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Open mike: Origin of Biological Information conference: Origin of life studies flatlined

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Biological Information

From the Introduction to the now-published papers, on origin of life:

The origin of life is the most vexing problem facing contemporary science. It has fiercely resisted reductionist approaches to its resolution. All attempts to get life started solely through life’s underlying chemistry have come up short. Could it be that although chemistry provides the medium for biological information, the information itself constitutes a message capable of riding free from the underlying medium? Could such information be a real entity — as real as the chemical constituents that embody it, and yet not reducible to them — and, dare we say, have an intelligent cause? Granted, this is itself a speculative possibility, but in a field so rife with speculation, why allow only one set of speculations (those that adhere to the old perspective) and disallow others (those that open up new possibilities)? The contributors to this volume are not offering final answers. Rather, they are raising penetrating questions precisely where the old perspective has failed to offer a promising starting point for understanding the origin of biological information.

Do you agree with this assessment of origin of life studies?

Mikes are live.

Note: All conference papers here.

See also: Origin of Biological Information conference: Its goals

9 Replies to “Open mike: Origin of Biological Information conference: Origin of life studies flatlined

  1. 1

    It is true, as you say, that all attempts at inventing life randomly have come up short, as have all attempts at creating life lawfully. The paradox is that neither chance nor order can explain what we observe. Yet this does not mean that OOL research is “flatlined”, for we are learning a great deal, even as we discover what doesn’t work.

    Darwin undoubtedly believed in the fecundity of primordial ooze, yet 150 years of study have shown both the complexity and fragility of that polysaccharide glycopeptide. The biologist Jacques Monod may claim that his OOL research has led him to the Abyss of meaninglessness where a faith in Man’s existence is his only support, but today the Abyss is ever deeper and the supports are ever more divine.

    It will be OOL research, I feel, that breaks down the barrier between Intelligent Design and Darwinism. For it is only at OOL that the Darwinist acknowledges the unscaleable odds and his incapacity to conquer them. And it is also only at OOL that the ID acknowledges his own inability to fathom the intelligence that brought this divine design into progressive existence. As I said, the two sides will meet when they both acknowledge their profound infirmity of thought and theology.

    And that is why OOL research will never be flatlined.

  2. 2
    Neil Rickert says:

    Do you agree with this assessment of origin of life studies?

    In a word, no. It is not the most vexing problem facing science. We can manage quite well even if we never solve this problem.

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    Strange that Neil didn’t say what he thinks the most vexing problem is.

    That said, I agree with the OP. Figure out how we got here and many other issues will also be resolved- issues like is there a purpose for our existence- is there something else-> IOW the question of our place in the universe will answered.

  4. 4
    Neil Rickert says:

    Strange that Neil didn’t say what he thinks the most vexing problem is.

    There are many vexing problems in all areas of science — far too many to enumerate. I don’t need to pick out a “most vexing” to see that OOL is not even close.

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    So many that you can’t even give one example.


    Neil, when you go shopping, if there are too many choices, do you just leave?

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this comment from the OP:

    Could it be that although chemistry provides the medium for biological information, the information itself constitutes a message capable of riding free from the underlying medium? Could such information be a real entity — as real as the chemical constituents that embody it, and yet not reducible to them — and, dare we say, have an intelligent cause? Granted, this is itself a speculative possibility, but in a field so rife with speculation, why allow only one set of speculations

    Actually the fact that,,,

    “Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.”
    Norbert Weiner – MIT Mathematician -(Cybernetics, 2nd edition, p.132) Norbert Wiener created the modern field of control and communication systems, utilizing concepts like negative feedback. His seminal 1948 book Cybernetics both defined and named the new field.

    The fact that ‘Information is Information, not matter or energy’ is not nearly as ‘speculative’ as it once was. In fact I hold that it is not speculative at all. We now have evidence from physics that encoded ‘classical’ information, such as what Dembski and Marks have demonstrated the conservation of, and such as what we find encoded in computer programs, and yes, such as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘non-local’ (beyond space and time) quantum entanglement/information by the following method:,,,

    Scientists show how to erase information without using energy – January 2011
    Excerpt: Until now, scientists have thought that the process of erasing information requires energy. But a new study shows that, theoretically, information can be erased without using any energy at all. Instead, the cost of erasure can be paid in terms of another conserved quantity, such as spin angular momentum.,,, “Landauer said that information is physical because it takes energy to erase it. We are saying that the reason it is physical has a broader context than that.”, Vaccaro explained.

    The following put ‘meat on the bones’ to the preceding paper,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy. Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”

    Quantum entanglement is shown to be related to ‘functional information’ here;

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Excerpt: A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems.

    ,,,And we have evidence that quantum information is ‘conserved’ here;,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.

    ,, and the fact that Quantum information/entanglement requires a beyond space-time cause is revealed by the following method,,

    Quantum Entanglement Bell’s – Inequalities – The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: In the years since, many “Bell tests” have been performed, but critics have identified several conditions (known as loopholes) in which the results could be considered inconclusive. For entangled photons, there have been three major loopholes; two were closed by previous experiments. The remaining problem, known as the “detection-efficiency/fair sampling loophole,” results from the fact that, until now, the detectors employed in experiments have captured an insufficiently large fraction of the photons, and the photon sources have been insufficiently efficient. The validity of such experiments is thus dependent on the assumption that the detected photons are a statistically fair sample of all the photons. That, in turn, leaves open the possibility that, if all the photon data were known, they could be described by local realism.
    The new research, conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Communication in Austria, closes the fair-sampling loophole by using improved photon sources (spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a Sagnac configuration) and ultra-sensitive detectors provided by the Single Photonics and Quantum Information project in PML’s Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division. That combination, the researchers write, was “crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency,” resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,

    The following article gives us a small glimpse as to what it truly means for non-local quantum entanglement to be confirmed to an order of ’70 standard deviations’:

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Even matter and energy are now shown to both be reducible to quantum information/entanglement,,

    How Teleportation Will Work –
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.

    The following articles show that even atoms (Ions) are subject to quantum teleportation:

    Of note: An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge.

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.

    If all that was not bad enough towards the materialist who prefers, for whatever misguided reason, that life have a completely naturalistic (within space-time) explanation, this ‘spooky action at a distance’, as Einstein termed quantum entanglement, is now found to be in life on a massive scale:

    Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight – 2009
    Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video

    Quantum entanglement between the electron clouds of nucleic acids in DNA – Elisabeth Rieper, Janet Anders and Vlatko Vedral – February 2011

    Besides DNA, quantum information has been confirmed to be in protein structures as well;

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    – from Technology Review

    Thus besides the fact that no one has ever seen classical information arise by purely material means, (Abel: Null Hypothesis), IDists now how direct evidence from physics that the classical information and quantum information/entanglement in life is its own independent entity that exercises dominion over, and is not reducible to matter and energy. In fact, to the chagrin of dogmatic atheists, the situation is found to be the polar opposite in that matter and energy both reduce to ‘non-local’ quantum information.

    Verse and music:

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    Casting Crowns – The Word Is Alive – (Live)

  8. 8

    Well, if by “vexing” they mean “urgent” or “critical to understand” for purposes of solving immediate challenges in the world, then perhaps Neil is right.

    On the other hand, if by “vexing” they mean “perplexing” or “intriguing,” then I’d be inclined to agree with them (though I might have softened it by adding “one of”). The origin of life is one of the oldest, longest-researched, most-challenging, problems that has ever arisen in science; and it cuts across several disciplines and has intrigued cultures from the ancients to modern-day man. The fact that there has also been so little concrete progress toward a natural explanation — despite decades of research and tens of billions of dollars — is, at least to those seeking a purely natural explanation, most certainly “vexing.” 🙂

  9. 9
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Do you agree with this assessment of origin of life studies?

    Baffling, yes. Vexing, no. I think if you have cancer, then the cure for cancer is the most vexing problem for science.

    Or heart disease.

    Or rabies.


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