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thermodynamics and information

From Evolution News: Prigogine’s Self-Organization vs. Specified Biological Complexity

Self-organization, exemplified in "dissipative structures" (Prigogine), which can arise in systems maintained far from thermodynamic equilibrium, result in a decrease in information and do not constitute a natural explanation of information-rich biological systems. Read More ›

At Evolution News: Rosenhouse’s Whoppers: The Environment as a Source of Information

William Dembski writes: I am responding again to Jason Rosenhouse about his book The Failures of Mathematical Anti-Evolutionism. See my earlier posts here and here. In Rosenhouse’s book, he claims that “natural selection serves as a conduit for transmitting environmental information into the genomes of organisms.” (p. 215) I addressed this claim briefly in my review, indicating that conservation of information shows it to be incomplete and inadequate, but essentially I referred him to technical work by me and colleagues on the topic. In his reply, he remains, as always, unpersuaded. So let me here give another go at explaining the role of the environment as a source of information for Darwinian evolution. As throughout this response, I’m addressing the unwashed middle. Darwinian evolution depends on Read More ›

Article by David Snoke: Spontaneous Appearance of Life and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Dr. Snoke's recent article, published in Biocosmos, dives into the important topic of the link between the 2nd law of thermodynamics, information theory, and living systems. He explores the notion of physical law, similar to the 2nd law, that applies to information, and concludes that "there is a fundamental entropy problem with the origin of life." Read More ›

FOR REFERENCE: Globular Cluster M55 as illustrating apparent aging of our galaxy (& cosmos)

It seems helpful to illustrate cosmological scale apparent aging as stars depart main sequence: An idealised, Hertzsprung-Russell chart for Hydrogen-rich balls prone to become fusion furnaces is: Here is a comparative plot (for open clusters), constructing a “clock” by projected pattern as a cluster ages, in effect seeing what is left as a candle burns down: This can be taken as illustrative of how our cosmos shows entropy-associated aging on the grand scale. Further illustrative, here is a NASA-derived cosmological timeline model, integrated with fine tuning: Speaking of fine tuning, Barnes et al summarise: All of this ties to core thermodynamics: Food for thought. END

Time’s arrow, the design inference on FSCO/I and the one root of a complex world-order (–> Being, logic & first principles, 25)

On August 7th, News started a discussion on time’s arrow (which ties to the second law of thermodynamics). I found an interesting comment by FF: FF, 4: >> It’s always frustrating to read articles on time’s arrow or time travel. In one camp, we have the Star Trek physics fanatics who believe in time travel in any direction. In the other camp, we have those who believe only in travel toward the future. But both camps are wrong. It is logically impossible for time to change at all, in any direction. We are always in the present, a continually changing present. This is easy to prove. Changing time is self-referential. Changing time (time travel) would require a velocity in time Read More ›

AI, state/configuration space search and the ID search challenge

In his well-known work, No Free Lunch, p. 11, ID Researcher William A Dembski has illustrated the search challenge concept in terms of an arrow hitting a target amidst a reference class of possibilities. In so doing, he reaches back to the statistical mechanical and mathematical concept of a phase space “cut down” to address configurations only (leaving out momentum), aka state space.  He then goes on to speak in terms of probabilities, observing: >>. . . in determining whether an event is sufficiently improbable or complex to implicate design, the relevant probability is not that of the event [= E] itself. In the archery example, that probability corresponds to the size of the arrowhead point in relation to the Read More ›

A Maxwell Demon engine in action beyond the Carnot/ “standard” Second law limit

Maxwell’s Demon (sometimes, “Max”) has long been a fictional device for discussing how if we have access to information we can manipulate molecular scale particles to extract work. Now, physics dot org is discussing a case: >>Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine’s efficiency is bounded by a recently proposed generalized second law of thermodynamics, and it is the first information engine to approach this new bound . . . . [R]ecent experimental demonstrations of information engines have raised the question of whether there is an upper bound on the efficiency with which an information engine can convert information into work. Read More ›

What is “information”?

Information, of course, is notoriously a concept that has many senses of meaning. As it is central to the design inference, let us look (again) at defining it. We can dispose of one sense right off, Shannon was not directly interested in information but in information-carrying capacity; that is why his metric will peak for a truly random signal, which has as a result minimal redundancy. And, we can also see that the bit measure commonly seen in ICT circles or in our PC memories etc, is actually this measure, 1 k bit is 1,024 = 2^10 binary digits of storage or transmission capacity. One binary digit or bit being a unit of information storing one choice between a pair Read More ›

Upright Biped’s summary on information systems in cell based life

UD participant Upright Biped (of Complexity Cafe U/D: Biosemiosis) has commented recently in the what is knowledge thread, replying to frequent objector CR by summarising key aspects of the role of information systems in observed cell based life. His remarks are well worth headlining: __________________ UB, 195: >>We can start by summarizing the core physical requirements of the system we are trying to explain: an autonomous self-replicator with open-ended potential (i.e. it can describe itself or any variation of itself). The system requires: 1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information. 2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented. 3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. Read More ›

UD Guest Post: Dr Eugen S on the second law of thermodynamics (plus . . . ) vs. “evolution”

Our Physicist and Computer Scientist from Russia — and each element of that balance is very relevant — is back, with more.  MOAR, in fact. This time, he tackles the “terror-fitted depths” of thermodynamics and biosemiotics. (NB: Those needing a backgrounder may find an old UD post here and a more recent one here, helpful.) More rich food for thought for the science-hungry masses, red hot off the press: _________________ >>On the Second Law of Thermodynamics in the context of the origin of life Rudolf Clausius (1822-1888) This note was motivated by my discussions with Russian interlocutors. One of UD readers here has asked me to produce a summary of those discussions, which I am happy to do now. I Read More ›

BTB: Points to ponder as we look at Crick’s understanding of DNA as text, since March 19, 1953

A few days back, I headlined a clip from Crick’s letter to his son Michael, March 19, 1953: The main text is accessible here (with page scans). Sans diagrams: >>My Dear Michael, Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. for short. You may remember that the genes of the chromosomes — which carry the hereditary factors — are made up of protein and D.N.A. Our structure is very beautiful. D.N.A. can be thought of roughly as a very long chain with flat bits sticking out. The flat bits are called the “bases”. […] Now we have two of these chains winding Read More ›

Following up Bostrom’s argument from simulation of universes . . .

That is, why inferring design on functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, e.g.: and equally: . . . makes good sense. Now, overnight, UD’s Newsdesk posted on a Space dot com article, Is Our Universe a Fake? The article features “Philosopher Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University.” I think Bostrom’s argument raises a point worth pondering, one oddly parallel to the Boltzmann brain popping up by fluctuation from an underlying sea of quantum chaos argument, as he discusses “richly detailed software simulation[s] of people, including their historical predecessors, by a very technologically advanced civilization”: >>Bostrom is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show Read More ›

Should ID supporters argue in terms of thermodynamics or information or [“basic . . . “] probability?

In the still active discussion thread on failure of compensation arguments, long term maverick ID (and, I think, still YEC-sympathetic) supporter SalC comments: SalC, 570:    . . .  I’ve argued against using information theory type arguments in defense of ID, it adds way too much confusion. Basic probability will do the job, and basic probability is clear and unassailable. The mutliplicities of interest to ID proponents don’t vary with temperature, whereas the multiplicities from a thermodynamic perspective change with temperature. I find that very problematic for invoking 2LOT in defense of ID. Algorithmically controlled metabolisms (such as realized in life) are low multiplicity constructs as a matter of principle. They are high in information content. But why add more jargon Read More ›

Failure of the “compensation argument” and implausibility of evolution

Granville Sewell and Daniel Styer have a thing in common: both wrote an article with the same title “Entropy and evolution”. But they reach opposite conclusions on a fundamental question: Styer says that the evolutionist “compensation argument” (henceforth “ECA”) is ok, Sewell says it isn’t. Here I briefly explain why I fully agree with Granville. The ECA is an argument that tries to resolve the problems the 2nd law of statistical mechanics (henceforth 2nd_law_SM) posits to unguided evolution. I adopt Styer’s article as ECA archetype because he also offers calculations, which make clearer its failure. The 2nd_law_SM as problem for evolution. The 2nd_law_SM says that a isolated system goes toward its more probable macrostates. In this diagram the arrow represents Read More ›