Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
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16-04-2014, 02:21 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
(15-04-2014 11:45 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(15-04-2014 02:14 PM)living thing Wrote:  I thought processes had to have purposes, that's why I've avoided the word in this thread so far.
...

Ah, yes. My bad. According to ISO15504. But that is related to documented processes. It has made me think as to whether this means biological processes are perhaps better referred to as systems but I have not reached a conclusion on this.
And even I did draw that conclusion, it would be trivial in that I would not be embarking upon a campaign to overthrow established usage.

Regarding 'division', I was thinking ... both.

Similarly, a business may diverge into smaller entities or sell off a division on the large scale but also in terms of production (growing/swelling by consuming raw materials and information and then dividing by selling off the end product.

Likewise for humans with inputs (food, information etc.) that create growth and then outputs (shit, sweat, knowledge, legacy etc.) but also the final division of our physical component parts.

I'm seeing this pattern (grow and divide and also the model of 'input-process-output') at all levels:
I see it in the galaxies.
I see it in chemical reactions
I see it in the hydro-thermal vents on the ocean's floor
I see it in symbiotic systems
I see it when we eat and shit and reproduce
I see it in fauna, flora and fora (forums)
I see it in businesses
I see it in religions
I see it in nations.

Chas, yes, it might be over-reaching but ...
well, I dunno. I'm just a monkey.

Weeping
When I think of a process, the notion that springs to mind is that of one or more transformations happening over a length of time. If I say that I am in the process of doing something, it means that I have begun but not finished some operation. However, when I think of a system, the notion that springs to mind is that of an entity formed by two or more components typically interacting with each other. I personally don't use both words as synonyms, but your choice of words is for your own brain to decide.

I can at least conceive one structure that wouldn't be susceptible of growth or division, but I don't know if such a structure exists, so I will not argue against your point. What about my point? Do you think stellar nucleosynthesis can be described as a process of random transformations and environmental selection of stable products?

Cheers!
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16-04-2014, 03:14 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
I reckon you should read this book livingthing. It's written by an astro-physicist and tracks the rise of complexity from the big bang to modern day society.

Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos


If you read that and enjoy it, you should check out:

Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life

This book was recommended to me by someone on this forum and it's a fantastic book. This is the book I've been looking for, for many years now. I'm still reading it, but it focuses on the role of thermodynamics in the formation of life.

The basic theme of both books is that self organisation leads to localised islands of complexity due to the laws of thermodynamics and the expansion of the universe creating thermal gradients. The formation of solar systems and biological life can both be understood in this way.
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16-04-2014, 03:46 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
Hello Mathilda, thanks for your interesting recommendations.

I'd say yes, thermodynamics and energy propagation are key in understanding how life may have come to be.

Although I wouldn't go as far as saying that those islands of complexity are due to the laws of thermodynamics. Our so-called laws are either attempts to describe the behaviour of reality (descriptive natural laws) or attempts to regulate the behaviour of reality (proscriptive social laws). Maybe part of reality's behaviour (ours when we behave according to some social law) can be said to be due to laws, but in general, reality's behaviour is not due to our laws. Long before Mr. Newton was born, material structures were already attracted towards other material structures nearby.

But I think I may see what you mean (although I haven't read those books yet), and if I do, I'd say I agree. In any case, I thank you for you valuable contribution to this thread.

Have a good day!
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16-04-2014, 05:54 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
(16-04-2014 03:14 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  I reckon you should read this book livingthing. It's written by an astro-physicist and tracks the rise of complexity from the big bang to modern day society.

Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos


If you read that and enjoy it, you should check out:

Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life

This book was recommended to me by someone on this forum and it's a fantastic book. This is the book I've been looking for, for many years now. I'm still reading it, but it focuses on the role of thermodynamics in the formation of life.

The basic theme of both books is that self organisation leads to localised islands of complexity due to the laws of thermodynamics and the expansion of the universe creating thermal gradients. The formation of solar systems and biological life can both be understood in this way.

Excellent. Thank you.
Somewhat annoyingly I've just got home from dinner, movie etc and went past the main bookshop in this island.
Looks like I'll be going back tomorrow for these books.
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16-04-2014, 09:27 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
(16-04-2014 02:10 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(15-04-2014 04:42 PM)Chas Wrote:  Nucleosynthesis is statistically non-random. The point about stellar life cycles is that nucleosynthesis is a result of them, based on stellar mass.

Since all protons are identical to all others and all neutrons are identical to all others, it doesn't matter which ones fuse to form heavier elements. There is no mutation or variation.

'Life cycle' does not imply that stars are alive - it is a metaphorical use.
Hello Chas, how are you?

Nucleosynthesis is not random; it is only the interactions that produce the temporary structures involved what are random. The result is not random because it is due to the environmental selection of structures that are stable. A nucleus of deuterium surrounded by an electron is fairly stable; a lot more than a positron surrounded by an electron. That is why positrons exist for much shorter periods than deuterium nuclei inside the sun.

Is stellar nucleosynthesis (the assembly of complex “atomic” nuclei inside a star) the result of stellar existence cycles, or are stellar existence cycles the result of nucleosynthesis? After all, it seems to be the energy released in those physical fusion reactions what prevents the star from gravitationally collapsing further onto itself. Or maybe not, I cannot say I know with certainty.

But I’m not talking about stellar existence cycles; I’ve only spoken of those in response to other posts in the thread. I am talking about the assembly of “atomic” structures; stars are just one context in which those physical fusion reactions may happen. A section of a hydrogen bomb might be a different context.

Since all adenosines are functionally identical to all others, and all guanosines are functionally identical to all others, and the same with cytidines and thymidines, it doesn’t matter which ones fuse to form complex genomes; I don’t see how your “objection” applies only to nucleosynthesis. But if two nuclei of helium-3 can transform into a nucleus of helium-4 and a separate proton, how can that change not be seen as a variation? How do you define “variation” if it is not in terms of change?

I don’t think we’re understanding each other; we might do if we used less metaphors.

But I thank you for sharing your view, though.

Mutation in biological systems happens far above the level of simple compounds. It happens at the level of massively complex structures that are not all identical.

My objection is not an "objection". It is a criticism of your thesis that these processes are similar on any meaningful or useful level.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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16-04-2014, 09:45 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
(13-04-2014 05:25 PM)living thing Wrote:  The answer, apparently, lies in the stars. Not in the pattern of bright dots that may be joined together forming the image of a… bear? (are you fucking kidding me?) but in the massive objects that only faintly illuminate our night skies, yet very brightly during the daytime. Much of the radiation that eventually reach us from our nearby star is released, at a prior stage, by some physical fusion reaction between light chemical elements yielding a heavier element. One such reaction appears to be the proton-proton chain reaction, through which hydrogen is fused together into helium.

The reaction occurs in several steps in which matter is rearranged and energy is released. The first transformation involves the fusion of two protons. A large percentage of any star’s mass is in the form of hydrogen “atoms”, which are electrically neutral structures comprising one positively charged proton and one negatively charged electron. At the high temperatures of a star’s core, those “atoms” are ionised; i.e., the proton and the electron move independently of each other.

Normally, when two protons become close enough to interact with one another, they soon move away from each other without further consequences for either of them. But every once in many interactions, the collision happens in such a way that one of the protons is transformed into a neutron (that remains attached to the other proton), a neutrino that moves away at a large speed and a positron that also moves away, but not as quickly.

The structure formed by the proton and the neutron is the nucleus of a heavier type of hydrogen often referred to as deuterium, and it is fairly stable because of the energy lost away in the transformation. The fast neutrino is very stable too, because its tiny mass and neutral electric charge prevent it from having significant interactions with many other structures. The positron, a particle with the mass of an electron but the electric charge of a proton, might be stable if it were surrounded by antiprotons and other positrons, but it is very unstable when it is surrounded by protons and electrons, because as soon as it encounters one of the latter (which is likely to happen soon, considering that electrons are attracted to positrons by their opposite electric charge) they will both disintegrate into a pair of gamma ray photons that move away at the speed of… well, photons.

A nucleus of deuterium may interact with another proton nearby, forming a more complex structure (the nucleus of the light helium-3 isotope) that is relatively stable due to the release of another gamma ray photon in the interaction. This structure can in turn interact with other structures in the vicinity (protons, deuterium nuclei, helium-3 nuclei, etc.) yielding even more complex structures that may be stable in their surroundings: helium, lithium, beryllium, etc.

In general, I view stellar nucleosynthesis as a sequence of random interactions between material structures that result in rearrangements of matter, producing more complex structures that may be more or less stable depending on their environment. But hold on, I also view biological evolution as a sequence of random interactions between material structures that result in rearrangements of matter, producing more complex structures that may be more or less stable depending on their environment. Could it be that complexity in non-biological systems is also acquired through random variation and environmental selection of stable structures?

On the other hand, maybe “atoms” come out of a cosmic unicorn’s rectum, or something like that. What do you think?

What do I think?
I think this is a stellar conversation. Thumbsup
See what I did? I make the funny.


I don't know if you are looking for an "answer" in particular but I do know that if you are looking at either big stuff like stars and/or star systems or tiny stuff like particles ... you might also want to look to the fundamental forces of nature or interactive forces. Four fundamental interactions are conventionally recognized as gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear.

Gravitation is and interesting force. It is the only fundamental interaction in modern physics still modeled as classical rather than quantum. Neutrinos are acted on by gravity whereas other things remain unaffected.... just sayin'.

I still refer to gravitation as the weak force... I guess I'm now a dinosaur.

Damn you Higgs boson!

Weeping

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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16-04-2014, 10:28 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
(16-04-2014 09:27 AM)Chas Wrote:  Mutation in biological systems happens far above the level of simple compounds. It happens at the level of massively complex structures that are not all identical.
Of course! Biological systems happen at least one level of structure above that of a "simple" "atom" ("atoms" are only relatively simple). If I have, at any time throughout this thread (or any other), given you the impression that I am claiming that there is any biological evolution at a level of structure below that of a molecule, please read my words again. I don't consider "atoms" to be living things, and I thus don't apply the adjective "biological" to any of their features. Not even in a metaphorical sense.

(16-04-2014 09:27 AM)Chas Wrote:  My objection is not an "objection". It is a criticism of your thesis that these processes are similar on any meaningful or useful level.
And I thank you for your criticism. It may be that there are no similarities between both processes and I am just talking bollocks, and it may be that you are not understanding what I am saying; which is probably my fault for using such a cryptic language. Nevertheless, I did try to make myself understood.

I appreciate your skepticism, have a good time.
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16-04-2014, 10:38 AM
RE: Random interactions, environmental stability and stellar nucleosynthesis
Thanks for the play on words, kim, you're a star.

(16-04-2014 09:45 AM)kim Wrote:  I don't know if you are looking for an "answer" in particular
Not at all! If I were somehow able to know beforehand the answer I am looking for, I wouldn't need to look for it, would I?

I am interested in other people's views, that's all.

(16-04-2014 09:45 AM)kim Wrote:  but I do know that if you are looking at either big stuff like stars and/or star systems or tiny stuff like particles ... you might also want to look to the fundamental forces of nature or interactive forces. Four fundamental interactions are conventionally recognized as gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear.

Gravitation is and interesting force. It is the only fundamental interaction in modern physics still modeled as classical rather than quantum. Neutrinos are acted on by gravity whereas other things remain unaffected.... just sayin'.
Thanks for the hints!

(16-04-2014 09:45 AM)kim Wrote:  I still refer to gravitation as the weak force... I guess I'm now a dinosaur.

Damn you Higgs boson!

Weeping
Cool! I'd never spoken to a dinosaur before :-)
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