All biologists agree that evolution happens by Natural Selection. But it’s by no means clear what it is that’s selected. Some scientists say it’s the genes and their particular molecular components, others that individual organisms select by competition, others that it’s between groups of organisms not individuals. These groups of different sizes can each interact with the environment and adapt to the many kinds of change.
But whether selection is between molecules, individuals or groups, the feature that can best adapt is the one most sensitive to a particular change. It’s a big game that we’re all playing together, whether we’re teams of chemicals, cells, organisms or groups of different sizes.
It’s the size of such groups that’s at the centre of a new movie about four musicians, how they suffer the strains and challenges of a crisis in their own changing environment. To make good music they have to experience the sublime state, to live at the edge and share their passionate reactions. As with evolving species, the interactions show up at different levels in the group’s repertoire: the musical notation, the instruments, their health, their sex life. The intimacy of the small group reveals just how sensitive they all are in the crisis. It leads forward to the quartet’s peak performance and a new outlook.