutation rates are high enough that a single ml of culture will contain millions of different genotypes.

Even genetically identical cells are not functionally identical. When a cell divides its molecules are randomly distributed between the two daughters; because 'randomly' does not mean 'evenly', these daughters will have inherited different sets of the proteins and RNAs that carry out their functions. And even if the two cells had identical contents, these contents would still have different interactions - repressors bump into cofactors at different times, DNA polymerase slips or doesn't slip at different points in its progress along a chromosome. Understanding the how and why of biological phenomena thus requires us to consider historical and ecological factors that are many orders of magnitude more complex than those of physical systems.

The critical word is probably 'population'. Biologists rarely try to define it, but they use the term everywhere to refer to similar but not identical organisms or cells (or even molecules) that interact in some way. 'Population thinking', the realization that species are populations, not pure types, is said to have been key to Darwin's insight that members of a species undergo natural selection. And population thinking is probably what makes biology so much more complex than the physical sciences.

Of course we can't consider all of the differences all of the time, so at different levels of study we biologists try to pull out the factors that we think will matter most. Molecular and cell biologists work with populations of molecules, but they keep everything else as identical as possible. Developmental biologists study how cells become different, but they use pure-breeding lines and clones to ensure that the genetic properties of their organisms are as identical as possible. Ecologists pay attention to the big differences between species, but under conditions where they can ignore the differences between the individuals of each species.

I don't think population thinking is addressed in high school biology. We can't really blame their teachers, because the issues probably were never made clear to them either. Instead high school teachers pass on the facts they remember from what they themselves learned at university. The result is that their students enter university expecting their biology education to consist mainly of memorizing lots of new facts.

We instructors want our new students to start focusing on understanding complex processes and interactions, between entities that are themselves populations of diverse and somewhat unpredictable entities. We're thus asking them to set aside all the learning strategies that worked well for them in high school biology, and to learn in a new way. To students this probably seems the height of foolishness, and they're understandably reluctant to take the chance. So one big challenge, for instructors and for our students, is to find ways to ease this transition. We need to give students confidence that deep understanding will bring better grades than will rote memorization, and that saying "What I don't understand is..." is not an admission of failure but the essential first step to this understanding.

33 comments:

Fred Ross said...

I've worked in both theoretical and experimental physics, and now I'm doing experimental microbiology, so I think I'm in a position to comment.

First, physics does deal with the world where the details are different everywhere, and over the years we've developed a lot of tools: thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and in pure mathematics the rather astonishing tools of probability theory and random processes. For today's physicist, situations in which there are lots of varying details are normal, not exceptional.

On the other hand, evolution is different. It requires a separate set of mathematical structures (though not particularly different). Most biologists have never heard of, and certainly don't understand, these structures. Most physicists could, but are hesitant to spend the time: should they really spend a lot of time understanding material that most biologists seem ignorant of?

Despite the fad of noise in biological systems recently, the few people who have asked whether it's actually relevant to the function of the system seem to come up with "no." It's just a fact of life that you try to escape.

It's also a pet peeve of mine that biologists insist on calling their organisms "complex," a very specific, technical term which I have never seen justified in biology. They are complicated, but I have seen no evidence that they are complex. There are problems of graph theory that are complex, but the graphs that biologists insist on writing down of protein interaction and genetic networks aren't sufficiently well posed to take any difficult mathematical problem that appears in them seriously.

As for teaching students, I think the crucial difference between biology and physics education is that biology classes try to impart information to the students. Physics classes have as their sole goal the rewiring of students brains in ways that reflect how reality works. When biology classes switch to that model, students will think it's as hard as physics.

Doppelganger said...

Most biologists have never heard of, and certainly don't understand, these structures. Most physicists could, but are hesitant to spend the time: should they really spend a lot of time understanding material that most biologists seem ignorant of?


Most of the physicists I know have never heard of most aspects of the biological sciences. Guess that means that they are insufficiently equipped to deal with physics...?

But yes, after all, you physicists know lots of math, and math usage is the key criterion for declaring something a 'hard science' and thus a 'true science.' At least those that use lots of math and want to think of themselves as being involved in the 'hard sciences' want us to think.


Maybe we would all be better off if physicists and physical chemists just did everything. Then you can apply your oh-so-complex maths to everything and we will all be duly impressed and awed by your superiority.





Funny thing is, when I discuss biology with the physics professors I know, they are as baffled and confused as I am when they discuss their intricate physics problems. At least the humbler ones.

Rosie Redfield said...

Hi Fred,

About 'complex'. This appears to be yet another example of a word that has both a general meaning and one or more specific technical meanings. (Think 'theory'.) Lots of confusion arises when a general-meaning use is misinterpreted as a technical-meaning use.

One point of my post was precisely that good biology teaching does not seek to impart information but to rewire students brains to reflect how living things work and evolve.

qbit said...

So why is biology harder than physics?

SchEqn said...

you said, "The facts of physics and chemistry are constant across time and space. Any one carbon atom is the same as any other, and today's carbon atoms are the same as those of a billion years ago."
I would like to say that the facts of physics are not constant; think about it, why was quantum mechanics invented, why was there Einstein's theory of relativity? These are all results of the facts changing over time. In any science we do not get exact answer, we only get so close to it. What a carbon appear to those in the 1900s will be different to those in the 1930s, the era when quantum mechanics was invented. And their description of carbon changes as well, so what a carbon is to us has changed.

Fallenstar said...

Well....I think what Fred meant is that "you can do physics without knowing biology, but you can't do it the other way around." that claim is actually supported by this article. So, Doppelganger's refuting claim is not against the point.

And as to math usage, honestly you cannot find a more precise language than mathematics. It makes physics a "harder" and a "truer" science NOT because that's what people want you to think, but because physics is the most PRECISE of all three sciences (and I do not include math here, that's another debate)

And...there is no superiority in sciences, only which one is more fundamental. Unfortunately, if you lived without physicists, you wouldn't be using your computer right now.

Fred Ross said...

I'll chime in on this again, since I think there was a misunderstanding. Reading your post's title while pretending that I'm an undergraduate inserts subliminal instances of the word 'class' after 'biology' and 'physics.' The problem is that for readers coming in from the outside world, this looks like a blanket statement.

You can do physics without knowing biology. You can do biology without knowing physics (most biologists do, as my coworkers give me daily proof).

Interacting molecules generally fall under the rubric of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. There is a very particular, probabilistic mindset that goes with this which is extremely important.

Would an intro biology course based on really making students understand how to handle ensembles and populations, and giving them the tools to actually do so (coalescent theory, some basis of statistical mechanics, a bunch of other stuff) be harder than what is taught in intro physics? Yes! It would!

The problem is that you can't do thermodynamics or statistical mechanics until you have completely internalized basic Newtonian mechanics and probability. You can't handle coalescents and Wright-Fisher processes without internalizing the mindset of probability (the physics can slide).

The physicists who do experiments on how to teach people physics discovered that unless you're very careful to root out a student's own world view, what you tell them gets completely misinterpreted. This is even harder for probability.

So an introductory course that tried to get students thinking in ensembles of molecules and populations of organisms would be harder than the standard introductory physics course, for both students and instructors, but that's because it involves mental tools that the physics degree spreads across years of study.

Doppelganger said...

Well....I think what Fred meant is that "you can do physics without knowing biology, but you can't do it the other way around." that claim is actually supported by this article. So, Doppelganger's refuting claim is not against the point.

Um, OK, I don't recall trying to write a 'refuting claim', I think my point was that for some reason, some physicists like Ross seem to suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect. And OF COURSE you can "do" biology without knowing physics. Biology is a pretty broad field, and I doubt many field biologists give one whit about physics.


And as to math usage, honestly you cannot find a more precise language than mathematics. It makes physics a "harder" and a "truer" science NOT because that's what people want you to think, but because physics is the most PRECISE of all three sciences (and I do not include math here, that's another debate)

Please provide some relevant documentation, if you can, that 'precision' is a prerequisite for considering something a 'hard' science.


And...there is no superiority in sciences, only which one is more fundamental. Unfortunately, if you lived without physicists, you wouldn't be using your computer right now.

January 14, 2008 1:29 PM,


Maybe, but I could sure live without arrogant, self-important prigs.

Doppelganger said...

You can do physics without knowing biology. You can do biology without knowing physics (most biologists do, as my coworkers give me daily proof).


And my physicists coworkers show me everyday that they do not understand biology. What is your point?


Interacting molecules generally fall under the rubric of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. There is a very particular, probabilistic mindset that goes with this which is extremely important.


Why would a "mindset" be of any importance to interacting molecules?


Would an intro biology course based on really making students understand how to handle ensembles and populations, and giving them the tools to actually do so (coalescent theory, some basis of statistical mechanics, a bunch of other stuff) be harder than what is taught in intro physics? Yes! It would!

The problem is that you can't do thermodynamics or statistical mechanics until you have completely internalized basic Newtonian mechanics and probability. You can't handle coalescents and Wright-Fisher processes without internalizing the mindset of probability (the physics can slide).


Which, clearly, Fred Ross, Physicist, has done!

AMAZING!


The physicists who do experiments on how to teach people physics discovered that unless you're very careful to root out a student's own world view, what you tell them gets completely misinterpreted. This is even harder for probability.

So an introductory course that tried to get students thinking in ensembles of molecules and populations of organisms would be harder than the standard introductory physics course, for both students and instructors, but that's because it involves mental tools that the physics degree spreads across years of study.


Providing, of course, all biologists will need to know such things in mathematically precise detail. Which they do not. And I suspect not even all physicists would have to. It seems very easy for some people to believe that whatever it is they do is the most important thing. And it is, to them. But it is not to everyone else, and acting as if it should be often rubs people the wrong way.

qbit said...

Doppelganger, get a clue. The descriptor "hard science" actually has nothing to do with "difficulty". It is not a display of physics chauvinism, but rather a division between quantitative/accurate sciences from more nebulous fields that do not carry with them the same mathematical precision.

No need to be jealous just because math chose physics :p

Fred Ross said...

Doppelganger points out a very common misconception, that the detailed, mathematical version --- the careful imparting of a formalism --- is a slower way to build understanding than a verbal description. The opposite is actually true.

Formalism provides a way for students to run "experiments" without getting lost in word games. This is among the best ways to develop intuition, as you can continually correct it. It provides a precise relation among the concepts without baggage and ambiguity, the exorcism of which otherwise requires a great deal of considered prose.

Afterwards, formalism provides a powerful tool. Anyone who doubts this need only look at high school algebra. Similarly facile algebras can be constructed for logical argument, tying knots in strings, and symmetries. Geneticists use an implicit algebra of this kind to think about manipulating DNA sequences.

I suspect most of Doppelganger's hostility comes from the (very real) language barrier between physics and biology. It took me a year and a half in a biology lab before I understood what people were saying to me, another six months before I could translate what I was thinking into words they could understand. For the listener, the problems of another field often seem trivial because all he can appreciate is a projection of the field onto his own. For the speaker, this reception is galling.

This has now degenerated into a flame war, and I'm ducking out. Apologies to Rosie for clogging up her comments section.

Rosie Redfield said...

Au contraire, Rosie feels honoured by all these comments.

qbit said that 'the descriptor "hard science" is a division between quantitative/accurate sciences from more nebulous fields that do not carry with them the same mathematical precision.' (Sorry, there should be an elipsis in there somewhere.)

But although there is less mathematical precision about the elements of 'soft' sciences, they need much more statistical rigor than do fields will less intrinsic variation.

Doppelganger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doppelganger said...

Doppelganger, get a clue. The descriptor "hard science" actually has nothing to do with "difficulty". It is not a display of physics chauvinism, but rather a division between quantitative/accurate sciences from more nebulous fields that do not carry with them the same mathematical precision.

Right - how silly of kmew to have interpreted this:

Most biologists have never heard of, and certainly don't understand, these structures. Most physicists could, but are hesitant to spend the time: should they really spend a lot of time understanding material that most biologists seem ignorant of?


As physics chauvenism... I must just be so sensitive, and yes, thank you, I WILL get a clue thanks to your keen insights.

No need to be jealous just because math chose physics :p
Guess you're not familiar with population genetics...

Doppelganger said...

Doppelganger points out a very common misconception, that the detailed, mathematical version --- the careful imparting of a formalism --- is a slower way to build understanding than a verbal description. The opposite is actually true.

Oh please set me strait Freddie!

Formalism provides a way for students to run "experiments" without getting lost in word games.


Word games - you mean understanding the concepts they are applying your formalism to?


Afterwards, formalism provides a powerful tool. Anyone who doubts this need only look at high school algebra. Similarly facile algebras can be constructed for logical argument, tying knots in strings, and symmetries. Geneticists use an implicit algebra of this kind to think about manipulating DNA sequences.


Of course, one first needs to know what DNA sequences are. I cannot count the number of times I've seen those in the 'hard sciences' prattle on about the 'amino acids in DNA' and the like...

But no, do go on...


I suspect most of Doppelganger's hostility comes from the (very real) language barrier between physics and biology. It took me a year and a half in a biology lab before I understood what people were saying to me, another six months before I could translate what I was thinking into words they could understand. For the listener, the problems of another field often seem trivial because all he can appreciate is a projection of the field onto his own. For the speaker, this reception is galling.


My 'hostility' comes from the all too real and quite common arrogance of those in the 'hard sciences' - or more commonly, engineering - thinking that they have special insights into biology, when in fact, they do not.

Desmond said...

I know this is a very old "thread", but I wanted to share my sentiment on Doppelganger's attitude here. Instead of responding properly with reason, he/she responds condescendingly with baseless ridicule and insults:

"Maybe, but I could sure live without arrogant, self-important prigs."

"Maybe we would all be better off if physicists and physical chemists just did everything. Then you can apply your oh-so-complex maths to everything and we will all be duly impressed and awed by your superiority."

"Which, clearly, Fred Ross, Physicist, has done!

AMAZING!"


Looking back on the comments, it is not Fred Ross who is arrogant - but it is rather you, my good sir. Get off your high horse.

Anon said...

Physics can be applied to biology. Biology cannot be applied to physics.

Anonymous said...

There is no point in comparing between biology and physics. They are two different science.

From wikipedia:

"Physics is the study of matter and its motion through spacetime and all that derives from these, such as energy and force"

"biology is the science that studies living organisms (such as animal, plant, fungus, or micro-organism)"

I myself am a student for mechanical engineer.

Everyone knows that gravitational law explains how earth pulls matter to it's surface.

If earth was a living organisms, which could think, what makes you think that physical law was a good way to describe it's nature?

The real question is whether living organisms can be explained by mathematical equations.

I personally think, NO.

There is no matematical or physic law which can explain a primitive life form such as a animalcule.

The problem is that living organisms change over time, even if someone were able to find a matematical equation to explain a certain living organism, it would probably would be correct for a very short time.

It is hard to measure events which are not consistent with time. I personally think that biology is more restricted due to this fact.

I think that physics is much more harder to learn, but biology is much more harder to research...

Anonymous said...

"You can do physics without knowing biology. You can do biology without knowing physics (most biologists do, as my coworkers give me daily proof)."

Well I'm going to disagree on the above statement and put my money on the opposite.

Physics can explain many, if not all, biological phenomena. No matter how complex a biological entity is, it still follow the fundamental law of physics. Every single atoms in your body follow such laws as they interact with other atoms to form DNA basis, DNA, chromosomes, genes, proteins cells and so on. These interactions with fancy convoluted names combined with minuscule mathematical involvement and rigorous proofs is what is known as biology. In contrast, try to explain quantum entanglement with biology. You might be the next noble prize Laurette if you manage to do so.

To say that biology is harder than physics is analogous to saying driving a car is harder than being an automotive technician. Biology tells you that when you step on the gas pedal, the car will accelerate and you must also know (memorize) that you must step on the brake pedal to decelerate. Physics is what make the car accelerate or decelerate and will tell you the mechanical, electrical and timing to do so. All of this is from the creativity and problem solving skills of the car designer by manipulating physical laws. That's what physics is all about and what make it more challenging. Solving problems with known laws to understand and discover other laws and ideas. In addition, many of this laws and ideas deifies our common sense. Others seem not meant to be comprehend at all. For instance, visualizing higher dimensions, whats going on in a black hole, the abstract and probabilistic behavior of the quantum mechanics, mind bending relativity to name a few.

This is my subjective opinion. I'm not here to favor physics over biology. I love science and I love biology. Both are extremely important and very challenging in their own right. However, to say that biology is harder than physics, I subjectively disagree.

Sorry if my grammar is incompetent. English is not my first language.

spac18 said...

well, actually biology is chemistry in its ultimate complex form. to get a phd in physics, you need be decent at calculas. you can sail through while not understanding physics at all. of course there are a lot of physics graduates who understand physics really well, I have had the pleasure to meet a few of them. but theres a lot of physicists who studied physics as an easier form of math. but to study organic chemistry and biology, you really have to understand the entire concept and the underlying mechanisms. you cant realy depend on an equation to understand things, but you have to know what that equation really means, even if you dont really remember the equation itself. then there are things like differentiation, which has absolutely nothing to do with physics. to sum it up, life is not based on a bunch of equations, but its a complex chemical process which is effected by thousands of internal and external factors. thats why its impossible to describe an organism with an equation. if you want to.know it, you dont have to memorise anything, but you have to understand everything.

Anonymous said...

@spac18
"to get a phd in physics, you need be decent at calculas"

not even close. to get a decent grade in a freshman physics course, you need to be decent at calculus. to get a decent grade in most sophomore level physics courses, you need to be decent in basic ordinary diff eqs, and to be decent in basic ordinary diff eqs, you need to be better than decent in calculus. doing decent in these classes should get you accepted to upper division undergraduate physics courses which are much tougher mathematically. as for a phd, well, the math required is much more difficult. faaaar beyond calculus.

spac18 said...

well, i know physics phds. compaired to mathmaticians, they are only decent in calculas. and differential equations are class xii math, not really higher math.

Cesium133 said...

"Compared to mathematicians, physicists are decent at calculus."

Well, compared to a chair, a table performs worse for the purpose of being sat on. What's your point?

A. Gheldof said...

Hello everybody,

I have studied civil engineering, so I have quite a good background about maths and physics. After I've obtained my master degree I ended up in a molecular biology lab where I started my PhD.

Of course, all my engineering friends (and also myself in the early days) looked down on everything what had something to do with biology. After obtaining my PhD in Molecular biology, my opinion completely has changed. For me it is not really a matter of more complex or not, but it is a completely different way of thinking. Whereas physics/ maths tends to give direct answers or approximations of answers, this is not the case in (molecular) biology.

I agree, biology can be described by laws of physics, but the net effect of all these physical processes that occur even in one cell are so immense that it is (and maybe forever) impossible to calculate cellular behaviour. As a result molecular and cellular biologists are forced to look at the net effect of these billions and billions of physical effects. And that is biology to me. For biologists studying ecosystems this is even more complex.

The problem with cellular biology is that from the moment you alter expression of one protein to study its function, you don't know what other pathways are affected (biologically relevant or not). Moreover, compensational mechanisms might be induced. It is thus very difficult to start up a clean experiment. And in the context wher I was doing my research in, the molecular interactions between two cell types, this tends to be brought to another level, since two different cell systems can interact with one another. So as an engineer, in the beginning of my PhD I though I was going crazy, since nothing in my experiments could be kept constant.
This does not seem to be such a big problem in physics according to my knowledge.

Greetz

spac18 said...

@Cesium133 well, my point is that because physics does not require a high level of math, so the claim that physics is difficult due to the requirement of understanding calculus is falsse.

Anonymous said...

psh, what a joke. You are trying to tell me genetics is harder than general relativity? Or that immunology is harder than quantum mechanics or thermal and statistical mechanics? Biology is something I like to call wuss science. My physics professor does research in biology because the biology department asked him to since they suck at reading data. Physics professors can do research in biology (aka biophysics and medical physics). however, bio professors certainly could not do work in physics.

Anonymous said...

It's school all over again!

spac18 said...

@Anon
Yes, genetics is much harder and diverse than general relativity. Immunology is certainly more difficult than quantum mechanics or thermal and statistical mechanics. Otherwise AIDS would have already been cured. So can you even tell the difference between incomplete dominance and co dominance. If you can't, then you are a wuss.

Anonymous said...

This is such a nerd war. I've taken lots of physics (thermo, a year of quantum, E&M, etc.) and biology (graduate level physiology, immunology, genetics, etc.) and I can tell you that they are both challenging.

This argument and most of the comments are so childish that it repulses me. What is hard for you may not be hard for others. If you're used to physics, go do some biology. If you're used to biology, go learn physics (and for the sake of Einstein, learn some math while you're at it). Each discipline will stretch and blow your mind in a different way. I promise. (Unless you are a biased douche like most of the commenters.)

Also, just so you know, I also had to learn Arabic in 63 weeks when I was in the military. And I can tell you with 100% certainty: THAT is the hardest thing I've ever done. Harder than grad level biology and harder than your precious quantum mechanics.

Anonymous said...

"Any one carbon atom is the same as any other, and today's carbon atoms are the same as those of a billion years ago. But each organism is different."

This shows exactly how little physics and Chemistry you know. Every Carbon atom isn't even remotely close to one another. In one mole of Carbon atoms you could have every isotope present. You could have hydrogenic carbon atoms, carbanions, radical carbocations. A carbon atom in graphite is entirely different than carbon atoms in Diamond. Sp, Sp2, Sp3 are all entirely different species of carbon atoms. Carbon atoms being made in nucleosynthesis in the core of stars is different than the carbon in your Britta filter. You could argue they are all carbon atoms, But they are no way the same. Just like no two house flies are the same but they are still house flies. You kinda shoot your self in the foot with this point. Not to mention Math>Phyiscs> Chemistry> all other science is the proper order period.

Anonymous said...

Biological systems are more complicated than physical systems. I will agree with you on that. Does that mean that biology is harder? No. Not at all.

The reason I think biology is easier than what I consider to be "hard sciences" is the fact that biology is based so heavily on observation. The subject is essentially based on simply performing experiments and observing the results. I don't think this requires very much creativity. It requires to be able to make deductions, certainly, but not to the same extent as other subjects require.

Granted, many branches of physics work the same way. But theoretical physics, pure mathematics, theoretical computer science, etc. require a very different kind of thinking. In these subjects much more work is expended on thinking abstractly and proving things rigorously. No amount of experimentation will ever furnish a proof in any of these subjects. You don't get to cop out and wait around while your PCR runs. That's why I think these sorts of subjects are more difficult.

Anonymous said...

biology harder then physics;

not really

Anonymous said...

Biology is not harder than physics. First, biological systems are physical systems, which means any complexity inherent in a model of such a system at the biological-theoretic level is less than a similar model of the same system in a physical-theoretic idiom; model complexity increases with the precision of the model. Second, the "burden of proof" is far, far higher in physics. When an experimental physicist confirms the existence of a new particular, he does so based on a 5-sigma result, meaning that there is 1 in 3.5 million chance that his results are a statistical fluctuation. No such level of precision exists in biology. And third, biological models, almost exclusively, do no work, meaning they make no testable predictions. Physics is eminently testable. For example, when Einstein corrected Newton for the perihelion shift of Mercury, he did so at 26 decimal places.

Forgive me, but for anyone NOT a biologist, it is laughably absurd to him or her the idea that biology is as difficult as physics a subject of inquiry.