Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 2

When we speak of "life" or "the cosmos", starting our discussion at "the beginning" is difficult.

Especially when, in some ways, "the beginning" is as illusive to us as defining or grasping the meaning of "a line."

Wikipedia tells us that "a line" can extend to infinity, in either direction, having no beginning, and no end.

Or "a line" can be finite in both directions, having one point described as the "beginning point", with another point being described as the "end point".

Still, those two points exist on that other "line" which, as I said, has no beginning point and no end point.

Interestingly, "a line segment" has the same property as one type of line, that is, it has both a beginning point and an end point.

When a beginning point exists, but no end point exists, then the entity is not called "a line segment" or "a line", instead it is called "a ray."

In the first post of this series we dealt with "the beginning", in the sense that plane geometry deals with it, i.e., somewhat like the discussion of "a line."

We looked at where life begins, not in the sense of time, not in the sense of the past or future, but in the sense of locus, that is, where in terms of location, does the "machine" world end, and the world of "life" begin?

To be sure, in this series we have set forth a valid reason to equate "machine" with "inorganic", likewise to equate "life" with "organic":

"Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial." Professor Lithgow said.
"François Jacob described evolution as a tinkerer, cobbling together proteins of one function to yield more complex machines capable of new functions." Professor Lithgow said.

"Our work describes a perfect example of Jacob's proposition, and shows that Darwin's theory of evolution beautifully explains how molecular machines came to be."

(ibid, quoting Science Daily and Monash Univ.). Our science describes those "component parts" of molecules with the word "atoms", which are said to be the smallest unique identifier of  what our science calls "the elements."

What we call "simple cells" are said to be complex molecular machines (inorganic) with something more, hence, more complex organization (organic).

Thus, in this context when we ask about "the beginning", we are simply asking "when we use super microscopes and/or other tools for looking deep into the micro world which our eyes alone cannot detect, where does the 'machine' essence end, and where does the 'organic' essence begin?"

In some cases the answer to that question will depend on definition, on nomenclature.

It probably behooves us to substitute "boundary" in place of "beginning", when we discuss "machine" or "life", at least in the context of locus.

So, concerning inorganic machine entities compared with organic life, our nomenclature should change as scientific discoveries improve to bring us results that boil down to a better scientific understanding.

Einstein once said: "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler" (paraphrased "don't oversimplify").

Based upon the statements of Professor Lithgow, above, we can define two categories of entities, machine (inorganic) and life (inorganic bound with organic).

In that sense, all plants, animals, and elements are either "machine" or "life", it is just that "life" in this nomenclature is "machines bound to additional organic essence", and "machine" in this nomenclature is "atoms and/or molecules without organic essence", or as a recent comment by a scientists indicates:

Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living – everything up to that point is chemistry."

(Univ. of York, cf Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry). So, for purposes of this discussion, looking into our super microscope at the lowest level of the machine world, we will see atoms, then moving up a level we will see atoms organized into molecules, then moving up another level we will see very complex molecules, then at the level where we approach the boundary between machines and where life begins, we will see a very complex molecular machine with something more, something that transforms it into life, a super complex machine with super organization, something we call organic, then eventually we reach the level of "a cell" (cf. Are Toxins of Power Machines Or Organisms?).

Leaving the concept of boundaries, now turning to concepts of "the beginning" in terms of time, The Big Bang Theory (conceived of by a Belgian Priest) deals with "the beginning" in that context.

There is a specific term used to define "the beginning" of elements in the sense of time, thus the beginning of machines in the sense of time, which is called Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.

Following nucleosynthesis, in time sequence, more complex machines developed, which we call stars.

Going on in time sequence in Big Bang cosmology, once those stars formed they then produced even more elements, i.e., more machines.

Clearly then, cosmological evolution advocates and hypothesizes that machines replicated, and/or formed other machines, in the earliest evolutionary processes of The Big Bang.

This is a good place, then, to characterize machines as being able to replicate other machines, but to characterize organics as being able to reproduce their own kind, but change through morphing.

Machines replicate not only their own kind, but other kinds of machines, but observation gives us evidence that life, in its organic reproductive process, reproduces only its own kind but experiences morph from time to time.

This is also a good place to mention that the combination of machine and organic is really what science fiction likes to call "a cyborg", a combination of inorganic machine with non-machine organics.

But, we can also see that organics cannot exist without the underlying machine foundation which organics extend upon.

We can also note that death, then, is the removal of the organic essences, so that the entity can revert back to the purely inorganic (machine) components underneath the organic level.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

1 comment:

JP said...

Hi, just two things I would like to add... first why should it be a straight line? Why not a circumference? If all evidences in life/universe/etc point to cycles, why should we think about a straight line? Second, why is it life, organic life, only considered to be as carbon atom's base life? Should it not be something else? Why don't we think about intelligence?
João Pedro