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Switch to Forum Live View The origin of life's catch-22
7 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2011 - 6:09PM #1
stardustpilgrim
Posts: 5,664

This is (thread) Part 2, The basis of life is information, not chemistry. I wanted a fresh start.

This morning I began reading an exceptionally interesting book, Programming of Life, 2010, by Donald E. Johnson, PhD Chemistry, PhD Computer and Information Sciences ... It is about the basis for bioinformatics, the study of the information of life, as well as biosemiotics and biocybernetics.

In the introduction Johnson says he will only deal with real science when claiming something as a fact, and that he will not endorse any philosophical or theological view, as that would fall outside of scientific investigation.

This has not been a fun read, as was my last book (The Black Swan thread), but rather informative in relation to my view that the basis of life is information, not chemistry (I am not restrained from using the book as philosophical ammo, as the author has so chosen). So, this is a continuing discussion of the role of information in relation to energy and matter (and physics and chemisrty). For now, I will mostly quote Johnson or others he has quoted. They will, IMvhO, speak for themselves. Chapter one is about probability and the use of mathematics.

The question, 'How did life originate?' ...is inseparably linked to the question 'Where did the information come from?' Since the finding of Watson and Crick, it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life would be forced to explain how the information originated. Werner Gitt, 1997, In the Beginning was Information.

The information content of a single cell has been established as around 10 to the 12th bits, comparable to about 100 million pages of Encyclopaedia Britinica. Carl Sagan.

Information has three significant meanings that are important when considering the information of life: functional, Shannon and prescriptive. Information always involves contingency that rules out other possibilities.

Concerning distinctions in the defintions of information, data can = Shannon information. If a small child sat at your keyboard and punched the keys, data would be present (as Shannon information), but not as functional information, there would be no meaning conveyed by the data. Prescriptive information is more than functional information in that it instructs (like a computer program). (page 8 paraphrased)

Functional information requires that the sender and the intended receiver of the data agree in advance as to the protocol and meaning of the information.

Life can generally be defined as having the characteristics: metabolism, growth, adaptation and reproduction, but a more concise definition is: The existence of a genome and a genetic code devides living organisms from nonliving matter. (Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life, 2005) 

While life uses the laws of chemistry and physics, those laws cannot define or explain life any more than the rules of grammer that we used during the preparation of this book define its content. (Johnson pg 17)

Nobody knows how it happened but, somehow, without violating the laws of physics and chemistry, a molecule arose that just happened to have the property of self-copying-replication. (Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable, 1996, pgs 282,3) 

What creates life out of the inanimate compounds that make up living things? No one knows. How were the first organisms assembled? Nature hasn't given us the slightest hint. If anything, the mystery has deepened over time. Greg Easterbrook, Where Did Life Come from?, Wired Magazine, 2/07, pg108

The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero. (Prigogine, Thermodynamics of Evolution, Physics Today: 25, 1972, p23-28)


stardustpilgrim

Roses always come with thorns. Sometimes, thorns first, sometimes roses first, and, sometimes, thorns outside, roses inside, sometimes roses outside, thorns inside.

Someone who dreams of drinking wine at a cheerful banquet may wake up crying the next morning. Someone who dreams of crying may go off the next morning to enjoy the sport of the hunt. When we are in the midst of a dream, we do not know it's a dream. Sometimes we may even try to interpret our dreams while we are dreaming, but then we awake and realize it was a dream. Only after one is greatly awakened does one realize that it was all a great dream, while the fool thinks that he is awake and presumptuously aware. Chuang Tzu
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7 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2011 - 6:31PM #2
stardustpilgrim
Posts: 5,664

The received view, today, is that life is but an extremely complex form of chemistry... The problem of which molecules came first has been the object of countless debates... What really matters is that spontaneous genes and spontaneous proteins had the potential to evolve into the first cells. This however, is precisely what molecular biology does not support. The genes and proteins of the first cells had to have biological specificity, and specific molecules cannot be formed spontaneously. They can only be manufactured by molecular machines, and their production requires entities like sequences and codes that simply do not exist in spontaneous processes. That is what really divides matter from life. All components of matter arise by spontaneous processes that do not require sequences and codes, whereas all components of life arise by manufacturing processes that do not require these entities. It is sequences and codes that make the difference between life and matter. It is semiosis [symbol translation system] that does not exist in the inanimate world, and that is why biology is not a complex form of chemistry. Marcello Barbieri, Life Is Semiosis-The Biosemiotic View of Nature, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, (4), 2008S, p21-51


....I think it is time to acknowledge fully that living cells make us what we are, and to abandon reductionist thinking in favor of the study of whole cells. Reductionism has us peering ever closer at the fibers in the paper of a musical score, and analysing the printer's ink. I want us to experience the symphony. Brian Ford, On Intelligence in Cells, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 34 (4), 12/09, p350-365  


The main distinctive features of living beings are their extreme complexity, which is unmatched in the non-living world, and (not independently) the rather obvious but still overlooked fact that, besides matter and energy, they receive and transmit information, and that life heavily relies on information transfer and conservation. This last point has no equivalent outside the living world and appears as the specific mark which radically differentiates the living world from the non-living one. It makes biology especially relevant to information theory... prompting biologists to use information as a main tool. Gerard Battail, Genetics as Communication Process Involving Error-Correcting Codes, in Biosemiotics: Information, Codes and Signs in Living Systems, 2007, p105  


sdp   

Roses always come with thorns. Sometimes, thorns first, sometimes roses first, and, sometimes, thorns outside, roses inside, sometimes roses outside, thorns inside.

Someone who dreams of drinking wine at a cheerful banquet may wake up crying the next morning. Someone who dreams of crying may go off the next morning to enjoy the sport of the hunt. When we are in the midst of a dream, we do not know it's a dream. Sometimes we may even try to interpret our dreams while we are dreaming, but then we awake and realize it was a dream. Only after one is greatly awakened does one realize that it was all a great dream, while the fool thinks that he is awake and presumptuously aware. Chuang Tzu
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7 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2011 - 7:37PM #3
teilhard
Posts: 53,304

Besides The "Material" Cause of Life and The "Formal" Cause of Life, The "Efficient" Cause STARTS to get toward The CENTRAL Questions in Terms of "Events," i.e., "History," which is by Its NATURE (relatively) Unique and NON-Repeatable ...


The "Material" and "Formal" Causes of Existence (including "Life") ARE meaningfully investigated by means of Bench Lab Sciences, but "History" remains ... tricky ... It CAN be studied (by Description) POST hoc, but is DIFFICULT to "re-do" ...

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7 years ago  ::  Aug 22, 2011 - 4:16PM #4
newchurchguy
Posts: 3,687

sdp,


Sounds like an excellent book!  I will be interested to hear about what catches your "eye".


As you know -- I have been pointing out that the actual available jobs for bioinformatics have gone off the charts.


The subject has traction in solving new problems and in opening new ways of understanding biological processes.


Just read this article - most of the science is put in terms of signal analysis and of coding.  That it reveals the microbial world's information increasing acceptence; is likewise very gratifying to me.


Even if the article avoids citing the discoverer of the this most important evolutionary pathway, where the merging of microbial DNA with other living things causes new information. Reference to Lynn Margulis -- who took abuse from the neoDarwinists for years and years and has now - won the day..


www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/health/16canc...



These days “junk” DNA is referred to more respectfully as “noncoding” DNA, and researchers are finding clues that “pseudogenes” lurking within this dark region may play a role in cancer.       


“We’ve been obsessively focusing our attention on 2 percent of the genome,” said Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi, a professor of medicine and pathology at Harvard Medical School. This spring, at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, Fla., he described a new “biological dimension” in which signals coming from both regions of the genome participate in the delicate balance between normal cellular behavior and malignancy.       


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7 years ago  ::  Aug 22, 2011 - 6:37PM #5
Faustus5
Posts: 2,064

Aug 22, 2011 -- 4:16PM, newchurchguy wrote:

Reference to Lynn Margulis -- who took abuse from the neoDarwinists for years and years and has now - won the day.



Skippy, she "won the day" on exactly one narrow issue, and continues to get abuse from responsible scientists today because she continually loses the day on everything else she says, or close to it.


As for anyone who thinks we are completely lost at sea on the subject of the origins of life, you know nothing.  Here's a science blog with all sorts of links to discussions of the topic:


scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/07/we_ca...



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7 years ago  ::  Aug 26, 2011 - 11:08AM #6
d_p_m
Posts: 11,236

Aug 21, 2011 -- 6:09PM, stardustpilgrim wrote:


The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero. (Prigogine, Thermodynamics of Evolution, Physics Today: 25, 1972, p23-28)




Again a physicist trying to do biology. They are often quite bad at it.


As for Prigogine:


"His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.  And to go from the failure of Prigogine's theories to explain self-organization, to claiming that self-organization doesn't happen, is just (forgive me) bullshit.  Self-organization can be demonstrated in the lab and in nature to anyone with eyes to see."


-- cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/prigo...

"If you aren't confused by quantum physics, you haven't really understood it."
― Niels Bohr

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
-- Albert Einstein

"If one is going to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of social awkwardness."
-- Penny Dreadful, season one, episode two
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7 years ago  ::  Aug 26, 2011 - 1:08PM #7
newchurchguy
Posts: 3,687

DPM,


First Prigogene was Chemist - not a physicst.  Second he won the Nobel for his work on dissapative systems.


How am I to sort distortions of yecs from what you do.  The author of the article, Cosma Shalizi, was speaking of a creationist, NOT - Prigogine who got self-organization going as a science.


this post was deceptive.  (just like the yecs)


Note, 17 April 2003: I've just discovered a Turkish creationist (and anti-Masonic conspiracy theorist) has linked to this page, and mined my quotations here, to try to make it sound like self-organization is a "myth", and evolution is thermodynamically impossible.  For the record, this is repugnant and I have nothing to do with it.  His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.




Aug 26, 2011 -- 11:08AM, d_p_m wrote:


Aug 21, 2011 -- 6:09PM, stardustpilgrim wrote:


The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero. (Prigogine, Thermodynamics of Evolution, Physics Today: 25, 1972, p23-28)




Again a physicist trying to do biology. They are often quite bad at it.


As for Prigogine:


"His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.  And to go from the failure of Prigogine's theories to explain self-organization, to claiming that self-organization doesn't happen, is just (forgive me) bullshit.  Self-organization can be demonstrated in the lab and in nature to anyone with eyes to see."


-- cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/prigo...





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7 years ago  ::  Aug 26, 2011 - 2:35PM #8
d_p_m
Posts: 11,236

Aug 26, 2011 -- 1:08PM, newchurchguy wrote:


DPM,


First Prigogene was Chemist - not a physicst.  Second he won the Nobel for his work on dissapative systems.


How am I to sort distortions of yecs from what you do.  The author of the article, Cosma Shalizi, was speaking of a creationist, NOT - Prigogine who got self-organization going as a science.


this post was deceptive.  (just like the yecs)


Note, 17 April 2003: I've just discovered a Turkish creationist (and anti-Masonic conspiracy theorist) has linked to this page, and mined my quotations here, to try to make it sound like self-organization is a "myth", and evolution is thermodynamically impossible.  For the record, this is repugnant and I have nothing to do with it.  His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.




Aug 26, 2011 -- 11:08AM, d_p_m wrote:


Aug 21, 2011 -- 6:09PM, stardustpilgrim wrote:


The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero. (Prigogine, Thermodynamics of Evolution, Physics Today: 25, 1972, p23-28)




Again a physicist trying to do biology. They are often quite bad at it.


As for Prigogine:


"His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.  And to go from the failure of Prigogine's theories to explain self-organization, to claiming that self-organization doesn't happen, is just (forgive me) bullshit.  Self-organization can be demonstrated in the lab and in nature to anyone with eyes to see."


-- cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/prigo...









Ooops. I stand corrected - he was a physical chemist, not a physicist, nor a biologist.


I will note that 'statistical mechanics' is normally considered physics.


I may have misattributed the 'he' in the quote.


Looking at the entire page:


-------------------------------


Ilya Prigogine was a Belgian-American scientist, working mainly in physical chemistry and statistical mechanics. (He's of white Russian descent, hence his rather un-Belgian first name.)  As part of the "Brussels School" of thermodynamics, he did important and valuable work on irreversible processes in the 1950s and 1960s.  In the 1970s he began to work on what he called "dissipative structures" (q.v.).  He also began to dispute the orthodox ideas of statistical mechanics, according to which the fundamental laws of physics are reversible, and the irreversible phenomena of everyday life and physical chemistry arise statistically. (The usual example is that it's not impossible for every molecule of glucose from a sugar-cube dissolved in water to find its way back to just the right place to re-assemble the sugar-cube, any more than it's impossible to get a million heads in a row tossing a fair coin, but both are damn unlikely.  Statistical mechanics lets us quantify the damn unlikelihood.)  Partly his rejection of statistical mechanics rests on technical grounds; partly on an unwillingness to see irreversibility originated in reversibility, as merely a statistical effect; partly it comes from his early and enduring devotion to the philosophy of Henri Bergson.  This led to a good deal of controversy within physics, which pretty much consisted of the rest of the profession versus Prigogine.


After winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry for '76, Prigogine began writing popular books about his work.  But he wasn't (he said) just trying to popularize some fairly esoteric material in statistical physics; this stuff was profound, he said.  The old timeless soulless mechanistic drab and cold sciences of being were giving way, on their last legs; supplanting them were new sciences of becoming, with lots of room for "human time" (Bergson again), spiritual values, kind words for Heidegger's grousing about technology --- generally a much more clubbable and more poetic and more elevating sort of thing, a whole <<nouvelle alliance>> with nature. The study of dissipative structures and self-organization (the two are hardly distinguished in his writings; I cannot speak for his mind) is, we are told, a prime example of the sciences of becoming.  This led to him becoming, all at once, the patron scientist of New Age twinks, of post-modern I-know-not-whats, of some anti-post-modern I-know-not-whats (like Frederick Turner), and of Alvin Toffler.  (The English translation of La Nouvelle alliance, titled Order Out of Chaos, boasts a foreword by Toffler, associating it with his own lower and distorted form of historical materialism.)


Clearly, I am hostile to all this; but in the interests of fairness, before consigning From Being to Becoming and its kindred to the flames, I should enumerate Prigogine's intellectual benefactions.  First, he really did do excellent work on non-equilibrium thermodynamics in the early days; his Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes is a model of lucidity, and while inevitably dated (the last revision was in 1967), suffers for the most part from the omission of new results, not the commission of definite errors.  Second, he tried to push forward a rigorous and well-grounded study of pattern formation and self-organization almost before anyone else.  He failed, but the attempt was inspiring.  Third, and related to the previous item, his example encouraged many people to take up the same problems, and do better than he had. Fourth he helped inspire some of the earliest and most mind-bending of Bruce Sterling's science fiction.  (I am not being frivolous when I say this; frivolity would be suggesting that this was because they both lived in Austin.)


Reading accounts of Prigogine's work by non-physicists, a number of mis-understandings crop up much more often than chance alone would suggest. These all flatter him, but I do not believe he deliberately encourages any of them.


Perhaps the most significant is that his ideas about dissipative structure are actually of use in the experimental study and theoretical analysis of pattern formation.  In fact, they are not.  His supposed criteria for predicting the stability of far-from-equilibrium dissipative structures fails --- except for states very near equilibrium (Keizer, pp. 360--1).  The Brusselator-type models of chemical oscillators and other excitable media are quite incompetent to handle many important and easily-observed experimental phenomena; and so on.  As Pierre Hohenberg put it, "I don't know of a single phenomenon his theory has explained."  Perhaps for this reason, in the just under five hundred pages of his Self-Organization in Nonequilibrium Systems, there are just four graphs of real-world data, and no comparison of any of his models with experimental results.  Nor are his ideas about irreversiblity at all connected to self-organization, except for their both being topics in statistical physics.  Self-organization is usually modeled in such a crude way that working in any sort of microscopic dynamics, reversible or otherwise, isn't worth the bother, but it's perfectly possible to have a reversible system, of just the kind Prigogine dislikes, which nonetheless self-organizes quite nicely.  (See, if only because a little citation of friends never hurt anyone, Raissa D'Souza and Norman Margolus, "Reversible Aggregation in a Lattice Gas Model Using Coupled Diffusion Fields," cond-mat/9810258, for such a model.)


Next after this is the claim that Prigogine played a big part in the origins of chaos theory.  His advances are easily summarized: Prigogine made no significant contributions to nonlinear dynamics. He employed results achieved by mathematicians, which is a very different thing.


Nor did Prigogine found non-equilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics; that honor doesn't even go the Brussels School of which he is a member.  As far back as 1872, in the course of mating the kinetic theory of gases to thermodynamics, and so spawning statistical mechanics, Boltzmann produced an equation --- Boltzmann's Equation, naturally --- for the evolution of the distribution of the position and velocity of particles in a fluid, which not only handles non-equilibrium situations but is quite non-linear.  His disciples Paul and Tatiana Ehrenfest went on to produce an influential "urn model," a kind of caricature of the approach to equilibrium.  (The Ehrenfests extended their imitation of the master to killing themselves.)


This work, and its relatives, is all at the level of statistical mechanics; but even at the coarser and more abstract level of thermodynamics, the breakthrough to treating non-equilibrium, irreversible processes was made, not by Prigogine in the 1950s and 1960s (as one reads in far too many books), but by Lars Onsager in the 1920s, and published in 1931 in that obscure journal to which unacceptable ideas are condemned by the scientific establishment, The Physical Review. [One e-mail from an irony-impaired reader later: The Physical Review is the official organ of the American Physical Society; nowadays it's the premier journal in physics, and even in 1931 it was a coup.]  This work was recognized as being absolutely brilliant, and when Onsager was decently aged he got the 1968 Nobel Prize in chemistry for initiating non-equilibrium thermodynamics.  Nobody outside of physics and chemistry has ever heard of Onsager, even though this is one of at least four fundamental contributions he made to statistical physics (the others being a solution of the Ising model of magnetic phase transitions, the first model of the nematic order of liquid crystals, and the independent discovery of the statistical theory of turbulence first found by Kolmogorov).  The reason is, of course, that Onsager did not claim any profound cultural, metaphysical significance for his work.  (It has none.)


Finally, it must be said that much of what outsiders take to be novel in Prigogine's work on statistical mechanics and the origins of irreversiblity --- probabilistic treatments, abandoning individual trajectories of particles for statistical ensembles, writing off Laplace's Demon as a loss --- is in fact part of orthodox statistical mechanics, and, again, has been so ever since Boltzmann.  (Recall that Laplace argued, in his Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, that if a sufficiently "vast and considerable intellect" knew the complete laws of microscopic physics, and the physical state of the universe at any one moment, it could calculate the state of the universe at all subsequent times; all prior ones, too, if the laws are reversible.  But of course not even Laplace thought such a thing was anywhere near the bounds of practicality, of real possibility, since we could never know the exact state of anything, much less the whole universe.  That's why Laplace wrote books on probability theory, after all.)  The true disagreement between him and us (and it is between him, or at any rate himself and his students, and the rest of us), has to do with the origins of irreversiblity. Now, it's a simple matter of brute fact, demonstrable mathematically and visually, on a computer, that reversible small-scale dynamics can lead to large-scale effects which are irreversible on any reasonable time-scale. (Demonstrable, but I've seen a statistician who thought otherwise refuse to believe that a computer running such a demonstration really was programmed as claimed.)  The question is then whether real dynamics, the ones actually operative in this universe, have the necessary properties.  The equations of motion we've found to work very nicely in most applications --- whether Newtonian or quantum-mechanical --- are reversible, but led to irreversible phenomena in aggregate.  An excellent critique of Prigogine's arguments, including an exposition of the traditional views, is Jean Bricmont's polemically titled "Science of Chaos or Chaos in Science?"


In addition to these technical doubts about his science, I find myself completely unpersuaded by his philosophy.  (What follows is taken from one of my letters: if I can't steal from myself, who can I steal from?)  The difference between a universe with deterministic, reversible physical laws and one with stochastic, irreversible laws interests scientists, philosophers working on the foundations of physics, maybe even epistemologists, but I don't see how it has any bearing at all on ethics or metaphysics --- certainly it's only his say-so that the latter has room for spirituality, cosmic purpose, etc. and the former doesn't.  In fact it sounds like a scene out of Candide:


"The earthquake in Lisbon has destroyed the work of centuries in the city, plunged the country into chaos, and killed thousands, guilty and innocent alike.  My entire family was wiped out when the cathedral collapsed upon them, and I will shortly expire from this infected wound caused by falling masonry.  Where is the justice?  What is the point?"

"But consider, friend, that the bacteria in your swollen and suppurating arm are prodigiously complicated creatures, assembling themselves from that continual and far-from-equilibrium flow of energy and material which you are; that the leveling of this great city provides a splendid opportunity for urban morphogenesis; that the death of the innocents was not the outcome of blind deterministic laws, an always-fated condition of being, but open and stochastic, a moment of pure becoming; that the earthquake itself was a fluctuation in an open system, a strongly non-linear phenomenon leading to a more stable geophysical state; in short all this devastation you see around you is manifestation of the reality of time, of lived experience, of our own integration into the universe."


"Ah!  Thank you, Dr. Prigogine!  All is for the best in the best of all possible vortices."  With that, he coughed up blood and died.



Since writing that, I've read Horgan's description (in The End of Science) of an interview --- one almost says audience --- with Prigogine.  I'm pleased to see that he agrees with my evaluation of Uncle Ilya; but would be more pleased if his over-all take on science wasn't so wrong-headed.


Note, 17 April 2003: I've just discovered a Turkish creationist (and anti-Masonic conspiracy theorist) has linked to this page, and mined my quotations here, to try to make it sound like self-organization is a "myth", and evolution is thermodynamically impossible.  For the record, this is repugnant and I have nothing to do with it.  His arguments about evolution and thermodynamics are century-old fallacies.  And to go from the failure of Prigogine's theories to explain self-organization, to claiming that self-organization doesn't happen, is just (forgive me) bullshit.  Self-organization can be demonstrated in the lab and in nature to anyone with eyes to see.


Note, 18 September 2006: If you sent me e-mail about this page in the last few days, please re-send; your letter was deleted in a system crash.


[Thanks to Pedro Fonseca for pointing out an HTML bug, to Olivier Pelletier for reminding me about Onsager's work on liquid crystals, and to "Dougie" for typo-catching.]


See also:     Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics;     Foundations of Statistical Mechanics;     Self-Organization;     Pattern Formation


    Recommended:
  • Prigogine's Own:         
    • P. Glansdorff and ~, Thermodynamic Theory of Structure, Stability and Fluctuations [1971; advances the ill-fated "general evolution criterion"]
    • G. Nicolis and ~, Self-Organization in Nonequilibrium Systems [1977.  The concluding chapters on evolution and ecology display that disdain for biologists' actual knowledge of these subjects which has become all too typical of physicists.]
    • Introduction to Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (first ed. pub. 1955, third and last ed. pub 1968)
  • Controversial Literature:         
    • J. Bricmont, "Science of Chaos or Chaos in Science?" (chao-dyn 9603009) [It's fifty pages, but it's worth it, and he's able to confine the math to foot-notes.  --- Bricmont is now infamous as the co-author, with Alan Sokal, of Intellectual Impostures.]
    • Joel Keizer, Statistical Thermodynamics of Nonequilibrium Processes
    • John Maynard Smith, "Rottenness Is All," a review of Order Out of Chaos collected in Did Darwin Get It Right?
    • Heinz Pagels, "Is the irreversiblity we see a fundamental property of nature?" (review of Order Out of Chaos), Physics Today, Jan. 1985, pp. 97--99. "[W]hile this book contains much that is new and correct, all too often that which is correct is not new and that which is new is not correct."

    To read:
  • Roger C. Bishop, "Nonequilibrium statistical mechanics Brussels-Austin Style", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics35 (2004): 1--30 [presumably = this two-part preprint]
  • Bram Edens, "Semigroups and Symmetry: An Investigation of Prigogine's Theories," phil-sci/436

 


--------------------------------


 


Bottom line: He's still a layman playing at biology.

"If you aren't confused by quantum physics, you haven't really understood it."
― Niels Bohr

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
-- Albert Einstein

"If one is going to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of social awkwardness."
-- Penny Dreadful, season one, episode two
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7 years ago  ::  Aug 26, 2011 - 4:01PM #9
newchurchguy
Posts: 3,687

Then the borderline crossing happens when communication of both information syntax and meaningful information - mark the start of life.   There is no self-reference in the inanimate world.  Bio-function runs on "the drive to survive" and act on self-concerned information.  What (or -who, if one is so inclined) pressed the first SEND button.  What is the basis of creativity?


sdp - have you read any S. Kauffman's ideas about self-organization.


www.dailymotion.com/swf/xbpcom


Aug 21, 2011 -- 6:31PM, stardustpilgrim wrote:


That is what really divides matter from life. All components of matter arise by spontaneous processes that do not require sequences and codes, whereas all components of life arise by manufacturing processes that do not require these entities. It is sequences and codes that make the difference between life and matter. It is semiosis [symbol translation system] that does not exist in the inanimate world, and that is why biology is not a complex form of chemistry. Marcello Barbieri, Life Is Semiosis-The Biosemiotic View of Nature, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, (4), 2008S, p21-51


sdp   





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7 years ago  ::  Aug 26, 2011 - 7:22PM #10
stardustpilgrim
Posts: 5,664

Aug 26, 2011 -- 4:01PM, newchurchguy wrote:


 


sdp - have you read any S. Kauffman's ideas about self-organization.


 




I've browsed both his books...but that's about it........


sdp

Roses always come with thorns. Sometimes, thorns first, sometimes roses first, and, sometimes, thorns outside, roses inside, sometimes roses outside, thorns inside.

Someone who dreams of drinking wine at a cheerful banquet may wake up crying the next morning. Someone who dreams of crying may go off the next morning to enjoy the sport of the hunt. When we are in the midst of a dream, we do not know it's a dream. Sometimes we may even try to interpret our dreams while we are dreaming, but then we awake and realize it was a dream. Only after one is greatly awakened does one realize that it was all a great dream, while the fool thinks that he is awake and presumptuously aware. Chuang Tzu
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