Intelligent Design

Bell’s Number, the Interactome, and a Peek at a Monumental Problem for Evolution

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If you ever wondered how the biological world could have arisen from random events and a few simple natural laws then you might be interested in a recent paper introducing some basic, fundamental problems confronting evolutionary theory. For whereas man-made machines may have a great number of components, these machines are specifically designed to limit the number of interactions. The components only interact with a small number of other components and a matrix describing these interactions would be very sparse. Not so for many biological systems. The paper shows that the magnitude of the interactome—the sum total of all interactions in systems such as the nervous system—is on the order of Bell’s number, which scales faster than exponentially. Indeed, for discrete components, the logarithm of Bell’s number is n[log(n) – 1].  Read more

28 Replies to “Bell’s Number, the Interactome, and a Peek at a Monumental Problem for Evolution

  1. 1

    “So, Dr. Hawking, an infinite number of universeS is simply not enough chance. How do you respond to that?”

    “Infinity times infinity!”

    “That’s still not enough …”

    “INFINITY TO THE INFINITE POWER!!”

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    “To infinity…and beyond!”

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    There’s a lot more truth to this following quote than the guy realized at the time:

    Systems biology: Untangling the protein web – July 2009
    Excerpt: Vidal thinks that technological improvements — especially in nanotechnology, to generate more data, and microscopy, to explore interaction inside cells, along with increased computer power — are required to push systems biology forward. “Combine all this and you can start to think that maybe some of the information flow can be captured,” he says. But when it comes to figuring out the best way to explore information flow in cells, Tyers jokes that it is like comparing different degrees of infinity. “The interesting point coming out of all these studies is how complex these systems are — the different feedback loops and how they cross-regulate each other and adapt to perturbations are only just becoming apparent,” he says. “The simple pathway models are a gross oversimplification of what is actually happening.”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....0415a.html

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    If evolution were true one would expect a drop off in this ‘infinite’ level of complexity the closer one got to the simplest organism on earth, but that drop off is not what we find:

    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012
    Excerpt: Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes.,,,
    The bioengineers, led by Stanford’s Markus Covert, succeeded in modeling the bacterium, and published their work last week in the journal Cell. What’s fascinating is how much horsepower they needed to partially simulate this simple organism. It took a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to actually generate the data on the 25 categories of molecules that are involved in the cell’s lifecycle processes.,,,
    ,,the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage, even given Moore’s Law. The M. genitalium model required 28 subsystems to be individually modeled and integrated, and many critics of the work have been complaining on Twitter that’s only a fraction of what will eventually be required to consider the simulation realistic.,,,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/tec.....rs/260198/

    Going down to the level of an atom does nothing to help the atheistic materialist in terms of simplifying the complexity being dealt with. The complexity of computing the actions of even a simple atom, in detail, quickly exceeds the capacity of our most advanced supercomputers of today:

    Delayed time zero in photoemission: New record in time measurement accuracy – June 2010
    Excerpt: Although they could confirm the effect qualitatively using complicated computations, they came up with a time offset of only five attoseconds. The cause of this discrepancy may lie in the complexity of the neon atom, which consists, in addition to the nucleus, of ten electrons. “The computational effort required to model such a many-electron system exceeds the computational capacity of today’s supercomputers,” explains Yakovlev.
    http://www.physorg.com/news196606514.html

    Even if one goes down to the tiniest bit of space-time, the ‘infinite’ problem still does not become alleviated for the atheistic materialist:

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    John1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    Related note:

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe.
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....g-infinity

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    a few more assorted notes:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4572335

    It is also very interesting to note that the quantum state of a photon is actually defined as ‘infinite information’ in its uncollapsed quantum wave state:

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

  6. 6

    Cornelius

    For whereas man-made machines may have a great number of components, these machines are specifically designed to limit the number of interactions. The components only interact with a small number of other components and a matrix describing these interactions would be very sparse. Not so for many biological systems.

    What a magnificent own goal!

    Exactly.

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    bornagain77,

    In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored.

    What a brilliant idea!

    So, with intracellular structures, the analogous solution would be to simply define the exploding complexity that’s being discovered as “protoplasm” and call it good. Oh, and you’d need to cap it with an “overwhelming consensus” of scientists, of course.

    Then, in all subsequent biology textbooks, one could describe how a simple, gooey protoplasm “appeared,” which then “must have” evolved a primitive cell wall in response to light. And we’re off to the Darwin sweepstakes! 😉

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    If you ever wondered how the biological world could have arisen from random events and a few simple natural laws …

    The very idea is preposterous.

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    Elizabeth,

    What a magnificent own goal!

    Really? So, what’s important in Science is to score goals and avoid own-goals. Right?

    It seems to me what Cornelius is saying makes sense, regardless of the interpretation or implications.

  10. 10
    MrMosis says:

    Queries @ 7: Awesome comment! You can definitely see the big picture of what is really going on. 😉

    What a brilliant idea!

    So, with intracellular structures, the analogous solution would be to simply define the exploding complexity that’s being discovered as “protoplasm” and call it good. Oh, and you’d need to cap it with an “overwhelming consensus” of scientists, of course.

    Then, in all subsequent biology textbooks, one could describe how a simple, gooey protoplasm “appeared,” which then “must have” evolved a primitive cell wall in response to light. And we’re off to the Darwin sweepstakes! 😉

    In regards to BA77’s comment on quantum electrodynamics:

    In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored.

    This reminds me of a conclusion I have come to. There are no electrons. This is no electron. That is, the electron under consideration is not an autonomous entity in and of itself. The electron (to the degree that it really exists like we think it does) exists only in the context of and in relation to the entirety of the rest of the physical universe. So it is no wonder that it can not be wholly described in any final or complete way… at least not by us.

    It seems quanta are only quantized within a limited perspective and context afterall.

  11. 11

    Mung:

    Really? So, what’s important in Science is to score goals and avoid own-goals. Right?

    No, what is important is consilience.

    It seems to me what Cornelius is saying makes sense, regardless of the interpretation or implications.

    It does make sense.

    What doesn’t is what he says here:

    It would be serendipity on steroids to say that evolution, with its limited experimental powers, designed and created a few basic components which then, as luck would have it, combined in such a way to produce far greater complexity and emergent behaviors.

    Evolution has astronomically more “experimental powers” than human designers, which is precisely why human designers actually exploit miniature evolutionary systems to solve problems for which the solution is likely to involve complex interactions.

    Evolutionary systems aren’t inhibited from exploring unpromising-looking lines of “enquiry” by very virtue of the fact that they don’t look beyond the next step. We do – we have to, because we don’t have the resources to follow every rabbit trail that turns up. Evolution does. It may be slow, but it is Vaster than Empires nonetheless.

    My position is that if a Designer was responsible for Life, she probably used an evolutionary system to design it.

  12. 12
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    No, what is important is consilience.

    ID has that whereas your position still has nothing but promissory notes.

    Evolution has astronomically more “experimental powers” than human designers,

    It does? Please provide a reference for that.

    which is precisely why human designers actually exploit miniature evolutionary systems to solve problems for which the solution is likely to involve complex interactions.

    That’s Intelligent Design Evolution, Lizzie.

    I know that you think all evolution = darwinism or neo-darwinism, but you are sadly mistaken.

    My position is that if a Designer was responsible for Life, she probably used an evolutionary system to design it.

    If she used evolution then it is a given that she used Intelligent Design Evolution and not blind watchmaker evolution. Natural selection canot design anything.

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    For whereas man-made machines may have a great number of components, these machines are specifically designed to limit the number of interactions. The components only interact with a small number of other components and a matrix describing these interactions would be very sparse. Not so for many biological systems.

    What a magnificent own goal!

    Please explain, if you can, exactly how that is an “own goal”.

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    There’s not much I can add to your observations, Joe, except maybe two points:

    Conscilience now seems to mean choosing experimental values that agree with expected results, as is done in calibrating C-14 tests, dating fossils using geology and vice versa, and ignoring or redefining dissonant data. Conscilience is exciting and compelling, but is also a significant source of experimental bias.

    Evolution has astronomically more “experimental powers” than human designers, which is precisely why human designers actually exploit miniature evolutionary systems to solve problems for which the solution is likely to involve complex interactions.

    Wow, talk about an own-goal! That’s exactly why studying complex biological systems using an ID paradigm is “astronomically” superior to a paradigm that assumes it’s all random junk.

    So, from a utilitarian perspective, Elizabeth, regardless of what you believe or don’t believe about God, if you truly stand behind your statement above, then welcome to ID! 🙂 See it’s not so bad after all!

  15. 15

    I’ve said for years that evolution is a highly intelligent system. I just don’t think it’s an intentional system. Indeed I think that it is its very lack of being able to “see” beyond the next step that makes it so much more thorough an explorer of what would to us seem unpromising lines of enquiry.

    However, it is also limited by that lack of foresight – it cannot transpose solutions from one lineage into another.

    So I’d say it is both far more intelligent than we are, but also lacking in some key skills, which are those that make us much faster designers, and able to utilise far fewer “experimental resources”.

    But with a lot less ingenuity as a result.

    But where I really am an “IDer” – and possibly more than many people, although I think a few agree with me – is that I do think there is a clear signature of something like “intelligence” that is detectable in certain phenomena. I just don’t think it is the signature of intentional intelligence, so if “intelligence” intrinsically implies “intention”, then I am not an IDer. If it simply implies “can devise enormously ingenious solutions to the problem of how to persist in an environment full of resources and threats”, then I am.

    And yes, it’s not so bad 🙂

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: The following recent video upload has some thought provoking thoughts/implications at the cutting edge of science:

    Pick Two: The Big Bang, Naturalism, Physicalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBi65O-gTPU

    a few related notes

    Photons and Phonons
    Excerpt: You see, the primary Planck-Law (E=hf) is metaphysical and independent on the inertia distribution of the solid states.,,,
    Both, photon and phonon carry massequivalent energy m=E/c2=hf/c2.
    The matter-light interaction so is rendered electromagnetically noninertial for the photon and becomes acoustically inertial for the phonons; both however subject to Bose-Einstein stochastic wave mechanics incorporative the Planck-Law.,,
    Where, how and why does E=hf correctly and experimentally verifiably describe the quantum mechanics of energy propagation?,,,
    http://www.tonyb.freeyellow.com/id135.html

    Phonon
    Excerpt: In physics, a phonon,, represents an excited state in the quantum mechanical quantization of the modes of vibrations,,
    The name phonon,, translates as sound or voice because long-wavelength phonons give rise to sound.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonon

    semi related: Sound waves precisely position nanowires – June 19. 2013
    Excerpt: The smaller components become, the more difficult it is to create patterns in an economical and reproducible way, according to an interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers who, using sound waves, can place nanowires in repeatable patterns for potential use in a variety of sensors, optoelectronics and nanoscale circuits.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-p.....wires.html

    The Deep Connection Between Sound & Reality – Evan Grant – Allosphere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4672092

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    #11: Elizabeth, are you positing that the term should not be mimetics, but evomimetics? That would be a splendid idea, wouldn’t it. If only quantum mechanics could prove as tractable.

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    #12: ‘If she used evolution then it is a given that she used Intelligent Design Evolution and not blind watchmaker evolution. Natural selection cannot design anything.’

    Steady on, Joe! Natural selection can always ‘blue-print’ things. A chap was only saying that the other day.

    Anyway, the very term, ‘selection’ implies ‘discrimination, ergo, mind and purpose, ergo ‘design’.

  19. 19
    Axel says:

    Imagine. Elizabeth versus Cornelius!

  20. 20
    Axel says:

    ‘ a clear signature of something like “intelligence” that is detectable in certain phenomena. I just don’t think it is the signature of intentional intelligence, so if “intelligence” intrinsically implies “intention”, then I am not an IDer. If it simply implies “can devise enormously ingenious solutions to the problem of how to persist in an environment full of resources and threats”, then I am.’

    Just what Dawkins was saying about everything appearing to be designed… I expect what prompted the uniquely thoroughgoing investigation of Nature within our Christian civilisation, was a willingness to accept that things just appeared to be intelligently designed, and to work on that basis, while not being fooled into thinking they actually had been.

    I see…. Now, that is ingenious, I have to grant you.

    Intelligence necessarily entails volition and personhood, Elizabeth.

  21. 21
    Breckmin says:

    #15

    I’ve said for years that evolution is a highly intelligent system. I just don’t think it’s an intentional system.

    What part of the system specifically is it that makes it intelligent to you?

    If it is the mechanics of protein synthesis and mutation or the observed biogenesis, common ancestry and observed natural selection that we see throughout our lifetime(s) then how do you know if you’re really talking about evolution? or just principles we see in creation?

    IOW, is it universal common descent that makes it an intelligent system? Or is it what is observable?

  22. 22

    No one part, Breckmin. It’s the fact that the system as a whole is an excellent optimizer, capable of exploring a vast range of multi-dimensional lines of enquiry.

    Universal common descent isn’t the only possible outcome. There may have been more than one initial population, but we only know of one that did not end in total extinction. Maybe we’ll find another somewhere one day!

  23. 23
    Querius says:

    Elizabeth,

    A cogent answer and a refreshing change from people who answer before finishing reading. Thank you.

    What you’re saying, which I agree with, is that there are two forms of ID:

    o The blind watchmaker. This form of ID is a utilitarian paradigm in that when we assume that the systems we study are designed and purposeful, we are more likely to discover things and advance Science. I personally feel that the mechanism of evolution is inadequate in this regard, and that there will likely be another mechanism discovered that facilitates transfer of large chunks of genetic information. For example, consider the genome of the Platypus.

    o The sentient creator. This is the one you’re not sure about, which I understand and appreciate. While I do believe in a incredibly sentient, loving creator God, there are no shortcuts. I believe God used nature to create more nature, and tuned the entire system. Science to me is a gift box from God with a wonderful puzzle inside!

    Your scientific endeavors will be identical in either case, which is why it’s not so bad. 🙂

  24. 24
    Breckmin says:

    #22

    You were supposed to choose between observable and non-falsifiable scientific theory… instead you dodged the bullet by choosing everything as a part of the whole enchilada…

    How are we supposed to back you into a corner on distinctions (to make our point) if you don’t take the bait?

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    I’ve said for years that evolution is a highly intelligent system.

    I’ve said for years that your thinking is muddled. You seem to agree.

    I’m sure you thought you were responding to me, and probably should have responded to me since I claimed the very idea that you are so in love with is preposterous, but you were not responding to me.

    Care to try again?

  26. 26
    Mung says:

    Axel @19,

    Elizabeth vs Elizabeth is more entertaining.

  27. 27
    Breckmin says:

    # 22 Elizabeth Little

    …the system as a whole is an excellent optimizer, capable of exploring a vast range of multi-dimensional lines of enquiry.

    …excellent optimizer…exploring…lines of inquiry..

    It is almost as if you are thinking of this mechanism of nature as a cognitive being..that explores, inquires and practically “thinks.” I know you were just being descriptive in this sentence – but what makes you believe that “something” would happen to inorganic substances without a Creator rather than “nothing” (inorganic matter just in its normal motions like we normally observe). What makes you think information would evolve?

    I apologize if my earlier comment was sort of daft joking around (about taking bait). I know you are erudite and have studied this subject more than I (I’ve read several of your other posts now), however – with all of your posts – I am still having trouble understanding why you believe that teleonomy is not an evasive deceptive term to replace teleology? Regardless of the etymology, I’m referring to the end result and now application of its usage.

    Perhaps I am still just baiting you with abiogenesis and information theory…but you seem like a reasonable person… so why the belief that this could all happen without a guiding cause (Creator?/Sustainer?)

  28. 28
    Breckmin says:

    #27 sorry for the “Little” (I’ll get it right next time)

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