COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2005 - Replies Index - Prev | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle — George Orwell, 1946.

Replies to Cosmic Ancestry, 2004

questionable citation
Sun, 19 Dec 2004 21:40:52 -0500
from Dan Eisenberg

Bruce,

I was just looking over your webpage (http//www.panspermia.org/oseti.htm#refs) and trying to get a feel for the case it is promoting. Following up on one of the links I was disappointed at youíre your interpretation of it. You say, "Later, the same group found fossils that were undisputably (sic) biological in other Mars meteorites (2)." While the cited document seems to conclude "Nakhla contains variable concentrations of tiny round to ovoid objects which can plausibly be interpreted as bacterial cells in various states of mineralization." ... http//www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/LPSC99/pdf/1816.pdf

Undisputable and plausible are a lot different.

Are I misinterpreting something?

.dan

Dear Dan --

I must now admit that the case is disputable.

In defense of what I wrote, I felt at the time that the case was certain, based on all of my reading, not just this citation. (Now, I still think the fossils are real evidence of past life on Mars, although disputable.)

You're right, McKay et al. do not claim the case is [in]disputable. I don't explicitly say they do, but by citing them I imply it.

Other meteorites, not from Mars, do contain fosssils that are, now, unquestionably biological.

The primary dispute about them is not over their biological nature (all I was claiming for these fossils), but whether they are indigenous. That dispute I do mention in my article.

I also mention counter evidence on my primary page about the martian meteorites, under "WhatsNEW ALH84001" there: http//www.panspermia.org/marslife.htm#whatsnewb. This section also points to some of my other sources about the Mars meteorites.

FWIW, the case for the biological nature of the lunar fossils mentioned next in the article turns out to be extremely weak. Photos that were published subsequently show that impact craters can mimic the most striking form seen in the sample from the Soviet Luna program -- http//www.panspermia.org/zhmur2.htm

Thank you for your close reading and fact-checking. In the instance you mention, I did not distinguish clearly between my own certainty and others'. I welcome your further comments on the website....

Best regards. Brig
---
Brig Klyce / Astrobiology Research Trust / http//www.panspermia.org/art.htm

Panspermia Asks New Questions is the related CA webpage.


FW: [evol-psych] Article: Marine worm sports two kinds of 'eyes'
Mon, 01 Nov 2004 15:40:40 -0600
from Stan Franklin

Brig, Please tell me again why the eye isnít an example of macroscopic evolution, or donít you believe Darwinís account. ...Stan
--
Stan Franklin / Institute for Intelligent Systems / The University of Memphis

Marine worm sports two kinds of 'eyes', by Emma Marris, News@Nature.com, 28 Oct 2004.

From Brig Klyce / 03:42 PM 11/2/2004

Dear Stan, Many thanks for your persistent questioning, and thanks for your pointer to the article about a worm with vertebrate-type photoreceptors. I have read the article carefully.

In cosmic ancestry I am proposing a major amendment to darwinism, but first let me list some things that both theories agree about:

  1. Natural selection can cause changes that optimize features for specific environments. An example is color vision: the peak frequency can be optimized within a narrow range by very few Ė sometimes only one Ė nucleotide substitution. Adaptive- or even directed mutation can perhaps target the mutation process.
  2. Natural selection can also effect microevolution by changing allele frequencies.
  3. Random mutations can change a surface protein and give a bacterium or virus a new disguise; immune systems can often decode new disguises.
  4. Bacteria acquire new properties primarily by gene transfer. BTW, this is a big, unnoticed paradigm shift within darwinism.
  5. Eukaryotes can acquire new genetic programs by gene transfer. Mechanisms include hybridism, symbiosis, bacterial infection and viral infection. Known examples of programs acquired by transfer include photosynthesis and the vertebrate immune system.
But now let me say the difference: darwinism holds that genetic programs can be composed de novo by mutation and recombination on recycled genetic material. I think this doesnít happen. I have a profound belief in the entropy law: things go downhill only. (Discussed perhaps too much on http://www.panspermia.org/seconlaw.htm.)

In cosmic ancestry, eukaryotes acquire new genetic programs by gene transfer only. (Where the programs come from "in the first place" is a separate question. I deal with it on my webpage, at http://www.panspermia.org/thebegin.htm, for example.)

On my website I propose several ways to distinguish between the two theories. (See especially http://www.panspermia.org/threetests.htm.) Closed-system tests in biology are best. If darwinism is sufficient, open-ended macroevolutionary progress should emerge from such tests. Cosmic ancestry expects closed systems to yield only microevolution with a definite, very low ceiling on any apparent progress.

If biology is too slow, closed-system tests in computer models are next-best.

Third-best is reconstructing the past genomically, to which the article pertains. Arendt et al. admit a weakness of this third-best method by writing:

...thus any feature specifically shared between them as a result of their common evolutionary heritage necessarily existed in Urbilateria, the last common ancestor of all animals with bilateral symmetry. (Emphasis added)

The shared feature may also result from gene transfer, but that possibility is subsequently ignored.

Anyway, using this method, as one looks farther into the past one should observe (1) that the genetic program of interest has been gradually constructed, if darwinism is sufficient. Cosmic ancestry, however, predicts that ancestral species will possess either (2) a very similar genetic program, or (3) nothing like it. (See especially http://www.panspermia.org/graphspaper.htm.) Furthermore, because gene transfer is ubiquitous, (4) a very similar genetic program may show up in an unrelated species.

In my opinion, Arendt et al. observe either case (2) or (4), if the worm and vertebrates are related, or not, respectively. There is no support for case (1), namely, that the genetic program for the opsin was gradually composed. Rather,

These findings unambiguously identify Platynereis c-opsin as a vertebrate-type ciliary opsin....

Arendt et al. confirm again that the opsin program is first observed with its final identity (different from the insect version). They speculate that it later underwent modest adaptation in vertebrates, and this would be possible under both theories:

We propose that polychaete and vertebrate ciliary PRCs are homologous cell types (18) (i.e., they evolved from the same precursor cell type in Urbilateria). The ciliary PRCs are conserved across Bilateria and are distinct from the rhabdomeric PRCs. In the vertebrate lineage, the ciliary PRCs diversified into a population of ciliary "deep brain photoreceptors" located in the ventral forebrain, the pineal PRCs, and the rods and cones of the retina (19) (Fig. 3E).

They ultimately speculate that the even insect and vertebrate opsins have a common source. The unguided evolution of one gene into two would count in favor of darwnism, if the two are different enough. I donít know if they are. Even so, without evidence for intermediate steps, the case would be weak and inferential.

Darwinian research diligently seeks examples of the evolution of new genetic programs from recycled DNA, but solid, convincing examples arenít turning up. Meanwhile, examples of new genetic programs acquired by gene transfer continue to accumulate. (See especially http://www.panspermia.org/virus.htm and links under "WhatísNEW" there.)

I believe that the expression "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," if it has any validity, should be applied to the darwinian account of new genetic programs. Closed-system tests could provide such evidence. So far they donít.

Thanks again for your interest. Best regards, Brig
________
Brig Klyce / Astrobiology Research Trust

21 Nov 2004: "Vertebrate photoreceptor cells in a primitive invertebrate" is the related What'sNEW item.


Comet talk 10/29/04
Mon, 25 Oct 2004 13:18:58 -0500
from Rob Sheldon

Dear Brig,

I work in the same building as Richard Hoover, who presented his results on bio-fossils at the Aug 4 meeting you reported. I believe he's working on getting a consensus of experts together before going "public" with those results, but in the meantime, I started trying to (dis)prove his thesis that in order for biofossils to exist, there had to be liquid water on comets. Before I knew it, I had found a surprising amount of corroborating evidence for liquid water on comets. At first, it had all the impact of a new discovery, I was really excited. Now I'm starting to find that many people have proposed this before, it has just been an unpopular theory. I'll be giving a talk on it at the NSSTC this Friday, and you may get the PowerPoint slides after that date from their website, I believe. In a nutshell, the argument is that many strange dynamical behaviors of comets can be understood if we permit them to contain liquid water. And in fact, recent satellite photos almost require it.

Now let me deal with panspermia a bit. I'm a big Intelligent Design fan, since, as you state, the support for Darwinian evolution is pretty out-of-date and self-contradictory. I think Hoyle's estimate of 1:10^40,000 is as reasonable as anyone's guess as to the likelihood of spontaneous generation. But unlike Hoyle, I also am a big fan of Big Bang cosmology, with its 13.7 billion year universe. Hoyle was an interesting character, stringently following the observations of organic molecules in space, but ignoring the observations of Big Bang. As much as I admire Hoyles conter-cultural stance, I cannot but notice that metaphysics is inextricably linked to physics. Hoyle couldn't accept Big Bang, not because of the observations, rather in spite of them, but because his earlier commitment to materialism. Personally, I think scientists should be able to subject their metaphysics to scrutiny just as much as their physics. Alas, this seems to be a very poor area of our modern educational system, with very few people schooled in both. But I ramble.

So comets can have water, bio-fossils, and life spread throughout the solar system. This is a big savings for NASA since it won't need to sterilize spacecraft and use quarantine for sample-and-return missions. It will be a letdown for the biologists, because the life we find on Mars will be indistinguishable from the life found on Earth. It will even give the Gaia people conniption fits, since Mars never became habitable despite the presence of life. Panspermia people will get excited, but alas, we will probably never find evidence for life outside our solar system to test the theories. (I'm skeptical that Hoyle's identification of diatoms in the Trifid Nebulae will stand the test of time.) Nor does this answer the fundamental question that Hoyle posed, "where did life come from?", since the 1:10^40,000 number is hardly affected at all if we include all the warm ponds on Mars, Eurpopa, and Halley. Even if we assume every star in our galaxy has warm ponds and infected comets, this would knock off at most 9 or 10 zeroes from Hoyle's number for the probability of spontaneous generation, which is to say, no effect at all. So whether I adopt panspermia or not, I still haven't solved the origin of life problem. That's why I'm a big ID fan.

Here's the math:
Probabilty of one spontaneous generation = 1 / infinity
Number of locations where this could occur = # warm ponds in Universe
Amount of time available = 13.7 billion years
Probability of Evolution to Humans = 1 / infinity
====================================================
Probability of Humans Existing = 1

In probability theory, the final probablity is the product of all the previous. Those two small numbers, which are so small as to defy quantification, is a doubly infinite improbability. Even if Hoyle had an infinite time available, he would need a doubly-infinite number there. (Mathematicians know about arithmetic of infinities. All the countable numbers is a simple infinity. But I can fit that entire infinity into the real number line between 0-1. That makes the real numbers a double infinity. And on it goes.) So to make this equation agree with observation, we need a really, really big infinity to multiply by. Which is why Neo-Darwinian Theory, with its restriction to 1 billion years on the planet Earth, is desperate not to calculate any probabilities at all. Which is what ID is all about.

- yours truly, Rob Sheldon

Evidence for Indigenous Microfossils in a Carbonaceous Meteorite is the CA webpage about Richard Hoover's recent discovery.
Comets... is a related CA webpage.
Evolution vs Creationism is a related CA webpage.


site comments
Thu, 21 Oct 2004 12:57:06 -0500
from Ken Jopp

Brig, Hi, I hope you're well and ready for more feedback on the CA site. It seems that development of the site has reached a fork in the road , with Cosmic Ancestry per se going off in one direction and horizontal gene transfer taking on a life of its own within the site.

You have posted so many "What's new" articles on horizontal gene transfer, that I can imagine a newbie to the site wondering what it all has to do with Cosmic Ancestry. If organisms are passing genes around horizontally that's fascinating and challenges neoDarwinian dogma -- but what does it have to do with outer space? Horizontal transfer doesn't mean that genes newly introduced to a species come from space, just from other species. If the scientific community embraced horizontal transfer as another mechanism of evolutionary change, it would not support nor detract from the argument that our ancestry is cosmic.

I love the site and admire your great work, but you might think about making more overt the connection between horizontal transfer and cosmic ancestry. ...Best, Ken

10:38 PM 10/28/2004, from Brig Klyce

Dear Ken -- The basic argument for panspermia arises because the origin of life is so unlikely. The hardware part is hard enough, but getting the software to work is the major problem, I firmly believe. For instance, none of the current origin-of-life literature even attempts to deal with the problem.

The software problem also exists for evolutionary advances after the origin of life. Every new feature requires new genetic programs. It would be odd if somehow this problem were to become easier as the software becomes more complicated (although that has been proposed.) If this were so, then the origin of life would be the only really big problem for the mainstream theory. But I think it is not so -- I think the software never gets easier.

In my view the role of panspermia is to provide not only the first germs of life to Earth (and other planets). It is to provide also the new genetic programs for all of the subsequent evolutionary advances. I call this version strong panspermia.

If I'm right, new genetic programs do not arise gradually, a la darwin, but must be supplied from elsewhere. Elsewhere means space. The final step in the installation of new genetic programs would be the lateral gene transfer that is now being reported. So, I say, evidence for lateral gene transfer supports strong panspermia.

(BTW, darwinian processes are adequate for variation, optimization, speciation, and a number of microevolutionary steps.)

This is a radical view. In it, highly evolved life must already exist. These views are discusse on some of the CA webpages, like

http//www.panspermia.org/intro.htm
http//www.panspermia.org/oseti.htm
http//www.panspermia.org/mechansm.htm
http//www.panspermia.org/graphspaper.htm [ps: try this one first.]

Thanks for your feedback. I would like to post this for the benefit of other readers.

21 Oct 2004: Eukaryote-to-eukaryote lateral gene transfer [the referenced What'sNEW item].
Viruses and other Gene Transfer Mechanisms is a related CA webpage.


feedback
11:52 AM 10/12/2004
from Charles Eisenstein

Dear Mr. Klyce, ...Thank you for your wonderful website. Your links and "What's New" have been a fantastic research resource for my book, The Ascent of Humanity, which is about the origins, consequences, ideology, and ultimate purpose of Separation. One of the themes is how the founding myth of our civilization---the discrete and separate self---projects onto biology, physics, religion, medicine, and law. One manifestation is the RNA-world replicator---the first "self", which I contrast with Kauffman's autocatalytic sets, of which organisms are semi-autonomous offbuddings. But of course, there is the problem, which I think you mention, that all you get in the lab when you try to simulate it is tarry gunk. That led me to Panspermia, although I think the universe's natural tendency toward order is also an important part of the puzzle.

Anyway, the main reason why Panspermia has remained marginal is that it conflicts with deep cultural assumptions about self and world. It will never be accepted purely on its scientific merits; acceptance will only come as part of a broader cultural shift.

[Klyce replies] You may be right. Meanwhile, a huge cultural divide already exists between darwinists and creationists. I have suggested that cosmic ancestry might resolve this split.

I also wanted to recommend to you Halton Arp's _Seeing Red_, which is the most exciting alternative to Big Bang theory that I've come across. Arp is a world-class astronomer whose career was ruined by his adherence to a non-standard interpretation of observed redshift. He says that recessional velocity is only a minor component of redshift; the main component is the age of matter. Young matter has higher redshift. Therefore, quasars are not super-massive, super-distant bodies moving away from us at near light-speed, but closer, smaller, and very young. His alternative model is a steady-state universe where matter is continually born from other matter (e.g. quasars from Seyfert galaxies); and it accounts not only for standard big-bang evidence such as the cosmic background radiation, but also for unexplained mysteries such as redshift quantization.

I did read _Seeing Red_, and later met Arp at a conference. Like you, I think his observations deserve far more attention than they get.

I would love it if you would consent to review the chapters of my book relating to your field, perhaps in November or December when the first draft will be complete. And thanks again for your website.

I'll be glad to look at them. Thanks for your comments.

Charles Eisenstein / Dept. of Science, Technology, and Society / Penn State University

p.s. [Wed, 13 Oct 2004 09:03:37 -0400] Oh yes, I forgot to mention another book: Quantum Evolution by Johnjoe McFadden. Maybe you've read this one too. He proposes a novel way to build teleology into evolution via the quantum zeno effect. His proposal is highly creative, but breaks down on what I perceive as a misunderstanding of decoherence. However, I think he introduces an important new approach....


life on mars?!
Mon, 23 Aug 2004 21:35:25 -0700 (PDT)
from Alan Moen

I believe I have proven a very stong case for life on Mars. I posted my research two weeks ago and I am now trying to spread the word and have it peer reviewed. Please take a look.

http://homepage.mac.com/alandmoen/moundsonmars/

Best regards, Alan Moen


"Study Finds Anti-HIV Protein Evolved Millions Of Years Before The Emergence Of AIDS"
Mon, 16 Aug 2004 14:25:40 -0400
from Jerry Chancellor

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040730090543.htm

"SEATTLE Ė A protein that the body uses to attack the AIDS virus is actually a stealthy defense mechanism that evolved 32 million years before the emergence of HIV, according to new findings from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."

"When comparing human Apobec3G genes with those of man's distantly related primate relatives, Malik and colleagues found, to their surprise, that the protein began to evolve in response to such Darwinistic pressure more than 30 million years before HIV-like viruses first infected primates, an event that occurred about a million years ago."

It seems to me that this fits very well into the "old genes" discussion. Cosmic Ancestry would predict that there is nothing new in the "genetic arms race", wouldn't it?

Jerry Chancellor / President / IT Professionals

Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? is the referenced CA webpage.


Big Bang and CA
8:31 AM -0700 7/28/04
from Douglas Early

Brig, The "What's New" item "Big bang predictions are not upheld" ( 8 July 2004) got me thinking about the problem of Big Bang cosmology in the context of Cosmic Ancestry. It seems to me that neither the Big Bang idea nor the idea of an infinite past is in harmony with CA. If the universe began in a high-temperature state incompatible with life, then the principle of "life always comes from life" doesn't hold. OTOH, if natural selection has an infinite time in which to work, then it can produce any biological feature, no matter how complex and improbable.

I wonder if you have considered a third possibility that was outlined by David Bohm and Basil J. Hiley in the book The Undivided Universe (London: Routledge, 1993). Bohm created a realist interpretation of quantum theory; he took the quantum mechanical "wavefunction," which is usually interpreted as merely a mathematical device, and assumed that it corresponds to an actually existing wave. A consequence of this view is that in the early universe, around the time when large-scale objects such as stars, planets, and galaxies began forming, macroscopic quantum effects were common. A whole planet at that time could undergo quantum interference processes that today happen only in microscopic systems. It follows that the Big Bang theory is flawed because it ignores such large-scale quantum effects.

Bohm thought that the idea of a familiar three-dimensional world described by classical physics could not be extended backward in time indefinitely, either ad infinitum or to a sudden beginning. Instead, he showed that around the time of the first star formation the universe gradually changed from a truly quantum condition, in which quantum effects are the norm even for large objects, to the modern condition in which quantum effects affect microscopic objects only:

There is only one overall quantum world which contains an approximately classical `sub-world' that gradually emerges under conditions that have been described throughout this chapter. (Bohm & Hiley, 1993, p. 178) That is, because of the dominance of nonlocal quantum effects in this "quantum world," it behaves nothing like the familiar classical world of time and three-dimensional space. But Bohm and Hiley showed how in the early universe the possibility of having macroscopic creatures who would perceive the appearance of such a classical sub-world came about, as quantum effects gradually became negligible for massive objects. Interestingly, Bohm and Hiley also pointed out that bacteria are midway in size between the scale of the current macroscopic (classical) realm and the scale of the microscopic realm in which quantum effects are still common (p. 176). They were saying that at certain stages in the early universe the same was true of planets, stars, and galaxies.

Bohm considered the quantum world to be an example of what he called an "implicate order": We can say that `wherever you are' you may represent this as an `ordinary local space' but that there will be a horizon in which this space `dissolves' into an implicate order. Such a `universe' would not have a definite boundary, but would simply fade into something that does not manifest to us beyond its horizon. Nor would it have a beginning or an end. But rather it would similarly fade in the distant past and in the distant future. (p. 377)

So in that sense time has no beginning, but neither is there an infinite unchanging past as in the Steady State cosmology. Rather, the idea of the existence of a universe consisting of objects interacting in space and time breaks down in the early universe. "Early" here refers not to the beginning of time but to the beginning of the classical sub-world. Before that, the idea of time would have to be replaced by some more general concept of causality.

But the main relevance of Bohm's theory for CA is that, although the early conditions in the universe did not permit the existence of large organisms that perceive a classical sub-world, there was no need for a high-density, high-temperature phase pervading the universe. So the possibility of the early existence of microorganisms could not be excluded on those grounds. As for where these organisms came from, answering that depends on understanding how to generalize current concepts of biology, physics, and philosophy to apply to the rather different conditions of that time.

Also, it seems to me that, if Bohm was right, then macroscopic nonlocal quantum processes in the early universe would produce large-scale structures earlier than the Big Bang cosmology predicts. You could compare the early universe to a plasma, in which long-range electromagnetic forces between ions make possible all kinds of collective motions and structures that do not occur in a neutral gas. Similarly, if nonlocal quantum correlations across vast distances existed from the earliest era of star formation, then not all large-scale structures would have to gradually grow bottom-up from smaller-scale inhomogeneities. Some of them might form that way, but others would be primordial. So you'd expect to see fewer massive galaxies in the past, because some galaxies have become massive by gradual accretion, but you'd also expect to see primordial massive galaxies no matter how far back you look, at least to the start of star formation. This is pretty much what has been observed.

Another good book on Bohm's theory is Peter R. Holland's The Quantum Theory of Motion: An Account of the de Broglie-Bohm Causal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge University Press, 1993).

--Doug Early / EARLY ARTS / Bellingham, WA

[Klyce replies] Many thanks for you thoughtful reply about my "Big bang predictions are not upheld". I like the Bohm that I read 20 years ago. However, in general, I think we know way too little to accurately speculate about the universe of >10 billion years ago. Also, I disagree with your sentence that begins "OTOH, if natural selection has an infinite time...". In my view, darwinian evolution only goes sideways or downhill, no matter how much time is available.

But I am delighted with your interest. I will probably rephrase my next comments on the infinite past because of your suggestions.

At 9:10 AM -0700 7/30/04, Douglas Early wrote:

Brig, I should have said "chance" rather than natural selection. With infinite time, any arbitrarily complex biological system will assemble by chance, as long as the probability has some lower bound. Even if the probability is no bigger than that of a Hoyle's tornado assembling a Boeing 747 by blowing through a junkyard, the assembly will happen if you wait long enough. Of course, "long enough" expressed in years might be 1 followed by 40 pages of zeros. After the system is assembled by chance, I agree, Darwinism is at best a way of slowing the system's decline. Darwinism is really a theory of extinction, not evolution.

[...] I only meant to offer Bohm's quantum theory as an example of another type of cosmology, besides the cosmologies of finite and infinite pasts. Some people dismiss CA because they reject the steady-state theory on the evidence and conclude that the big-bang theory doesn't permit life to exist in the early universe. So Bohm's theory shows that there's a third possibility. Also, Bohm's theory is interesting because its only new assumption is realism; everything else follows from that. It's a very parsimonious theory in that sense.

There's a good biography of Bohm, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm (F. David Peat, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997). You might find it interesting because of parallels in the way physicists reacted to Bohm's ideas and the way Darwinists react to Hoyle's ideas and CA. Bohm was one of a very few truly original scientific thinkers of recent decades, along with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold, who kept on questioning nature even in the face of huge pressure to conform their thinking to the currently fashionable paradigms.

BTW, I don't know if you have heard that Thomas Gold died about a month ago.

--Doug

[Klyce replies] Dear Doug -- I am the most argumentative guy you ever met probably. Anyway, I think your two sentences above ["With infinite time..." and "Even if the probability..."] are false. There are at least two kinds of infinity (countable and uncountable.) Because infinities can differ in this way, infinite time and space do not guarantee every imaginable eventuality.

To: "Brig Klyce" From: Douglas Early

I've met argumentative people who make the folks at META seem downright open-minded. I don't mind if someone disagrees with me because sometimes they know something I don't, in which case I'll learn something.

Here's an opportunity for me to learn something. This argument about countable versus uncountable infinities is one I haven't heard. I'd like to know what it is, or if you could point me to a reference that explains it, I'd appreciate it.

BTW, I didn't mean to imply that every imaginable eventuality will occur, only that those which have some nonzero lower bound on their probability are likely to occur if you wait long enough. This is just a consequence of probability theory. If, for example, the probability of an event happening per unit time is p, and p > 1/(b - a) during some finite time interval a <= t <= b, then the probability that the event has occurred will reach 100% before time b.

Of course, it's easy to imagine scenarios in which the probability p of the spontaneous assembly of a system has no nonzero lower bound. For example, if some necessary energy or material is in short supply, then p could be zero. So depending on the circumstances, all kinds of imaginable eventualities might not occur even with endless time.

This subject has a long history in the study of the relationship of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. It's possible to maintain that the second law of thermodynamics always holds, but then you have to set it up as an independent postulate not derivable from quantum theory. People have tried to derive this non-statistical form of the second law from quantum theory, but these attempts have failed, although nobody has shown it can't be done either. That is, it might be that many-body correlations conspire to uphold the second law always, or it might be that the correlations provide more rather than fewer opportunities for violating the second law.

In the absence of a proof, many physicists split the difference and assume the correlations have no effect either way. Then the second law is statistical--that is, it says that large-scale entropy decreases are rare but not forbidden. Then infinite time can explain not only biogenesis but why entropy currently is increasing. The explanation is that after a monstrously long wait, a random fluctuation precipitously lowers the entropy of the universe, and then for a few billion years the universe enjoys a period of rising entropy, which among other things makes life possible. Then after another monstrous wait of nothing much happening, another fluctuation gets the whole thing going again, and so on, over and over. I don't buy this idea, but it's hard to avoid it if you believe in infinite time.

--Doug

8 July 2004: Big bang predictions are not upheld [the referenced What'sNEW item].


Extra terrestrial intelligence
Tue, 11 May 2004 13:33:16 -0500
from Charles Scott

BK,

In an email Brian Harris asked: "... why has SETI so far been unable to isolate evidence of higher forms of life? "

My view is, possibly we are using the wrong techniques for discovery. Man-made radio waves are so puny that after traveling for a few light years they become distorted and swamped by conditions in outer space. The same for radio broadcast directed toward us. A more advanced race would look around for a powerful broadcaster - a natural transmitter. (1) Most likely this would be a nearby star. They would have a way to very subtly modify or modulate some aspect of its radiation, e.g., neutrino, or even a range of photons. For example, native Americans intruded upon the nature of smoke only a little to form signals that could be seen from a great distance. (2) Jets from black holes and some stars are natural and powerful producers of radio waves. We should study these closely for signs of intelligent manipulation. (3) For an Earth-based system the encoding of one twin of a Gemini particle pair suggests a means for galactic communication with Them. (Longer description: http://www.all-new-biz.com/id54.htm.)

Thanks for your insightfulness, CS

Possible Flaw in Cosmic Ancestry Hypothesis is Brian Harris's email of 7 Feb 2004.


Universe Documentary Film Release
23 Apr 2004
from Gabriele Manzotti

Dear Brig.

Maybe you are interested in the following Documentary Film release.

The film highlights the major contradictions in Big Bang Cosmology and is an up to date point of the alternatives to the Big Bang itself.

It collects Interviews with Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, Jayant Narlikar, Fred Hoyle, Halton Arp, Eric Lerner and many other Big Bang opponents.

I strongly recommend it to you.... Best regards, Gabriele Manzotti

www.universe-film.com


Dim sun conditions of AD 536
18 Feb 2004
(posted 29 Feb)
from Dr. Michael R. Rampino
to CC-Net

...Claus Hammer and his co-workers have now substantiated and redated the volcanic ice-core peak that Richard Stothers and I believed for many years to be associated with the dim sun conditions of AD 536.

There is absolutely no physical evidence for a comet impact or airburst at that time, so speculation about this "impact event" should now end. ...Mike

Dr. Michael R. Rampino / Associate Professor / Earth & Environmental Science Program / New York University

A small comet impact caused sixth century global chill? is the related CA What'sNEW item, 4 Feb 2004.


Fossilized bubble on Mars Sulfulr loving bacteria in Mars
28 Feb 2004 10:58 AM
from jacob navia

This was posted in sci.astro

"During the spring gemmule "hatch", the peripheral thesocytes differentiate into a pinacoderm that balloons out, like a bubblegum bubble, through the micropyle. This micropyle bubble makes contact and attaches to the substratum

http://64.78.63.75/samples/04BIORuppertInvertebrateZoology7ch5.pdf

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/m/028/1M130672510EFF0454P2933M2M1.HTML

Jonathan"

Life on Mars! is the related CA webpage.


Francisco J. Carrapico
Carrapico
Astrobiology and Education
20 Feb 2004 1:24 PM
from Francisco J. Carrapico

Dear Friends,

Please take a look to the following page [link below]. It is in Portuguese with a small abstract in English, but you can explore it and includes the final work of our project on Astrobiology and Education.

All the best, Francisco

* Francisco J. Carrapico, Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa, Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Bloco C2, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.

Astrobiology in Portugal


Big Bang News
20 Feb 2004 3:35 AM
from Gabriel Manzotti

Dear Brig,

The news you reported reminds me of the following ....

Big Bang cosmology is a form of religious fundamentalism, as is the furor over black holes, and this is why this peculiar state of mind have flourished so strongly over past quarter century. It is the nature of fundamentalism that it should contain a powerful streak of irrationality and that it should not relate, in a verifiable, practical way, to the everyday world. It is also necessary for a fundamentalist belief that it should permit the emergence of gurus, whose pronouncements can be widely reported and pondered on endlessly — endlessly for the reason that they contain nothing of substance, so that it would take an eternity of time to distil even one drop of sense from them.
Fred Hoyle – Home is Where the Wind Blows – 1997 – Oxford.Un.Pr. pag 413

And also the following ...

Astronomical fads have always involved miracles working to some degree and their discussion in so-called workshops and in the streams of papers that pour into the journals have affinities to the incantations of Macbeth's witches on the blasted heat.
Fred Hoyle – Home is Where the Wind Blows – 1997 – Oxford.Un.Pr. pag 280

And also .... No, that's enough!

Best regards, Gabriel Manzotti / Monza / Italy

Big bang revised again? is the related CA What'sNEW item, 18 Feb 2004.


Possible Flaw in Cosmic Ancestry Hypothesis
Sat, 7 Feb 2004 13:05:50 -0500
from Brian Harris

Dear Mr. Klyce,

I've been reading thru your website with interest. A thought just crossed my mind--I doubt it is a new insight, yet I so far have not read any mention of what could be an inherent flaw in the strong case for panspermia. If I understand correctly, the hypothesis is that current life on Earth originates from prior MORE ADVANCED life elsewhere and that this whole process of species evolving from ongoing DNA infusions from virus/bacteria from space has some ultimate more advanced life outcome already programmed in.

If this is so, why has SETI so far been unable to isolate evidence of higher forms of life? I have read of computer simulations which show that if life is widespread among the universe (which would appear a corollary for the strong panspermia case) that by now there should be (given huge size of the Universe) plenty of signs via radio frequency of these other advanced civilizations. Yet there are none--shockingly the evidence seems very strong that we are indeed alone in the universe. If the strong case for panspermia is indeed correct, then it appears logical that the same process should be going on in various planets around the universe and that at least one of these planets the strong panspermia process should be more developed than on Earth. Yet no evidence. Any thoughts?

Klyce replies: Sun, 8 Feb 2004

...I think your question is valid.

We have no idea how easily intelligent life becomes established, nor how long it is likely to endure. In our own solar system there are a couple of dozen planets and moons, yet only one has produced intelligent life, apparently. Whether even primitive life exists or ever existed elsewhere in our solar system is still unknown.

FWIW, I personally think we should not advertise our presence to unknown others. What if they are desperate for seawater, or dentine, or something?

BTW, your question is puzzling to the standard theory as well. If life can start easily under the right conditions, and subsequently evolve new features without limit, where are the other examples?

Thanks for your interest!...

Mon, 9 Feb 2004 10:26:25 -0500

Mr. Klyce, thanks for your reply.... I find cosmic ancestry/panspermia to be a fascinating field and wish more money could be made available to test some of its tenets--always seems probes to Europa, comets etc. are being cancelled for lack of funds while low-science projects like space station, manned mission to Mars etc. soak up all the resources. But that's another matter...

Brian Harris (Princeton '84)


photo Mars Express
Tue, 3 Feb 2004 03:17:53 +0000
from Francisco Carrapico

Dear Brig,

Please take a look to the following site -- [link below picture] about a picture taken by Mars Express showing the Gusev crater landing site of the NASA Spirit rover. If it was on Earth, I had no difficulty to consider that the blue-green areas could be some kind of cyanobacteria mat. Lets wait for the results of the spectra data.

It seems that there is a big flap right now about how NASA does its photography, since they use an IR filter instead of a red filter along with blue and green filters. This could easily change color contrasts. I hope Mars Express just uses regular RGB.

Warmest regards, Francisco

Life on Mars! is the related CA webpage.


origin of cosmic information – a question
Thu, 22 Jan 2004 16:03:35 +0100
from Attila Grandpierre

[Klyce replies: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 23:19:21 -0700]

Dear Prof. Brig Klyce,

Attila Grandpierre
Grandpierre
It was great to read your paper "The Second Law of Thermodynamics". I am a Hungarian astrophysicist writing now a book "The Living Universe" (in English). In this work, I plan to write about the amount of organic materials in the universe, and bacteria in interstellar matter. Do you know about some recent serious critics of Hoyle's views on the presence of organic materials, and even bacteria, in interstellar clouds?

Hoyle was criticised, but the opposing analyses were not very specific. I think Mayo Greenberg, and (?) Anders were some of his opponents. Robert Shapiro has a criticism in his book "Origins", but it is extremely vague. When I interviewed him, Hoyle complained to me that the critics would never get specific.

Regarding your valuable paper on the web, I think that your point has really fundamental consequences. I would like to share with you some related thoughts and kindly ask your remarks, if possible. Please excuse me for not being able to formulate it in a more compact form.

Many regard information as physical negentropy, as it is used in:

– Tribus and McIrvine (1971) Sci. Am. 225(3): 179-188; p. 183: "Taking commonly accepted average values for the temperatures of the sun and the earth, the 1.6*10^15 megawatt-hours of energy radiated to outer space carries with it the capability for an entropy decrease, or "negentropy flux", of 3.2*10^22 joules per degree K. per year, or 10^38 bits per second."

– Wheeler, J. A. 1990, Information, Physics, Quantum: The Search for Links, in: Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information, ed. W. H. Zurek, Addison-Wesley, p. 14, giving for the physical information content, "The bits of entropy of the primordial cosmic fireball as deduced from the entropy of the present 2.735 deg K microwave relic radiation totaled over a 3-sphere of radius 13.2*10^9 light years or 1.25 *10^28 cm and volume 2 pi^2 radius^3(number of bits) = 8*10^88."

– Chaisson, E. 2001, in: Cosmic Evolution, p. 129-130, tells: "the potential information...by virtue of this finite difference between matter and radiation, as well as the associated irreversible flow of energy from the radiation field to material objects, we obtain a quantitative measure of the potential for information growth throughout cosmic history: I=Kk_B^-1 (S_max - S)=Kk_B^-1 (T_m^-1 - T_r^-1)."

Now if you think that Shannon entropy and physical entropy are very different, than it needs another source of cosmic information instead of physical negentropy. Would you think I am right in that point?

Wheeler is wrong, I believe, to convert energy per absolute degree (the units of entropy) into bits of information. This formalism has no basis in reality. Chaisson's expression, "potential information," seems to acknowledge the need for a sensing mechanism to turn events into information. But immediately he forgets that need.

Berkovich, S. Y. (2003) On the Barcode Functionality of DNA or the Phenomenon of Life in the physical Universe, Dorrance Publishing Co. states that in complexity and information it is the Ashby's Law that is fundamental, and it tells that "The variety of outputs cannot be not greater than the variety of inputs. (or the same in logarithmic scale: the information of the output cannot exceed the information of the input)."

Therefore, I would interpret it that if the Shannon information content of the universe as a closed system was low at the beginning, it will not be able to grow. For example, in star formation process the information cannot grow by Ashby's Law between the intial state of a cosmic cloud and the end result as a star.

I would think that physical laws has low information content (now I hope to learn more from Chaitin). Physical laws express conservation laws, and the information that a quantity conserves seems to be not high.

Now if the information content of the physical laws are low, it is a problem what is the source of the biological information, - a protein may have an information content 10^6 bits, and, as it is pointed out in Yockey's book (p. 255), even for the production of one iso-1-cytochrome-c molecule with 233-373 bits, from a primeval soup containing 10^44 amino acids and assuming that each amino acid tries to select one combination at each second, it would need 10^23 years to reach a probability 0.95, if I understand this important point correctly - but than it seems to be even more shocking for me, what is the source of the enormous information content present in our environment. We receive by vision an information flow cca. 10^9 bits/sec through our eyes (Drischel, 1972, Biokybernetik; Scheffer, 1994, Quart. J. Br. Soc. 35, 157-175). One small digital picture or a TV picture contains 10^7 bits, and we observe 20 pictures per sec, and our vision space is much higher than a small picture. Such a giant information flow from our physical information in the cosmic context would lead to cca. 10^50 bits/s in the whole universe! If for 233-373 bits require 10^23 years, 10^50 bits/s would be absolutely impossible to realize from physical laws.

What is the source of this huge information flow, if the information content of the physical laws are small? I would think this as an important point to consider.

The environment can be seen at high or low resolution, so its information content is not a property of the environment, but of the encoding mechanism. The environment is mute.

If one makes computer file containing a digital image of some part of the environment, a resolution level has been imposed and information has been created. But even now it lacks meaning.

The kind of information that interests me is information that
1) is encoded in a finite alphabet, like DNA, computer code, sheet music, written text, etc., and
2) has instructional meaning, like non-junk DNA, computer programs, sheet music, written instructions, etc.

In this case, the huge information flow of the physical environment of the universe ~10^50 bits/s should arise from a dynamic information generation factor. To this task, I see only one candidate: Living Universe.

Hoyle had a similar notion, I believe. However, if there were no life, there could still be an environment, like the moon, rich with potential visual information.

The encoded instructional meaning in DNA, that must have a cosmic source, I agree.

– Ervin Bauer (1935) Theoretical Biology (In Russian; 1967, in Hungarian) states that the universal life principle acts of the inner boundaries of systems. The inner boundaries in my interpretation represent the structure of the living system that corresponds to the biological information of the system. Therefore, the essence of life principle is to generate biological information. If this argument is right, than the enormous information flow of the physical environment has a cosmic and biological origin.

Another point is the origin of biological information within the earthly living organisms. It seems that the information input necessary to maintain life in 10^27 bacteria present in the earth (Hoyle, Wickramasinghe 2003, Astronomy or Biology? Astrophys. Space Sci. 285: 539-554), with 10^5 chemical reactions/sec, N bits are necessary to instruct the cell to execute the proper reaction, is N*10^32 bits/sec, much higher than the information flow of the physical environment (N>1).

The biological information is processed by each cell at a very tolerable rate, but there are lots of them. Why add the rates together?

The information in the physical environment is not really "in" it, but imposed upon it by some sensing mechanism, as discussed above.

I hope this is helpful.... Brig

***
Sorry for the long chain of thought. I hope you can find occasion to answer.

Yours sincerely, Dr. Attila Grandpierre / Konkoly Observatory / www.konkoly.hu/staff/grandpierre

PS: But the information encoded in DNA, that information really is in the environment!

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the related CA webpage.

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