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In 'E.coil in Motion' Howard Berg says that

'If it [a cell] is to go far enough to find out whether life is getting better or worse, it must outrun diffusion.'

I am confused about the exact meaning of this expression and can't seem to find an explanation. What is meant by 'life is getting better or worse' and why can't a cell just wait for things to come to it by diffusion?

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Because then it wouldn't be going anywhere, and the first part of the sentence is specifically about traveling.

Without more context that might make me wrong, I think the statement is intentionally tautological and is just meant to set up a problem to solve.

By "better or worse" I think the author means to generalize about conditions that an organism may prefer: nutrient concentrations, temperatures, etc.

Restated, I think the author is roughly saying "For cells to spend more time where conditions are best for them, they have to move on their own power."

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