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This just in: Physicist solves meaning of life…again

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From big think:

MIT Physicist Proposes New “Meaning of Life”

MIT physicist Jeremy England claims that life may not be so mysterious after all, despite the fact it is apparently derived from non-living matter. In a new paper, England explains how simple physical laws make complex life more likely than not. In other words, it would be more surprising to find no life in the universe than a buzzing place like planet Earth.

Excuse me, but we currently have a sample size of 1.

What does all matter—rocks, plants, animals, and humans—have in common? We all absorb and dissipate energy. While a rock absorbs a small amount of energy before releasing what it doesn’t use back into the universe, life takes in more energy and releases less. This makes life better at redistributing energy, and the process of converting and dissipating energy is simply a fundamental characteristic of the universe.

The strength of England’s theory is that it provides an underlying physical basis for Darwin’s theory of evolution and helps explain some evolutionary tendencies that evolution cannot. Adaptations that don’t clearly benefit a species in terms of survivability can be explained thusly: “the reason that an organism shows characteristic X rather than Y may not be because X is more fit than Y, but because physical constraints make it easier for X to evolve than for Y to evolve.” More.

So there is no current underlying physical basis for Darwin’s theory? As in natural selection as the single greatest idea ever invented? But it has no physical basis?

Thank you, Jeremy England. We had begun to suspect that, actually.

There seems something almost corrupt about this kind of thing.* They are trying to get around facing up to something, the enigma of information, for a start.

But, as a writer once put it:

“My name is used-to-was; I am also called played-out and done-to-death, and it-will-wash-no-more.”

We ran into Jeremy England last year:

Does this physicist have a groundbreaking idea about why life exists?

Sure. Why not? There are hundreds of them out there.

Here or below, Jeremy England sees life as a drive to expend more energy.

Friend Mark Fitzmaurice writes,

I just watched this video of his talk. I suggest you do not waste your time on it. I find it hard to believe that people can take this guy seriously. More.

Well, readers can watch his prev talk and decide.

He also claims to have a math formula that explains it all, with Darwinian evolution as a special case.

At the time, physicist Rob Sheldon weighed in on the thesis, on the power of self-promotion:

Ummm, this is more a case of English homonyms than a case of scientific discovery. And in fact, it isn’t at all obvious that life actually wants maximum entropy production. For example, it may take a week for bacteria to munch through all the sugar in the soup, perhaps months to munch through the oil, but it is a matter of seconds to set fire to the oil and sugar once the water is evaporated. To keep that from happening, the bacteria secrete scum and goo to keep the water from evaporating. So life actually tries to avoid catastrophic entropy production and violates MEPP!

But don’t tell them that until after you get them a dictionary.

England is looking for something that doesn’t exist: Life that behaves like rocks. There’s a market for that. There’s a market for lucky rabbits’ feet too.

Sheldon writes today to say,

I don’t know why he keeps getting these puff journo postings–perhaps because he doesn’t have tenure yet. (Forgive me. I’m just an old cynic.) That’s because everything he says is in Ilya Prigogine’s work from the early 70’s. I don’t really understand why it is now being recycled except perhaps as fodder for the “new Darwinian” synthesis we are all holding our breath for. That is to say, if Prigogine’s Nobel Prize really was deserved, we should all be reaping the benefits of non-equilibrium stat mech right now, but apparently it never panned out. So why doesn’t England acknowledge the basis of his work, and demonstrate why it is solving the problem Prigogine didn’t? Something doesn’t add up.

England’s popularity says more about the state of pop science writing than about the state of physics or biology.

Of course, if the “new Darwinian” synthesis ever shows up, we’ll give it some air. Right now, it looks like the New Evolution Synthesis has sailed, and Darwin isn’t on the passenger list.

Maybe he’ll board from the pilot boat, just before the ship heads out into open water… Stay tuned.

See also: What we know about origin of life at your fingertips

*John Horgan thinks that way about the multiverse, incidentally.

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"Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists." - Professor John Lennox, Oxford, UK. Dionisio
Oh, not this same tired old thing again...see this paper from 2008: "Natural Selection for Least Action" by Ville R. I. Kaila and Arto Annila, Proceedings of the Royal Society A (2008) 464, 3055-3070. Every so often, someone trots this concept out and tries to get some more miles out of it...sigh... EDTA
How life ultimately derives 'meaning' from entropy is that Jesus Christ overcame the deadly destructive force of entropy/gravity in his resurrection from the dead.
Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images. https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847 THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox. http://shroud3d.com/findings/isabel-piczek-image-formation Turin shroud – (Particle Physicist explains event horizon) – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHVUGK6UFK8
Verses and Music:
Acts 13:37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Colossians 1:15-20 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Creed - Six Feet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ9GrZ3CEyY
Of supplemental note. I thought atheists claimed that the universe and life in particular had no 'meaning'?
"In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life "Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning." CS Lewis – Mere Christianity
as to this claim from the article:
"According to England, the second law of thermodynamics gives life its meaning. The law states that entropy, i.e. decay, will continuously increase."
I agree that entropy has a big part in ultimately giving life 'meaning', but it is a 'meaning' for life that is certainly not derived in the way that England believes entropy gives meaning to life. Contrary to what England has fooled himself and others into believing about complex life being more likely than not because of entropy, the fact of the matter is that entropy guarantees complex life will never 'emerge' from non-life. Professor Harold Morowitz shows the Origin of Life 'problem' escalates dramatically over the oft cited 1 in 10^40,000 figure when working from a thermodynamic perspective:
"The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!" (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)
Dr. Morowitz did another probability calculation working from the thermodynamic perspective with an already existing cell and came up with this number:
DID LIFE START BY CHANCE? Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias) http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html Punctured cell will never reassemble - Jonathan Wells - 2:40 mark of video https://youtu.be/WKoiivfe_mo?t=159
Moreover, besides entropy NOT making complex life more likely than not, and in direct contradiction to England's claim that entropy is conducive for life, entropy is the reason why all life on earth grows old and dies.
Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both - 2007 Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,, http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pgen.0030220
This following video, and article, brings the point home to us, personally, about the effects of entropy on our bodies:
Aging Process - 85 years in 40 seconds - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A91Fwf_sMhk The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings - Stephen L. Talbott - 2010 Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary. ,,, the question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer? Despite the countless processes going on in the cell, and despite the fact that each process might be expected to “go its own way” according to the myriad factors impinging on it from all directions, the actual result is quite different. Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-unbearable-wholeness-of-beings
In fact, far from entropy ever being a creative force that makes 'complex life more likely than not', entropy is in fact found to be the most deadly and destructive force in the universe.
Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! – January 2010 Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/evolution-is-a-fact-just-like-gravity-is-a-fact-uhoh/ Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010 Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated. http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe “Einstein’s equation predicts that, as the astronaut reaches the singularity (of the black-hole), the tidal forces grow infinitely strong, and their chaotic oscillations become infinitely rapid. The astronaut dies and the atoms which his body is made become infinitely and chaotically distorted and mixed-and then, at the moment when everything becomes infinite (the tidal strengths, the oscillation frequencies, the distortions, and the mixing), spacetime ceases to exist.” Kip S. Thorne – “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” pg. 476

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