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It has long been an objective of the physical sciences to derive principles of biology from the laws of physics. At the angstrom scale for processes evolving on timescales of 10-14 s, many systems can be characterized in terms of atomic vibrations and collisions. In contrast, biological systems display dramatic transformations including self-assembly and reorganization from one cell phenotype to another as the microenvironment changes. We have developed a framework for understanding the emergence of living systems from the underlying atomic chaos.