Summary of Stuart Kauffman s At Home in the Universe
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50 pages
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Description

Please note: This is a companion version & not the original book.
Sample Book Insights:
#1 The Western mind has lost paradise, which was the first home of humanity. We have been told that purpose and value are ours alone to create, without Satan and God.
#2 The rise of science and the technological explosion has driven us to our secular worldview. We still have a spiritual hunger, however, and we must find anew our place in the universe.
#3 The story of our loss of paradise is familiar, but it is worth repeating. Until Copernicus, we believed ourselves to be at the center of the universe. But after Newton, the laws of mechanics not only derived tides and orbits, but unleashed on the Western mind a clockwork universe.
#4 The theory of evolution by natural selection, which Darwin introduced, shattered the belief that species are fixed by the squares of Linnean taxonomy. They evolve from one another. Natural selection acting on random variation, not God or some principle of Rational Morphology, accounts for the similarity of limb and fin.

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Publié par
Date de parution 31 mai 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9798822526075
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0150€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

Insights on Stuart Kauffman's At Home in the Universe
Contents Insights from Chapter 1 Insights from Chapter 2 Insights from Chapter 3 Insights from Chapter 4 Insights from Chapter 5 Insights from Chapter 6 Insights from Chapter 7 Insights from Chapter 8 Insights from Chapter 9 Insights from Chapter 10 Insights from Chapter 11 Insights from Chapter 12
Insights from Chapter 1



#1

The Western mind has lost paradise, which was the first home of humanity. We have been told that purpose and value are ours alone to create, without Satan and God.

#2

The rise of science and the technological explosion has driven us to our secular worldview. We still have a spiritual hunger, however, and we must find anew our place in the universe.

#3

The story of our loss of paradise is familiar, but it is worth repeating. Until Copernicus, we believed ourselves to be at the center of the universe. But after Newton, the laws of mechanics not only derived tides and orbits, but unleashed on the Western mind a clockwork universe.

#4

The theory of evolution by natural selection, which Darwin introduced, shattered the belief that species are fixed by the squares of Linnean taxonomy. They evolve from one another. Natural selection acting on random variation, not God or some principle of Rational Morphology, accounts for the similarity of limb and fin.

#5

The existence of spontaneous order is a challenge to our Darwinian worldview. If the forms of organisms were generated by laws of complexity, then selection has always had a handmaiden. It is not the sole source of order, and organisms are not just tinkered-together contraptions.

#6

The Darwinian worldview will not be easy to change. Biologists have, so far, no framework in which to study an evolutionary process that combines both self-organization and selection.

#7

The second law of thermodynamics, which states that in equilibrium systems, entropy inevitably increases, has been thought to be rather gloomy. But it is not so mysterious after all. In equilibrium systems, order tends to disappear because the system tends to randomly visit all its microstates.

#8

The first signs of life on earth are present 3. 45 billion years ago, 300 million years after the crust cooled enough to support liquid water. These signs of life are hardly trivial. Well-formed cells, or what the experts believe are cells, are present in the archaic rocks from that period.

#9

The first cells were invented about 3 billion boring years ago. They were simple single-celled organisms, and later, elongated tubelike cells that were precursors of early fungi. These progenitors of all later ecosystems formed complex local economies in which bacterial species and algae competed with one another.

#10

Life on earth has been dominated by single-celled organisms for the last 3 billion years. But life-forms were destined to change by some unknown agency. Multicellular organisms appeared by perhaps 800 million years ago.

#11

The history of life in the first 100 million years following the Cambrian explosion was one of bustling confusion. The Linnean chart groups organisms hierarchically, from the specific to the general: species, genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, and kingdoms. But nature suddenly sprang forth with many wildly different body plans in the Cambrian explosion.

#12

The past 550 million years have seen well-fossilized life-forms emerge onto and then fade from the stage. Speciation and extinction go hand in hand. The average diversity of species increased to a sort of rough steady state over the next 100 million years, but was constantly perturbed by small and large avalanches of extinctions.

#13

The natural history of life for the past 550 million years has echoes at all levels: from ecosystems to economic systems undergoing technological evolution. The fate of all complex adapting systems is to evolve to a natural state between order and chaos.

#14

The search for fundamental laws is the ideal of reductionism in science. We seek reductionist explanations for economic and social phenomena, and we hope that those explanations will lead to a final theory that will explain everything.

#15

The final theory of physics might well explain, but almost certainly will not predict in detail. The distinction between explaining and predicting is important. We cannot predict long-term behavior with the final theory, but we can still hope to predict kinds of properties that are typical or generic and do not depend on the details.

#16

Theoretical science has often been based on finding useful compact descriptions of a phenomenon of interest. The reduced description does not capture all the features of the phenomenon, just those that are fundamentally relevant.

#17

The search for such properties is emerging as a fundamental research strategy. If emergent laws of order are found, they would be reconciled with the random mutations and opportunistic selections of Darwinism.

#18

There are two main forms of order: low-energy equilibrium systems, which are common in physics, and life. In biology, viruses are a good example of low-energy equilibrium systems. They form a core around which other proteins assemble to form tail fibers, head structures, and other features.

#19

The second means by which order arises is through the constant source of mass or energy or both to sustain the ordered structure. These systems are nonequilibrium structures, and they are sustained by the persistent dissipation of matter and energy.

#20

The theory of computation is a beautiful mathematical theory that shows that, in most cases, there is no shorter way to predict what an algorithm will do than to simply execute it. Real computers, made of real materials and plugged into a wall socket, are universal computational systems.

#21

Many biologists believe that there are no laws of life. Darwin has taught us about descent with modification, and modern biology sees itself as a deeply historical science. It is not clear that biology will yield laws beyond descent with modification.

#22

The term emergent is used to describe the creation of the stunning order out our windows as a natural expression of some underlying laws. It would explain if we are at home in the universe, expected in it, rather than present despite overwhelming odds.

#23

The order seen in organisms is not the result of selection, but of the natural order of self-organization. This idea may change how we think about evolution. It may be the result of both self-organization and Darwinian selection.

#24

The idea of fitness peaks applies at many levels. For example, it can refer to the capacity of a protein molecule to catalyze a given chemical reaction. Then peaks of the landscape correspond to enzymes that are better catalysts for this reaction than all their neighboring proteinsthose in the foothills and, worst of all, those in the valleys.

#25

The edge-of-chaos image arises in coevolution as well, for as we evolve, so do our competitors. To remain fit, we must adapt to their adaptations. In coevolving systems, each partner clambers up its fitness landscape toward fitness peaks, even as that landscape is constantly deformed by the adaptive moves of its coevolutionary partners.

#26

The edge of chaos may provide a deep new understanding of the logic of democracy. We have enshrined democracy as our secular religion, and we argue its moral and rational foundations. We hope that our heritage of democracy will spill out its abundance of freedom over the globe.

#27

The edge of chaos is a place where order and chaos meet. It is a close cousin of the recent findings in a theory called self-organized criticality, which states that the same-sized grain of sand can unleash small or large avalanches.

#28

The Western tradition has regarded knowledge as power. But as the scope of our activities has increased, we are being driven to understand the limits of our understanding and even our potential understanding. If we find general laws, and those laws entail that the biosphere and all within it coevolve to some analogue of the sandpile, poised on the edge of chaos, it would be wise to be wise.
Insights from Chapter 2



#1

The first life on earth was believed to have emerged so rapidly because of the myth of creation. In reality, life sprang from the molten earth’s womb about as soon as the infall of meteoric masses forming the protoearth slowed and the surface cooled enough to support liquid water.

#2

The question of the origin of life has undergone major transformations over the past centuries. Theories of the origin of life began to appear in their modern forms only with the brilliant experiments of Louis Pasteur over a century ago.

#3

The reductionist theory that life is based on the same principles as nonlife was not accepted by many people. The French philosopher Henri Bergson believed that life is an insubstantial essence that permeates and animates the inorganic molecules of cells.

#4

The origin of life was a problem that stood quietly for some 50 years. In the middle of the twentieth century, it was thought that the early atmosphere was rich in molecular species such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide.

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