The humbling catalog of reaction mechanisms in chemistry has the functionality and the diversity to create new materials, synthesize critical medications, and sustain life. However, the vast and growing literature in these arenas suggests we are just beginning to understand the laws governing chemical-kinetic systems. Current classifications of their mechanisms, for example, are largely qualitative and highly fragmented across subfields. In stark contrast, it is well known in statistical physics that seemingly unrelated physical phenomena, from sandpiles to earthquakes, can share universal laws when we change the time and length scale of our observation. Are there complementary scaling laws for chemical reactions? If so, what are they? We propose a hypothesis-driven project to investigate the dynamic scaling properties of fundamental chemical mechanisms. This core theme raises several questions: Is there universality across the chemistry that underlies living systems? Does the chemistry of life’s molecular processes have uniquely universal characteristics? To answer these questions we will deploy numerical simulations and statistical-mechanical theory for metabolic and gene expression reaction networks. This research will make two major contributions: (i) advances in the theory and practice for the mechanisms of chemistry and (ii) a foundation for quantitative classification of chemical phenomena at and away from equilibrium. The new understanding produced will be disseminated in publications and open-science notebooks. By elucidating the features of chemical universality, we aim to take a quantitative inventory of dynamic scaling for chemical kinetic models essential to the functioning of living systems.
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