The last half of the 20th century saw the phenomenal success of the reductionist approach to biology. The structures of numerous macromolecules were unravelled, the chemical nature of DNA was discovered, and the genome sequences of a number of organisms were largely or completely determined. Readers of The Biochemist need no reminding -- the Biochemical Society played a major role in these monumental achievements. But this very success has created a difficult challenge for the 21st century: what does all this data mean? Could we imagine that with this information and limitless computing power we could simulate the complete functioning of an organism in an exhaustive bottom-up fashion?

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