What does it mean to compute something? Fingers play the calculator keys; humming servers plow through algorithms. To compute is to calculate, to generate a solution, to predict an outcome from a distilled set of variables determined to be meaningful to the problem. We can compute the path of a comet, the metabolism of a drug, and traffic patterns through a city. But what about the development of an organism, from an egg to an embryo to a full-fledged organism? Does development lend itself to computation?

This was the question posed by the eminent developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert in a 1994 essay in Science magazine. “Will the egg be computable?” he wrote….

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