Did we miss it? From 2015:
Does the universe embody beautiful ideas?
Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry—harmony, balance, proportion—and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe—and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.
Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, the ancient Greek who was the first to argue that “all things are number,” to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentieth century physics. Though the ancients weren’t right about everything, their ardent belief in the music of the spheres has proved true down to the quantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just how intertwined our ideas about beauty and art are with our scientific understanding of the cosmos. More.
Really, there needs to be a respectful discussion:
1. Could human beings in fact know if the universe shows evidence of design? Or are our brains shaped for fitness, not truth? Does everyone who says they believe that want to follow it through to its logical implications?
2. If evidence matters, what counts as evidence, what doesn’t? Or should we move in the direction of non-evidence-based science? We could quite easily confirm the pop science view of reality instead, and a great many people would be happy and prosperous. And still dim.
See also: Second layer of information in DNA?
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4 Replies to “When did design in nature stop being a swear word?”
Isn’t “design in nature” a relatively recent swear word? A meme that has stunted scientific understanding. Good to see science getting back on the right track. Physics leading the way as they try hard to break their “standard model”. Biology holding back as they try to defend their standard model. Much of biology seems to be cargo cult science doesn’t it?
Perspectives on theory at the interface of physics and biology
Biology is more theoretical than physics
Models in biology: ‘accurate descriptions of our pathetic thinking’
Theory in Biology: Figure 1 or Figure 7?
“Understanding the protein circuits that perform computations within the cell is a central problem in biology.”
Uri Alon Lab – Design Principles in Biology.
2014 Systems Biology course by Uri Alon
Lecture 1: Basic concepts
[Please, note the time marks given here are grossly approximate]
Goal: Central idea of the class – it gives unity to the discussed topic.
Complex biological systems can be understood using design principles which can unify different systems in a mathematical framework.
it’s up to him to be clear and up to the students to tell him when he’s not.
Suggested textbook: An introduction to Systems Biology: design principles of biological systems.
Here’s a very interesting part of professor Alon’s first lecture in the referenced course:
Very early in his first lecture, at the time mark 2:30, he introduces himself to his students.
He said he has been a professor at that institute 14 years (the lecture seems to be from 2014). He worked for a PhD in Physics, hence he was used to systems obeying very precise mathematical laws. Then a friend gave him a biology textbook and it was like a shock for him. He said it was like reading a thriller, because he saw this matter that was behaving completely different than what he was used to: [it was] dancing, amazing structures created and then destroyed almost magically, working very precisely under very strong thermodynamic noise and I had to find out how this works.
That personal event changed his academic and scientific career radically. Apparently he did a post-doc in biology at Princeton University?
At the time mark 43:20 professor Alon apparently said that everything in biology is an invitation to a question. [whatever that means]
Systems biology course (2014) by Professor Uri Alon – lecture 2
@time mark 20:45 the professor says “evolution designed…”
Systems biology course (2014) by Professor Uri Alon – lecture 4: Absolute robustness
@time mark 8:50 he writes on the board:
Robustness: Biological circuits are designed
then he paused to clarify that by “designed” in this case he meant that evolution did it (or something like that) – a quick disclaimer for damage control?
Here’s a link to the video of that lecture: