In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are “great thinkers” who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Minds such as Stephen Hawking philosophize about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. Stuart A. Kauffman is one of those great thinkers. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching “complex systems” at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex system of all: our universe.
A recent Scientific American article claims that “philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends,” and perhaps no better quote sums up what Kauffman’s latest book offers. Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is inter-disciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term “prestatability” to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms. As evidenced by the title’s mention of creativity, the book refreshingly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In this fascinating read, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not entirely predictable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variations of evolution. Sure to cause a stir, this book will be discussed for years to come and may even set the tone for the next “great thinker.”
Biological evolution is a complex blend of ever changing structural stability, variability and emergence of new phenotypes, niches, ecosystems. We wish to argue that the evolution of life marks the end of a physics world view of law entailed dynamics. Our considerations depend upon discussing the variability of the very ”contexts of life”: the interactions between organisms, biological niches and ecosystems. These are ever changing, intrinsically indeterminate and even unprestatable: we do not know ahead of time the “niches” which constitute the boundary conditions on selection. More generally, by the mathematical unprestatability of the “phase space” (space of possibilities), no laws of motion can be formulated for evolution. We call this radical emergence, from life to life. The purpose of this paper is the integration of variation and diversity in a sound conceptual frame and situate unpredictability at a novel theoretical level, that of the very phase space.
Our argument will be carried on in close comparisons with physics and the mathematical constructions of phase spaces in that discipline. The role of (theoretical) symmetries as invariant preserving transformations will allow us to understand the nature of physical phase spaces and to stress the diﬀerences required for a sound biological theoretizing. In this frame, we discuss the novel notion of ”enablement”. Life lives in a web of enablement and radical emergence. This will restrict causal analyses to diﬀerential cases (a diﬀerence that causes a diﬀerence). Mutations or other causal diﬀerences will allow us to stress that ”non conservation principles” are at the core of evolution, in contrast to physical dynamics, largely based on conservation principles as symmetries. Critical transitions, the main locus of symmetry changes in physics, will be discussed, and lead to ”extended criticality” as a conceptual frame for a better understanding of the living state of matter.
From Jos Leys, Étienne Ghys and Aurélien Alvarez, the makers of Dimensions, comes CHAOS, a math movie with nine 13-minute chapters. It is a film about dynamical systems, the butterfly effect and chaos theory, intended for a wide audience. CHAOS is available in a large choice of languages and subtitles.
God’s dice liberates us from the prison of determinism, the hopeless tedium of the cosmic clock and the inevitable death of entropy. We have instead an intelligent Universe, where ever new and evolving life forms thrive on Chaos, where negentropy creates higher order from decaying forms. The clock is not winding down as the second law of thermodynamics had thought, it is ever being created anew. God is back in the picture, not just as the creator of the machine who then left — the ghost in the machine — but as the Strange Attractor, the origin of inexplicable and unpredictable order from chance.
We consider the fabric of spacetime from a wide perspective: from mathematics, quantum physics, far from equilibrium thermodynamics, biology and neurobiology. It appears likely that spacetime is fractal and quantum coherent in the golden mean. Mathematically, our fractal universe is non-differentiable and discontinuous, yet dense in the infinite dimensional spacetime. Physically, it appears to be a quantum coherent universe consisting of an infinite diversity of autonomous agents all participating in co-creating organic, fractal spacetime by their multitudinous coupled cycles of activities. Biologically, this fractal coherent spacetime is also the fabric of conscious awareness mirrored in the quantum coherent golden mean brain states.
Whitehead’s philosophy, discontinuous nondifferentiable spacetime, fractals, coupled activity cycles, deterministic chaos, quantum coherence and fractals, golden mean.
Reproduced from: https://reflexus.org/wp-content/uploads/maturana.pdf Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol.7, no. 2-3, 2000, pp. 147–150 ASC American Society forCybernetics a society for the art and science of human understanding The Effectiveness of Mathematical Formalisms Humberto Maturana Romesin In this short article I would like to address the question: How is that mathematical formalisms permit us to compute relations in the… Read More
The principles which underpin physical law are at the heart of science. New ideas and new concepts are examined and evaluated in terms of how they lead to new insight into present paradigms. The lectures discuss methodology, important mathematical structures and various aspects of symmetry, how they lead to consistency, or otherwise, with present understanding, and how also they can facilitate quantitative analysis. Read More
Reproduced from: https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-octonion-math-that-could-underpin-physics-20180720/ FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.” Natalie Wolchover Senior Writer/Editor July 20, 2018 DOWNLOAD AS PDF In 2014, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, Canada,… Read More
Published on Apr 4, 2015 An introduction to Constructor Theory presented by David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto, introduced by Simon Benjamin. http://constructortheory.org Constructor Theory is a new approach to formulating fundamental laws in physics. Instead of describing the world in terms of trajectories, initial conditions and dynamical laws, in constructor theory laws are about which… Read More
Our notions of what is physically ‘real’ have long been based on the idea that the real is what is immediately apprehended, that is the local or observable, the physically tangible, though there has always been an alternative philosophical notion that the ‘real’ is some kind of ontological structure beyond immediate apprehension, and so inaccessible through physics. However, quantum mechanics, with its intrinsic nonlocal correlations, has seemingly left us with a dilemma by showing that fundamental physical theories cannot be both real and local. Reality cannot be reconstructed as a deterministic projection from physical observations. Many people think that the problem lies with quantum mechanics, but, in fact, it is more likely to be a result of unrealistic expectations. We have assumed that fundamental physics ought to be compatible with normal (macroscopic) experience. If, however, we go beyond our current high-level physical theories to the basic elements from which they are constructed, we see that a pattern emerges that gives us a very different and much more coherent understanding of what is meant by physical ‘reality’. Read More