COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2003 - Replies Index - 2001 | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved

Apparently, one is not licensed to theorize without providing new data. But this is a sociological problem, not a scientific one. ...One can generate a hypothesis in which predictions are formulated in testable terms, and then search for relevant information among published reports of experiments that may have had a different purpose altogether — Mikhail V. Blagosklonny and Arthur B. Pardee, p 373 v 416, Nature, 28 March 2002.

Replies to Cosmic Ancestry, 2002

From: Gabriele Manzotti
5:36 PM / 22 Dec 2002
Subject: Happy new year

Dear Brig

At the beginning of the new year I wish to recall the following flash of reality; I think one could well dedicate this quote to the memory of those who have passed, for the relief of those who are still passing, to the hope of those who will pass.

"Mankind has not changed much since the days of Cro-Magnon man, days separated from our own times by a thousand generations. Every one of us has an immense line filled with stories of struggle, heroism, self sacrifice, that if we did but know it would put the parochial affairs of the past few generations to shame. Every one of us has an immense line that would sweep even the greatest dynasties of recorded history into affairs of minor consequences. And before Cro-Magnon there were upwards of ten thousand generations, so many that the imagination is too staggered to conceive of what happened to them all on a generation-to generation basis. What we actually see are nothing but bits of foam at the surface of the vast ocean of prehistory." Fred Hoyle - Home is where the wind blows - end of chp 3.

Have an happy new year... Gabriel Manzotti / Monza / Italy

Fred Hoyle... is a related CA webpage.

From: Brig Klyce
To: John F. McDonald
3:52 PM / 27 Nov 2002
Subject: Red and Black article

Dear John --

Someone recently pointed me to the "Red and Black" web article of 26 November about your work with chimp and human genomes, and the viral genes they contain. Congrats on the continued success.

The article quotes you as saying, "Someone even offered to give us some money if we could prove if the viruses came from outer space." I presume that comment was about me. Others who know me and know that I met you in October and gave a seminar for your lab will make the same presumption, as did my friend who first alerted me.

As you will recall, I asked you if your lab would be interested in undertaking research that could determine whether new genetic programs can arise within a closed system or not. I was willing to obtain funding for the research regardless of the result. I knew before I met you that you had no means to demonstrate an unearthly source for anything. Therefore your remark is quite misleading.

I have a sense of humor, and I chuckled to read your remark. But I am an ethical person and the research I want to promote is serious science. My opponents pretend that it is not -- and perhaps that I am not. So I have an ongoing public relations problem. Would you be willing to send me an email for posting in which you clarify that I did not offer you money to "prove if the viruses came from outer space?" I would appreciate it.

I am not as perturbed as this email probably sounds. I enjoyed our meeting and I hope a collaboration between us in the future remains possible.

Thanks. And Happy Thanksgiving! Brig
Brig Klyce / Acorn Enterprises LLC ...

+ MacDonald's reply will be posted here.
2002 November 28: "Chimps to humans by viral infection?" -- the related CA What'sNEW item.

From: Bob Fritzius
8:11 PM / 26 Nov 2002
Subject: Venus microbes

Brig, Check out my AAS poster on evidence of Venusian bacteria and viruses.

Best regards, Bob Fritzius

To: Dr. Jochen Kissel
Brig Klyce
Date: 10:17 AM / 4 Nov 2002
Subject: CIDA miscalibrated?

Dear Dr. Kissel --

In March I spoke with Don Brownlee about the CIDA results that were announced in April, 2000. Brownlee said that the instrument might be miscalibrated and that a flyby of a familiar object (he was thinking of Wild 2) would help to find out. Now I have read about the flyby of Annefrank. Did CIDA collect particles there? Do the results match anyone's expectations? How can I learn more about this question? (I hope your results announced in April, 2000, are sustained and get proper notice.)

Thank you!! Sincerely, Brig

From: Jochen Kissel
12:51 PM / 4 Nov 2002
Subject: Re: CIDA miscalibrated?

Dear Brig,

Taken literally, your e-mail would sound disastrous. No, CIDA is not miscalibrated, and the results stand up. Our task is to analyze spectra we haven't seen with the limited lab capabilities, since totally organic particles with no electric conductivity cannot be accelerated. We have, however, done other things and accelerated polymeric particles coated with another conductive polymer, which helps us support our interpretation of the CIDA spectra.

Against a possible malfunction of the CIDA instrument point the results we obtained when recording spectra of negative ions from the same class particles in flight. Here we see the electron of the spectrum as sharp peak, as expected, which demonstrates that the instrument properly records sharp peaks if they are present. Since about June 2001 the CIDA instrument was switched OFF as the spacecraft went out to its remotest point from the sun and not enough solar power was available. In fact CIDA is just now being turned on again, and will remain ON until the comet Wild-2 flyby in January of 2004.

Due to other work obligations we have not invested more in the 10 spectra of positive ions and 35 spectra of negative ions we have from flight, until we have a larger number of both. This is expected to happen within the next year or so. As to the asteroid, CIDA was ON, but the miss distance to the asteroid was comparatively large (about 9000 km, rather than 150 km at the comet) and previous flybys of other missions with more sensitive dust counters have shown that there is no dust around asteroids (at least not to the degree that it can be detected during a flyby).

I hope this straightens out some of the misunderstandings

Best regards
J. Kissel.

CIDA is not miscalibrated is the related What'sNEW item, 4 Nov 2002.
Is CIDA miscalibrated? [3rd paragraph] is CA's notice of the possible problem, 12 Mar 2002.
The Physical and Chemical Properties of Interstellar Dust and Dust in Comets... is the CA webpage with Kissel's English translation of the original article announcing CIDA's first results, May 2000.

From: David Darling
11:07 AM, 4 Nov 2002
Subject: life, the universe, and everything
-- Klyce replies: 5 Nov 2002

Dear Brig,

I read your review of Iris Fry's new book with interest. I think you continually make an excellent point that panspermia is a cogent alternative to the origin of life on Earth. But I'm uncertain as to how you account for life in the first place. If I have you right, you're suggesting that there was no "first place." Does that imply that you accept some form of Hoylian steady state hypothesis, or a version of the oscillating universe in which life can somehow survive from one cycle to the next?

-- Yes. The existence of highly evolved life is hard evidence in favor of a universe with no [lifeless] beginning. If the universe is eternal, life needn't originate, and no miracles are required.

Or are you of the opinion that the ultimate origin of life lies beyond our ken? Whatever your views, I admire that you stand up to scientific orthodoxy with scientific rigor.

Kind regards,
David Darling, author "Life Everywhere," etc /

-- Thanks for your kind comments.... Sincerely, Brig

2002 Nov 1: Our review of Iris Fry's new book.

From: aaron kennedy
10/26/02 11:58 PM
Subject: long bet 44
-- Klyce replies: 28 Oct 2002

Dear Brig,

From various comments on your website, you appear to accept the emerging view that transposable genetic elements play a significant role in macroevolutionary events. And I also take it that you do not agree that transpositional activity is sufficient for sustained evolutionary progress in a genetically closed system (otherwise you would not have an open bet on

-- Right.

The immune system's production of antibodies occurs as a result of somatic recombination by RAG1 and RAG2 functioning as a transposase. The immune system is considered "adaptive" because it produces an extremely large variety of antibody molecules constituted by polypeptide chains with variable amino acid sequences. Most of the region coding for the variable amino acid segments forming the antibody polypeptides is a nucleotide sequence just a few thousand bases long.

The somatic recombination performed by the adaptive immune system appears to be fundamentally transpositional in nature.


1) if transpositional activity is responsible for macroevolutionary events

2) if the adaptive immune system produces novel proteins (an antibody molecule composed of two light and two heavy polypeptide chains joined by disulfide bonds) by transpositional activity

3) if the immune system is a genetically closed system consisting of a few thousand bases


4) sustained evolutionary progress is demonstrated in a genetically closed system every time I successfully fight off another influenzae infection!

I'm interested in what you think of the above reasoning. I think the counter argument might propose that the production of an antibody molecule doesn't constitute a macroevolutionary event. Perhaps one could suggest that a change in the specific affinity of an antigen-binding locus on an antibody molecule does not constitute a novel protein. But it seems hard to argue that a change in amino acid sequence doesn't constitute a novel protein and it seems quite obvious that the creation of novel proteins are the building blocks of every macroevolutionary event. And macroevolutionary events are the building blocks of sustained evolutionary progress.

-- (My essay at would be a helpful introduction to the following.)

-- If I say, "The account number of Andrew Carnegie's savings account at Mellon Bank in Detroit, Michigan, is 020229999," the whole sentence has meaning. But the account number by itself is _data_ that could be discovered by a brute force search, if one knew, "The account number of Andrew Carnegie's savings account at Mellon Bank in Detroit, Michigan, is [a nine-digit number]." Perhaps "Detroit, Michigan," if the search algorithm has sufficient previous knowledge, could also be placed in that category -- data that could be discovered by brute force. However, with no prompting except "Come up with some useful information," the brute force method acting on alphanumeric characters -- or even on a library of words and phrases -- will never discover the original sentence, nor anything at all useful and new.

-- Similarly, code-breaking systems can find the keys to powerful codes, but they cannot create new meaning.

-- I think the immune system is like a code-breaking system, using brute force to find keys or missing data. The same method will not invent new biological systems or features.

Of course, does this mean I'm suggesting that evolution occurs simply by administering a vaccine? Not really. I'm simply trying to propose evidence that transpositional activity is sufficient for sustained evolutionary progress in a closed system by painting the immune system as a metaphorical model.

-- To avoid quibbling over "progress," it's the "sustained" aspect that's lacking. The immune system has a definite range that it can explore rather thoroughly by brute force. It cannot, by its method, do more than it does now.

The immune system certainly seems to meet the criteria for an evolving system, that is it produces novel protein structures in a repeatable manner. And it behaves transpositionally - the same activity increasingly credited for significant evolutionary events. Essentially, I'm suggesting the immune system may be a kind of miniature reflection of the processes of evolution on the grand scale. To offer a quote from 'Transposable elements as a key to a 21st century view of evolution' by James A. Shapiro: (located at "The mechanistic similarities between immune system rearrangements and the action of many DNA-based transposable elements makes it clear that lymphocyte DNA changes are applications of a modified transposition mechanism (Agrawal et al., 1998; Hiom et al., 1998; Lewis, 1999)"

-- I don't know about the lymphocyte DNA changes. Perhaps transposition can explore other well-defined ranges. But can this process produce sustained progress? The phenomenon has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of any but the already-convinced. Sustained progress can happen in another way that is more plausible and has been amply demonstrated -- acquisition of new programs in an open system.

I hope you have the time to address the above points concerning your claim that sustained evolutionary progress has not been demonstrated in a genetically closed system. And I'd like to mention my surprise that your website doesn't detail any of the exciting research in RNA interference. Post-transcriptional silencing certainly could be an excellent candidate mechanism for your concept of installing "genetic software".

-- If I understand it correctly, post-transcriptional silencing would be part of a toolkit for debugging software, not for composing new software.

And last I'd like to mention I am sympathetic to the strong version of panspermia. I consider it highly likely that life traverses the vast gulfs of space and time by way of mobile genetic elements. As I'm sure you are aware, the adaptive immune system itself appears to be a fortuitous insertion into the genome of vertebrates.

Keep up the great work! ...Best regards, ...Aaron

-- Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.... Thanks. Brig

Macroevolutionary Progress Redefined... is the referenced CA essay.
2002 May 9: Bet on sustainable evolutionary progress? -- the related CA What'sNEW item.

From: Matt Bull
11:15 AM 01 Oct 2002
Subject: long bets

Mr. Klyce,

A friend of mine sent me to longbets, an odd and fascinating page. I ran into your bet, considering it the strangest of them all. I assumed you were a masked intelligent design advocate, stubbornly ignoring all the facts and evidence for darwinian point-mutation. I visited more out of bafflement at your position than genuine curiosity. Needless to say, I've been stunned to discover that the facts and evidence for point mutation leading to adaptation just aren't there! I've been devouring your site for the past three days. I still don't know exactly where I stand, but you make some very, very compelling points. And the site is uncharacteristically well-written (in general, but especially as far as science writing goes).

I'm curious if you plan to include somewhere on the site the new evidence for bacterial life in the atmosphere of Venus? I ran into it last week, before knowing anything about panspermia, so I've forgotten the details, but I think it was that strange patches in the UV absorption of the upper venus atmosphere can best be explained by active bacterial colonies.

Thanks for your work, ...Matt Bull

2002 May 9: Bet on sustainable evolutionary progress? -- the related CA What'sNEW item.

From: Gabriel Manzotti
8:15 AM 30 Aug 2002
Subject: Big Bang

Dear Brig

I'm following the thread between you and Ken Jopp on the 'Replies'. To this regard I think that the following Fred Hoyle's quotation could be also of interest.

'If hadronic matter would be infinitely old, it would, we can reasonably argue, have evolved to its lowest thermodynamic state, which would be nuclei of atomic number in the range 50, 60, the so called iron peak. Since most matter is not in this form it is a fair first step to say that most matter is not infinitely old, and if we are to avoid the logical impasse associated with the proposition that the entire universe originated all in a moment the inference must be that matter originated piecemeal, a position which forces the origin of matter to be described with mathematical precision, not imposed as a metaphysical assumption as in the 'Standard' Big Bang model, a position which forces the cosmological theory to be of an inflationary character, whether the form of 1948, or 1981, or some yet undiscovered form.' (AP&SS 198:195-230, 1992 'Mathematical theory of creation of matter,' pag 200.)

The 1948 date refers to his paper 'A new model for the expanding universe' (F. Hoyle 1948 Monthly Not. Royal Astron. Soc. 108, 372), and highlights the right temporal order in the introduction of models with an inflationary character, (that means with a scalar field that introduces negative pressure terms that drive the expansion in an exponential increasing way) with respect to later introduction like the 1981 Guth's one, which normally is considered the beginning of inflationary theories. Of course the rationale in the two cases is quite different.

Incidentally, besides expanding, the infinitely old Steady State universe 'accelerates': this is a prediction made in a pure deductive way by Tommy Gold, Herman Bondi, and (in a field theory form) Fred Hoyle in 1948, a prediction confirmed in 1999 by the Supernova type I-a Redshift - apparent magnitude diagram. It seems to me that today the majority of the Scientists tend, elegantly, to put aside this successful prediction.

Concerning the logical impasse referred by Hoyle, a further couple of quotations may help to understand:

In the same AP&SS paper (pag 199) Hoyle says 'the so called standard big Bang Model (standard actually only in the minds of those who wish it to be standard) contains an immediate self contradiction. The entire Universe is supposed to originate and yet the mathematical structure of the theory does not permit matter to originate. The logical position is as in a religious miracle, namely something happens which according to the rules is not supposed to happen.'

While in the 1948 paper, concerning the possibility of continuous creation of matter in cosmology, you may read:

'This possibility (the continuous creation of matter) seemed attractive especially when taken in conjunction with aesthetic objections to the creation of the universe in the remote past. For it is against the spirit of scientific enquiry to regard observable effects as arising from 'causes unknown to science', and this is in principle what creation in the past implies.'

Finally I fully agree with you Brig when you say that: >The existence of a physical world is unexplained, with or without a beginning. Why people find the former satisfying and the latter disturbing I don't understand.<

In my opinion the reason is definitely not a strictly scientific one, it doesn't depend on how good the various technical explanations are: to me it looks like a matter of, so to speak, uneasiness: I mean Humanity seems not still grown up enough to accept the less comfortable situation represented by an extended (in time, space and life) universe in which the importance of our earth-based Mankind looks someway diminished. Something like the attitude of the young child who wants everything for himself, who wants to stay always in the center of the stage (I was about to write 'in the center of the Universe' indeed a Freudian 'Lapsus').

And in my opinion this explains the success of principles like the Antropic one, as, in aiming somehow the universe toward the Man, they basically take care of the human uneasiness with respect to its surroundings.

Sincerely / Gabriel Manzotti / Monza Italy

Fred Hoyle... is a related CA webpage.
The End and the Big Bang is a related CA webpage.

From: Ken Jopp
21 Aug 2002
Subject: [The Big Bang]

...Lurching in another direction: As sympathetic as I am to the Cosmic Ancestry model, I think you eventually will need to come to terms with the Big Bang cosmology and posit a mechanism for the origin of biological life. I don't know how you can propose an ever-existing universe. If the universe has always existed, why hasn't the "heat death" of entropy put an end to it yet? What's the mechanism for the creation of new, unattached protons needed to form new stars? You probably have dealt with this somewhere on the site already-If so, please point me to the place. ...All the best, Ken

12:45 PM / Brig Klyce replies-- I do not understand cosmology enough to propose an alternate theory. But I have read enough to know that the subject is wide open. See for example a recent article -- "...Our Universe is so unlikely that we must be missing something," by Philip Ball, Nature Science Update, 13 Aug 2002. "...Either space is not accelerating for the reasons we think it is, or we have yet to discover some principle of physics."

The consensus behind the big bang is motivated partly by an unholy alliance between creationists and Darwinists -- it's the only issue they agree on. This consensus shouts down theories like mine and preserves the gridlock that has controlled public opinion concerning evolution for several decades.

The existence of a physical world is unexplained, with or without a beginning. Why people find the former satisfying and the latter disturbing I don't understand.

The evidence in biology indicates, to me, that life cannot originate from nonliving matter by natural means. If it can't, to avoid miracles, life must have always existed. This consequence does conflict with the usual interpretation of the big bang theory. If the big bang theory were as well established as, say, the theory of gravity, the conflict would send me back to the drawing board. But the big bang theory is not well-established, only widely-endorsed.

I have a few other comments on the big bang at ...Thanks. Brig

4:46 PM / Ken Jopp replies -- Brig, Thanks for the link to the cosmology article. Not, having read it yet or its Preprint source, I'll recommend the work of Lee Smolin, anyway, who argues that the unlikely combination of physical constants that makes our universe so peculiar is the result of Darwinian processes that acted on ancestral generations of universes. Universes beget universes in his model. See Smolin's book, The Life of the Cosmos

Also interesting in this regard is the work of Paola Zizzi. Check out

But setting aside the Big Bang, An infinitely olde universe is untenable unless there is a way to create new protons. Otherwise they all would have been fused in stars long ago and no new stars would be forming. Clearly there are BIG holes in our understanding of cosmological processes, but I think this is a big hole in the Cosmic Ancestry model as you pose it. ...Best, Ken

8:00 PM / Brig Klyce replies -- Dunno why a source for protons is more puzzling than a source for a universe. Anyway, thanks. ...Brig

22 Aug, 11:15 AM / Ken Jopp replies -- Whatever the Big Bang's difficulties, if you're going to propose that the history of the universe recedes infinitely into the past, then you need to account for its continuing existence in the form in which we see it. Why didn't the universe suffer its entropic "heat death" at a point infinitely long ago? The article you referenced describes a variation on the oscillating universe idea, but biological life would be extinguished between oscillations, so its origin still would have to be accounted for.

Please don't interpret any of this as "flaming" (do people still use that term for electronic insult matches? Seems like an archaic term already!) I'm in your corner, 99 percent of the time. ...K

22 Aug, 2 PM/ Brig Klyce replies -- But ways around this problem have been proposed. See for example: Steven Frautschi. "Entropy in an Expanding Universe" p 593-599 v 217, Science, 13 August 1982. (Life could persist as dust, away from the action.)

From: Stan Franklin
1:50 PM Tue 20 Aug 2002
Subject: By fits and starts, life may have begun

Brig, [you wrote]

Did you see the one "Chimps to humans by viruses"? at 020801

You were kind enough to send it to me (I had seed it before). It's certainly interesting work. However the prime interpretive statement needs to be put in context. They say

Our results suggest that a bust of transposable element activity may well have contributed to the genetic changes that led to the emergence of the human species

The split between the earliest hominids and the last common ancestor of us and the chimps has been estimated by the molecular biologists as occurring five to six million years ago. The most recent fossil find, in Chad, of a likely human ancestor is almost seven million years old. The date found in this study may not match.

The process of human evolution experienced three leaps, not one. The first was bipedalism (~7mya), the second the advent of tool manufacture (~2mya), and the third the development of symbolic culture (~0.5mya). There was, of course, more gradual evolution in between.

The retroviruses in question may well have contributed to the first of these leaps. ...Stan
Stan Franklin / Dunavant University Professor / Computer Science / Univ of Memphis

Chimps to humans by viruses? is the related CA What'sNEW item, 1 Aug 2002.

From: Kevin Keogh
Fri, 16 Aug 2002 01:28:42 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: I just happened upon your conversation with Ken Jopp

from almost a year ago. He challenges the theory of panspermia by asking: "If the seeds of life are so ubiquitous, then why is Earth the only planet with life?"

The critical concept here is that the vast majority of terran bodies (planet, moons, asteroids, trans-Neptunian objects, comets, etc.) that known extremophile microbes could possibly inhabit are not close enough to the Sun to exploit the energy transfer potential of photosynthesis. But consider that on Earth, several distinguished scientists have recently estimated that subterranean microbial communities that ultimately depend on geochemical energy may have a far greater total biomass than all surface life that depends on solar energy.

Furthermore, it is this subterranean chemosynthetic life that is best equipped to make long journeys through space buried deep in rocks after being dislodged from Earth's gravity well by impact events. Also note that if and when a microbially infested rock from Earth crashes into another terran body, it brings with it the kinetic energy necessary to bury itself under the surface of its newfound home, potentially liberate subsurface liquid water, and/or temporarily melt any nearby ice.

Given our best current scientific understanding, it is probable that the general model of terran microbial infestation would consist of local subterranean populations of dormant microbes that simply multiply until all the liquid water and chemical nutrients in their local vicinity are exhausted. After which these dormant populations would simply wait for a subsequent impact event to send them on another dormant journey through space to perhaps repeat the entire process or for a new supply of liquid water to arrive via impacts or geo-activity.

This model of infestation predicts local and confined populations of dormant microbes will exist on any nearby terran body that has a temperature/pressure gradient such that liquid water can be found at a depth that might feasibly be encountered by an infected impactor. Earth would be an exception simply in that its distance from the Sun allowed for a uniquely long-lasting and planetary-wide symbiosis between photosynthetic surface and chemosynthetic subsurface life to (emerge over hundreds of millions and) sustain itself over billions of years.

On Mars and Venus, any surface life that perhaps emerged historically may have run its course long ago. Meanwhile, dormant (and perhaps even currently metabolizing) subsurface ecosystems could easily be ubiquitous, if yet unconfirmed, throughout the solar system. Note that the best current scientific evidence suggests that--even in the remote chance that life developed from non-life only on Earth--dormant Earthly subterranean chemosynthetic microbes would be expected to have already landed on the vast majority of known terran bodies over the long 4 billion year history of Earthly microbial life. Considering this, we would expect to find extraterrestrial evidence of at least these Earthly microbes (and in some fortuitous cases their direct descendents) on almost any nearby terran body we inspect rigorously and completely.

Furthermore, currently living terran bodies may potentially be more universally identified by signs of active subsurface hydrogeology than by signs of atmospheric disequilibria--which are far more important to surface photosynthetic than to subsurface chemosynthetic life. ...Kevin Keogh

Terms and Conditions is the referenced "Reply" from Jopp, 15 Aug 2001.

From: Jopp, Ken
Mon, 12 Aug 2002 13:28:10 -0500
Subject: What's that buzzing sound? Evolution!

Dear Brig,
Fascinating story on your site, 1 August: Evolutionary advance from chimps to humans linked to viruses -- Got me thinking about the growing concern over the West Nile virus, a cause of illness and sometimes death, which is spreading across the United States. This virus is spread by mosquito, so the plot thickens. If some viruses are introduced to their hosts by mosquitoes, and some of those viruses play a role in evolution, then perhaps we ought to take a moment to pay homage to the lowly mosquito. It may be that this noble servant of evolution has been unjustly maligned by countless generations of campers, golfers, and backyard barbequeists.

When we bulldoze rainforests here while protecting wetlands there, are we unwittingly shaping evolutionary patterns to come? What are the full ecological dynamics of mosquitoes? I'm itching to know. We might just be scratching the surface here . . . . Best, Ken

Chimps to humans by viruses? is the related CA What'sNEW item, 1 Aug 2002.

From: Doug
Fri, 26 Jul 2002 18:41:56 +0100
Subject: Explanation of Entropy on Panspermia Website.

Hi ... No doubt you receive similar emails, but I feel that your explanation of Entropy on the Panspermia Web site is slightly confusing, if not a little wrong.... You tender the idea that there are two types of entropy, Thermodynamic Entropy and Logical Entropy. There is only one. (Remember, physics is about measurement in its purest form.) Take Boltzmann's equation.

S = Entropy,
k = Boltzman's Constant,
log = Natural log,
X = Number of States in a system.

Entropy is simply a measure of the number of states in a system. Physicists have long used logarithms to handle large quantities. Every state is associated with an energy, and processes generally dissipate into states which have lower energies. In otherwords, single high energy states dissipate into many low energy states.

Take an example from Shu's "The Physical Universe". (CH3 or CH4)

Consider a simple system, such as a photon. It could start as a gamma ray generated in a fusion reaction between two hydrogen atoms in the Sun. Over a 100,000 years it bounces around inside the Sun interacting with plasma slowly degenerating into many other photons all of the wave-length of visible light.

Having left the atmosphere of the Sun a fraction of these photons have a chance of interacting with the Earth. Some are reflected back into space, others are absorbed by ground either to re-radiated as infra-red radition or turned into convective motion for the atmosphere or ocean currents. Some even reaches life to sustain the processes which keep it alive.

But the key thing to remember, whether it be living systems, or an interaction with inanimate matter, the net effect of visible photons of light interacting with the Earth, is the expulsion of a larger number of photons leaving in the infra-red. Conservation of energy is preserved with only an increase in entropy.

It is far easier to discuss entropy from a micro-scopic, quantum, perspective that a macro-scopic, phase changing, high level one. The sense of the fragmentation of system is lost on the ordinary reader. Keep it simple.

(Aside) Contrasting the difference between "Open system" dynamics, such as above, and Thermodynamics, "Quasi-closed" systems dynamics, is the right way to go. Ilya Prigogine work in chemistry in analysing far from Equilibrium states in open systems is valid, as even he claims there is where life can be analysed. Traditional thermo-dynamics only analyses interactions between systems in near equilibrium, largely because they are simpler. Chaos is just far to complex to breakdown in any exact linear fashion.

Order Out of Chaos : Man's New Dialogue With Nature

Logical entropy appears to me a misnomer. Your just really talking about plain entropy from an information theory perspective. There is an interpretation that

" Entropy is a measure of the amount of information we have discarded when we view a system from the outside: the movements of a gas as a temperature, a series of letters as a number of symbols. If we are inside the system, we can obtain this information if we can be bothered. If we are outside the system, we have 'thrown it away' - or have never possessed it."

The User Illusion...Tor Norretranders

(Aside) Norretranders discusses a concept of exformation and logical depth in the context of computation and algorithmic complexity theory. This is an interesting advance on discussions on just the second law of thermodynamics. His ideas are applied to consciousness. Could not the same analysis be applied to living systems?

Living systems have a phenotype and genotype. The first is the physical manifestation of the system. The genotype could be considered to be the exformation by which the physical manifestion operates and is built. The genotype itself is as open to change as the phenotype that it directs and assembles. The question as to the origin of life has always been the 'chicken and egg' problem. Which came first? Is it possible for a genotype to exist without a phenotype? And if the phenotype is more important, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the initial phenotype to form and hence have a structure to support the genotype? What is the initial exforming process, that is required to produce a self replicator from basic chemical compounds? And how much entropy, or energy fragmentation, is discarded in the process of producing this resultant residue?

And thinking around this subject, particularly with respect to Godel-Chaitin Complexity, would it not be reasonable to investigate whether life is a necessity for production of more life....

[Klyce, 27 July] I have one primary disagreement with you. You say, "Every state is associated with an energy...." Every physical state may be associated with an energy, but information is theoretically independent of energy. Practically, encoded information has a physical carrier, but the content is the same, whether the carrier is newsprint, radio waves, magnetic tape, skywriting, DNA, whatever.

[Doug, 30 July] The rendering of any physical state, or ensemble of states, has an energy, or array of energies, associated with it. We agree....

The fundamental currency of any physical interaction involves energy interchange. How can you have information without energy? Information interchange involves energy interchange or transferal.

If you've dealt with quantum mechanics you'd have discovered that each state, has an energy associated with it. As you build up to a macrostate you have countless numbers of substates making up the system your investigating.

The split in ideas between Thermodynamic and 'Logical' entropy occured to me in my undergraduate years. It was this study of the quantum nature of matter which allowed me to see how the small makes up the large....

The physical medium upon which the message is carried or stored has states, and energy which is dissipated. A certain type of frog can register the reception of light when receiving 5 photons of light. There gives the lower bound in energy usage and bandwidth for the communication of a simple message.

If your talking about the representation of information, quantising information, 1's and 0's, yes this representation can be in held in different forms. There is a practical energy cost in en-scribing the medium upon which it is stored, and even and energy cost in accessing that medium to return the information that it contains. Shannon's information theory goes into great detail about information transferal and maximum bandwidths, but he doesn't discuss meaningful content. You may have information, but do you apprehend what it means. You may have a CDROM of an encyclopaedia, with a lot of information, but unless its in a language you understand its just noise. But the measure of Shannon's information for two equivalent CDROMs, one with noise, one with meaningful content, is the same.

This information is still render and transmittied as physical states. What you are suggesting is the information is metaphysical. I think that it is physical and that it can be be measured.

The interpretation that is tendered in my last email is that entropy is the information discarded when viewing a system from the outside....

I thought that another line of thought on the nature of entropy would be valid to bring into this forum. My summary of physics boils down to a quip derived from two Irish geniuses; William Caley Hamilton derived the 'least action principle' which applies from General Relativity to Quantum Mechanics; Lord Kelvin formulated the Second Law of thermodynamics were entropy in a closed system always increases; Open system dynamics are far more complex and difficult to formalise.

" Its line of least resistance, and everything falls to its lowest possible state. Life is that strange exception." ;-)

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the referenced CA webpage.

From: paul morgan
thu 27 June 2002, 10:50 AM
Subject: influenza

I am writing to let you know that I live in a caravan in Melbourne, Australia and have done so since March. I don't know many people in Melbourne and have used the time here to study on the internet and to put the finishing touches to my science fiction comedy BANG. My caravan has an annex attached and I use this for toilet purposes, as opposed to using the toilet block.
The point that I am making is that I have lived quite an isolated life here although I have been to the supermarket and the pub. Nearly everyone in this caravan park got flu at the same time (myself included). The implications seem obvious. Best regards ...Paul Morgan.

Influenza from Space? is the related CA webpage.

Discussion at:
Brig Klyce, Jonathan B. Sheppard and others
Date: 2002 June 5 and following
Subject: Bet #44 on Sustainable Evolutionary Progress in a Genetically Closed System

By 2020, in real or artificial life, sustainable evolutionary progress in a genetically closed system will be demonstrated -- jump to Long Bets discussion page.
2002 May 9: Bet on sustainable evolutionary progress? -- the related CA What'sNEW item.

To: Colleen Howell, NASA Ames Research Center
Brig Klyce
Date: 2002 June 5 - Wed 12:35 AM
Subject: comments on Astrobiology Roadmap Draft

Dear Dr. Howell --

Thanks to NASA, Dr. Des Marais and you for giving me this opportunity to respond to the draft of the Astrobiology Roadmap.

While NASA's approach to astrobiology is innovative, the wording of the current (May 24) revision precludes the radical possibility that life comes from the infinite past. One elaboration of this possibility, strong panspermia, is fully scientific and has many merits. (Its biggest weakness is its conflict with a standard interpretation of the big bang theory.)

I hope you will consider changes to the draft that would include infinite-past scenarios like strong panspermia.

With respect to the Introduction and Goal 3:

For NASA to include consideration of infinite-past scenarios, the origin of life from chemical precursors would no longer be an initial assumption. Instead it would become one possibility. Another possibility would be that life arrives from elsewhere. Each possibility should be considered on its scientific merits.

And so, for example, where you say "How does life begin?" I would suggest "How does life emerge?" Similar changes would affect many sentences in these sections.

With respect to Goal 5:

"Although we recognize that the diversity of life as we know it was formed via Darwinian evolutionary processes..." You are aware that the importance of horizontal gene transfer mechanisms in evolution is becoming recognized. A specific mention of gene transfer as an important evolutionary mechanism would implicitly include infinite-past scenarios in your scope.

Thank you for considering these comments! ...Sincerely, Brig Klyce...

Astrobiology ROADMAP: Draft of Proposed Revision—May 24, 2002, Ames Research Center, NASA.

From: Gabriele Manzotti
2002 May 1 - Wed 5:35 AM
Subject: New Universe, old methods

Dear Brig

I'm an Italian visitor of your website. I find it very interesting and I appreciate very much your effort to keep it constantly updated. Please don't give up.

I read about the Princeton's Physicist New Cosmological Theory about the neverending oscillating universe. Although I'm fairly grown up to know how these things normally works, I never get used to it.

As you know, much better than me, almost ten years ago Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge, and Jayant Narlikar published their Quasi Steady State Cosmology, in which their universe shows a neverending oscillation superimposed to an overall expansion. The period of a single oscillation is 40 billion years and the universe doubles its scale in 800 billion years.

Although I suspect it, I wonder how is it possible to say that "now we have two disparate possibilities". Just to keep myself decent, I would preferably say "now we have a new alternative to the alternative"! I'm asthonished.

Anyway, last year Sir Fred Hoyle has passed and, apart from his disceples, I wonder who is going to pour new viable ideas in Cosmology, at least in the very next future. I foresee bad times for the followers. They have to lead now!

Gabriel Manzotti | Monza | Italy

Could the universe have always existed? is the related CA What'sNEW item, 27 Apr 2002.

From: Walter ReMine
4/11/02 3:34 PM
Subject: The Biotic Message


Thanks for the note that you received the book and for the good news that you are enjoying it.

I had been wrestling with information theory, and the definition of information. It seemed to me that Shannon's theory lacked something -- a distinction between information that did or did not contain a message.

Yes, I agree, and that made Shannon's theorem awkward to apply to many of the cases one would like to apply it to.

Genes contain messages, even specific kinds of messages -- instructions. I could not see a way for random processes to compose messages, much less instructions.

Yes, though I describe it this way. The fitness terrain has contour -- it has hills and valleys, mountains and deep crevasses -- and that shape can PREVENT large-scale evolution. (The book explains how.) So SOME amount of small, localized, biological change or "improvement" is possible, but large-scale evolution is entirely another matter.

I believe the same applies to the notion of "instructions". That is, some simulations have been done where something like computer "instructions" evolve and change -- but not over a seriously contoured fitness terrain under natural conditions. Not large-scale evolution.

As you know, I am promoting not creationism or ID, but a scientific answer to Darwinism that retains "naturalism" entirely. My theory does not attempt to answer the question, "How did life originate?" but points out that the phenomenon -- life's origination -- is an entirely theoretical concept. Life doesn't need to originate, if the big bang theory is amended slightly. Same with evolutionary progress. It could be local development of life that is already highly evolved.

I agree, the Big Bang (or finite age to the Universe as we know it) would have to be gotten around somehow if life were to just 'always exist' and need no origin. Conversely, since a biotic message sender is (according to my theory) out to thwart ALL alternative explanations, a finite age universe (e.g. the evidences for the Big Bang) is supportive of my theory.

There are features of the universe (such as its "fine-tuning", etc.) which support design. Also, the Big Bang (finite-age universe) supports Message Theory (by thwarting the possibility that life just "always existed"). Also there are peculiar features of the Earth's crust (the fact that the fossil record -- full of many marine organisms and sedimentary fossils -- is stacked up ON LAND for easy visibilty) likewise supports Message Theory. These are non-biological features, and are discussed in the book.

But Message Theory is primarily about about BIOLOGICAL patterns, and it is here, in the patterns of life, that Message Theory has many more interesting things to add. There are many ways that Message Theory could have failed concerning these biological patterns.

In other words, Message Theory relies on a good number of independent features (from biology, from cosmology, from the geology of the fossil record) and if any one of them failed, then Message Theory would have completely failed. This 'threading the needle' through many diverse types of data is what makes Message Theory important science, rather than merely a pleasant idea. Let me put it this way, without the evidence for a finite-age universe (e.g. Big Bang), then my theory would have failed, regardless of the biological data. Without the visibility, on Earth, of the fossil record, then my theory would have failed, regardless of the Big Bang. Without a sufficiently established 'completeness' of the fossil record, my theory would have failed. If clear-cut lineages were present over a large-scale, my theory would have failed. If dis-unified lifeforms exist on earth, then my theory would have failed, regardless of the fossil record. And so on, and so forth, through many lines of evidence. Like a chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link.

I stress that point to you, as you are more likely than most people to see its importance. You are focusing on a particular 'link' -- the Big Bang -- and its meaning as an alternative explanation of origins. Taken by itself most people would not see its importance. But you see it. And I believe you will surely see how a finite-age universe can be a key link in a chain of reasoning that points to a biotic message sender.

I say all the above as a way, hopefully, of exciting you onward concerning the implications of Message Theory. I believe you will find it a thought provoking book.

Please write again soon as you have questions or thoughts.

Sincerely, -- Walter ReMine
Fellow with Discovery Institute
Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture
The Biotic Message

19 Apr 2002 / PS --

Keep in mind that my book is a BIOLOGY book, far and away. It focuses not on cosmology, not on age-dating, not on religion, not on a god or designer. Rather it focuses on the biological patterns before us, and offers a new, TESTABLE, scientific theory to explain them. It is about biological patterns.

That is how Message Theory arose -- from the biological evidences. By itself that is a book-full. The core theory is startling, for it claims (in part) that life was designed to look like the product of ONE designer and to resist ALL OTHER interpretations.

As I pondered Biotic Message Theory I realized that some people would (however reasonably) attempt to thwart it by claiming that life just always existed, and therefore life's origin need not be explained. And I saw that the Big Bang (or finite-age) cosmologies put a serious crunch on any such attempts. So I touched on this issue in my book.

In this way, various peripheral issues crept in -- e.g. Big-Bang-like cosmologies, the fine-tuned universe; extraterrestrials; and the curious visibility on-land of an abundant sedimentary/marine fossil record. Message Theory did not originate with these in mind. Yet it happens that all these matters happen to fall in a direction supportive of Message Theory.

Let me emphasize again in closing -- my book is not about fringe issues (extraterrestrials, Big-Bang, etc.), though it touches briefly on those. The book's focus is biology.

From: Lawrence Hearn
Thu, 21 Mar 2002 16:29:31 -0500
Subject: ET organisms, Times of India article


I have been a great fan of your website ever since I first discovered it 3 years ago. The work of Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe in keeping this ember of truth burning has always had my admiration. The discovery of archae and other extremophiles, the long term survival of bacterial spores, fossilzed organisms in meteorites - the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. Now the actual first identification of extra terrestrial organisms is really very exciting.

I thought you might be ineterested in the article from The Times of India today in their Science section -

every happiness....
lawrence hearn

"Scientists find signs of life in cosmic sample" [text], The Times of India, 22 Mar 2002.
An Atmospheric Test of Cometary Panspermia is the related CA webpage.

To: Stan Franklin
Brig Klyce
Date: 11:20 AM Fri, 28 Feb 2002
Subject: Re: ...Testing the neutral theory of molecular evolution

Dear Stan --

Adaptive mutation is a very interesting phenomenon. As I understood it prior to this article, stress can induce mutations at a rate faster than the normal one. The phenomenon can be restricted to certain loci, as this research notes, in which case the term "directed mutation" is sometimes used.

This phenomenon could help a species wriggle out of an environmentally induced crisis, for example. That would be a helpful mechanism in darwinian evolution. It would be helpful in the strong panspermia scenario also.

I am beginning to realize that strong panspermia doesn't oppose darwinism directly, but rather points out that darwinism may lack one important capability -- the capability to go uphill. Adaptive mutation, although it may be important, wouldn't supply the lacking capability. The resulting move is still sideways or downhill....

Thanks. Best regards. Brig

Justin C. Fay et al. "Testing the neutral theory of molecular evolution with genomic data from Drosophila" [abstract], p 1024-1026 v 415 Nature, 28 Feb 2002 -- describes the research that prompted this exchange.
How Is It Possible? is a CA webpage that discusses adaptive mutation.

From: Jim Lewandowski
7:56 AM Thu, 14 Feb 2002
Subject: The Ancient Egyptians believed in panspermia

Their incredibly thorough "religion" (science WAS religion back then) showed that they believed the earth (and mankind) were seeded from space via the meteorites from an exploded planet. They believed the cataclysmic impact is what brought water to earth AND allowed mankind to eventually evolve.

Plato's story of Atlantis is the re-telling of this religious/creation belief.

Exploded Planets, by Alan F. Alford

Jim Lewandowski -- jimlewandowski[at]

From: Alvaro Garcia
1:06 PM Fri, 01 Feb 2002
Subject: nitrogen compounds in comets spoken of in 1906

Four years before the discovery in 1910 of cyanide compounds in comets' spectra, Rudolf Steiner said in in a conference cycle in Paris (from the 25 mai to the 14 june 1906), that comets were rests of an early age in which the earth, the moon and the comets were united. He said that the difference between that age and our age was that early beings needed nitrogen and some nitrogen compounds as prussian acid and cyanides, in the same way that present living beings on earth need oxygen, while those compounds are letal for today's higher organisms. He added that scientists could look for cyanides in comets, and he even said that the moon was dry and frozen [ice was discovered recently], and that it takes matter from space [like comets do].

Edouard Schuré (1906,1957) "L'ésoterisme chrétien". Paris. | Rudolf Steiner, volume number 94 of complete works (in German). | Rudolf Steiner (1910,1978) "L'apparition du Christ dans le monde ethérique". Ed. Antrhoposophiques Romandes. Genève (volume 118 in German).

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