COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2009 - Replies Index - 2007 | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved
Science, as you know, goes down the wrong track for many decades.... Then eventually it takes a U-turn — Bruce Runnegar, former Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute [Scoop, 2 Oct 2008.]

Replies to Cosmic Ancestry, 2008

23:09:39 +0200: When large comets hit the Earth, boulders with organic debris splash back into space. Dormant microbes preserved inside tiny rock fragments become "biological nucleators," condensing around their cells protective snowflakes, raindrops, and slushy vapor shields at lofty altitudes. I'll bet you that when enough bacterial nucleators in space gather together by "quorum sensing," they produce precursor comet cores. ...Peter Kapnistos | American journalist, editor, and publisher now residing in the Eastern Mediterranean islands
"Living Proto-Cells Made in Space" [
9-page pdf] and "Shock Waves Encode 'Lifecloud' Computer" [10-page pdf], 2008.

17:10:27 -0600: Brig, i found this article fascinating: Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?, 10 Dec 2008 - New Scientist Online, by Anil Ananthaswamy. hope you're well! justin
The End and the Big Bang is a related CA webpage.

17:40:45 GMT: Hi Brig, Would you like to carry our attached comment on the Princeton claim to solve a non-issue, namely the sharing of life-seeds in a star-birth cloud? The paper [on which we comment] is on Arxiv: Minimal Energy Transfer of Solid Material Between Planetary Systems, Belbruno et al. [] apparently to come out in Astrophys J. Letters. Best wishes / Max
Max K. Wallis and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, "Transfer of Spores Between Planetary Systems" [1-page doc], Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, c. 9 Sep 2008.

11:56 AM: Brig - Is the the way Phoenix ends, not with a bang but a whimper? Has there been no follow up on soil analyses?!?
Phoenix fades away by Eric Hand, doi:10.1038/456008a, p 8-9 v 456 Nature, online 5 Nov 2008.
...Life on Mars! is a related CA webpage.

08:38 AM: When you answered the question (What is Life), you got it wrong and failed the test. The question of Life is not a biological question. I believe that scientist have become so proud of their own ability to think outside the box, they have forgot that the question was (what was inside the box). You have answered what the outside of the box looks like but you have failed to address what is inside that box called life.

Life is not a question about cells. The question of Life is a question on what, when, where, why and how. Scientist sit proud as if the have answered the question of life because they can tell you the mechanics of the outside of the box, but they have no idea of what is inside that box. What causes and allows these mechanics of the box to work? What causes them to stop working? What causes these mechanics to think on their own without uniformity? The ability to thinking is not something that can be touched by a microscope, and yet it is dismissed as if it does not exist. The ability to feel is something that can not be examined by a microscope, and yet it is dismissed as if it does not exist. The individuality of that cellular organism as you might call it can not be explained by a microscope, because individuality is not physical. I can go on but I think you see my point.

I hope you can see that you have not even touched the surface of what life is, and maybe realize that the tears of a man that wants to know what life is has nothing to do with the physical. There is another side of life and that is what is inside the box.

Thanks, Charles

What Is Life? is the mentioned CA webpage.

The Origin of Form Was Abrupt Not Gradual: Stuart Newman interviewed by Suzan Mazur, Archaeology, 11 Oct 2008.
Woodstock of evolution?: a What'sNEW article mentioning Newman, 20 Sep 2008.

09:36:13 +0200: Hi Brig, The attached paper (which is supposed to be coming out in an edited collection sometime this decade) is the best, most complete written expression of my thoughts on the general issue you raise. You'll have to judge if it really addresses the question you raise; I'm unsure. I would not mean to say "Unlike the real world, the outcome of computer evolution is built into its programming", so I was either misquoted or misspoke. The point I was probably trying to express is that the behavior of most current ALife models is strongly limited by the imagination of their designers. We need models that can give rise to an unending series of kinds of innovations of which the designers' never dreamed. In a straightforward sense, these behavior would still be "built into its programming" but only in an emergent sense, not at all explicitly.

By the way, there were two presentations at ALife XI that made me think we might have solved or are close to solving the problem of open-ended evolution (the papers with first authors Bas Straatman and Richard Watson). You might want to check them. You have to use your imagination a bit to see the connection, and I'm not sure the analysis will withstand detailed scrutiny (too early), but I'm cautiously optimistic. The proceedings is available online from the conference web site.

Hope all is well with you, and best wishes for launching the Evolution Prize. ...Ciao! ...Mark

Mark A. Bedau, "The Evolution of Complexity" [26-page PDF], presented at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, 9 Jun 2006.
Proceedings of Artificial Life XI, Conference: 5-8 Aug 2008
Something is missing... is the What'sNEW article that quotes Bedau, 8 Aug 2008.
The Evolution Prize... is a CA webpage with information and links about the mentioned prize.

11:59:29: Three different trends in physics each suggest that our universe is just one of many....
Big Bangs by the Bajillion?: A Conference on the Multiverse, by Dan Falk, Sky & Telescope, 18 Sep 2008.
The End and the Big Bang is a related CA webpage.

03:45:10 -0500: Brig, Do I remember some [ART] support of this work? Stan
Report: cells "from space" have unusual makeup,, 8 Sep 2008.

07:10 AM: Stan, I was interested in the red rain from the first report, but ART has not supported it. The lack of DNA makes me suspicious.
The red rain of Kerala — our first discussion of the phenomenon, with links, in What'sNEW, 23 Oct 2003.

08:27:39 -0500: [re: Chandra Wickramasinghe and life on Mars]

12:08:10 +0100: Hi Brig... Found this article on physorg and thought of u. Earth's leak atmosphere is apparently confirmed. In my mind this also would act as a conduit for microbes and spores to transit onwards to escape to the solar system.

11:36:45 -0700 (PDT): Brig, I'm going to guess that you resisted the temptation to look into Corewars. That's very reasonable. Corewars is not everyone's cup of tea and life is short. For me to go into specifics, I would have to bring up a lot of evolved computer code. I find it fascinating but it is, to put it mildly, an acquired taste. Even passionate Corewars players usually find looking at evolved code painful and annoying.

So I will make a few comments but not try to back them up. (That's much less work, anyway.) I once spent a lot of time evolving pure Corewars programs and also experimenting with different ways of contaminating them with hand written programs. I think it would not be a bad model for considering the nuts and bolts of how Cosmic Ancestry might potentially work.
-         Some powerful strategies, common in hand written programs, never seem to arise in evolved programs.
-         In terms of quarantine, it's useful to consider separately the issue of contamination by injecting hand written code segments and the issue of contamination by including hand written programs in the environment. Placing handwritten programs in the environment can direct evolutionary pressure to evolve counters to strategies not seen in pure evolved programs. It can also stall progress by encouraging "bad habits."
-         Some forms of contamination leave a population free to continue evolving; with others the population gets stuck in a mediocre local minima and can't improve.

09:03 PM: Dear Dave -- ...Yes I "resisted the temptation" on Corewars. On the two kinds of contamination -- injecting code is part of the initial conditions in my scheme. A run of my contemplated experiments can begin only after the supplying of code is complete. Code injected or code in the environment are both OK. In Cosmic Ancestry (CA), the latter will be disseminated by viruses or other mechanisms, then genomic software management will install and activate the code, and natural selection will allow it to remain and be optimized, or not.

-         When an uncontaminated population stops innovating, it hasn't actually stopped finding innovations, it has stopped finding innovations that can immediately compete with the highly tuned members of the current population. Allowing the hopeful monsters to pioneer a new niche greatly improves their chances of eventually producing competitive descendants.
-         It's a tough problem: figuring out how to deliberately contaminate a population in such a way that microevolution still takes place and it gradually evolves into the particular form(s) you want.

In my understanding, microevolution needs no contamination, it happens when existing, installed programs are varied, for example by point mutations, and optimized by natural selection. This is an incremental and short-range process. It may make new forms, perhaps as fractal algorithms make a variety of forms with algorithms that are very short.

"New forms" is not the same as new functions. In general, new functions require new code that is not short. For example, in a recent analysis of new _drosophila_ genes, the _de novo_ ones all arrived with at least 300 properly sequenced nucleotides. Microevolution has not been shown to produce these. It would be monkeys writing Shakespeare. Doesn't happen.

I'm just trying to set the stage by explaining where I'm coming from. Here's another anecdote. After reading a lot of Gould's writings, I had a conversation with a biologist and asked about punctuated equilibrium. Her answer was "as with most great dichotomies, both sides are right." I think that was a wise answer. There's plenty of evidence, in the fossil record, to support punctuated equilibrium and plenty to support gradualism. It looks like both of them happen some of the time.
No argument. In my opinion, in general, microevolution does the gradual, and supplied new code does the jumps. However, some jumps may have as their most proximate prior cause a small mutation in a regulatory sequence that unlocks a program supplied much earlier.

Now, consider your challenge (not the specifics). Assume, for the sake of discussion, after life started (somehow) on Earth that it was in fact capable of OEEIQS after all. How much damage would that do to Cosmic Ancestry? I say, not much. For instance, it might still be the case that the particular organisms we have on Earth could not (for all practical purposes) have evolved in the absence of contamination.
This [assumption: life is capable of OEEIQS] would make cosmic ancestry unnecessary. My primary supporting argument is that it is necessary.

You believe that, if Darwinistic evolution really occured on Earth, it would be strange if we weren't able to model it on computers today.

I've spent my adult life working on things like robotics and machine vision. The gulf between what we can do on computers and the feats accomplished by the simplest of creatures around us is shrinking but still humbling and vast. I think your assumption is way off the mark.
Feats accomplished such as flight? Or pattern recognition? We're doing them. But if you mean feats like turning prokaryotes into eukaryotes, snakes, birds and people, I think you have made the off-the-mark assumption. These may come from supplied programs. Which do you mean?

And would modeling Cosmic Ancestry be any easier? Imagine challenging biologists to take a vat of yeast and bombard it with viruses to produce a lobster. It might be possible, but not with today's technology. I wouldn't sign up to try the computer equivalent either.
James Watson wrote in 1986 that putting the entire human genome into [some 6-digit number of] plasmids was a "trivial problem." Reference on request. Genetic engineering is doing this kind of stuff.

There is an old joke about a traveler who stops to ask the locals for directions on the next leg of his journey. The group considers, in detail, several candidate routes, ultimately rejecting them all. Eventually they reach agreement: "you can't get there from here." I've looked at both of your challenges and your discussions about them in detail. There are plenty of problems that could be remedied, but fixing them wouldn't change this into something viable. In my opinion, you can't get there from here.
It may be the case that "you can't get there from here." If you mean that OEEIQS can't be demonstrated, then that's a very profound scientific fact. It has implications for the way evolution works. Do you think that if OEEIQS can't be demonstrated, there's still no reason to doubt that it happens?

I like your website and I like the blog on it. They are worth doing and you do them well. - Dave
Thanks for the kind remarks. ...Best regards. Brig

The Evolution Prize... is a related CA webpage.
evolutionary computation and cosmic ancestry is the subject of earlier email from Hillis, posted on The Evolution Prize website, 5 Aug 2008.

Sat, 23 Aug 2008 20:12:14 -0700 (PDT): Brig, ...In discussions before an audience, or when anticipating publication, it's easy to become so on-message that one stops listening to other people. I'm prone to this problem myself. For whatever reason, I'm left feeling that nothing I said got through.

Please, at least look at the tub of yeast to a lobster one again. Obviously, a yeast cell with some lobster genes is not a lobster. On your website, you discuss some other critical steps in such a CA evolutionary transformation. Imagine writing a computer program or a laboratory protocol that specifies every single step from tub of yeast to tub of lobsters.

10:23 AM 8/24/2008: Dear Dave -- I hope you don't feel that nothing you said in your last email got through. I thought I responded thoughtfully to most of your points. I realize from pretty long experience that when people see the world differently, communication between them can be difficult. But with patience and good will, maybe we'll succeed.

You ask me to "look at the tub of yeast to a lobster one again." There you ask, "And would modeling Cosmic Ancestry be any easier?" I am tempted to ask, Are You Kidding? But that does not communicate good will. Anyway, yes, I think it would be a lot easier. May I make an analogy with written text --

Suppose we want to produce, in a quarantined system, a lengthy text, such as the US Constitution. In the darwinian scheme, without a template, we would be waiting for the monkeys who write Shakespeare to produce the Constitution along the way. It will never happen.

But suppose the Constitution already exists; however it is fragmented. Maybe some fragments as short as a paragraph or two, and broken at illogical points. With syntax- and spell-checking software, and lots of puzzle-solving effort, it could be done. Are you with me?

Same with the lobster. Only now, it can't happen in one step. There must be consolidation at intermediate stages, and the correct code for a viable next stage must be available at the right time. Of course, these events must happen in darwinism as well. But also, in darwinism, the code is not available in lengthy fragments, it must be composed from scratch.

Even under cosmic ancestry, the process requires billions of years and astronomical numbers of trials, and still it usually fails before ...civilization emerges. Yes, it is not an easy process. But it is a _lot_ easier than darwinism. If you think it is not easier, do you think that having the code already available in sizable fragments introduces offsetting difficulties that darwinism does not encounter? What would those be? Or anyway, why is it not a lot easier?

Hoping I have not annoyed you. Truly interested in your thoughts. Thanks. Best regards. Brig

Mon, August 25, 2008 1:47 AM: Brig, I am not annoyed nor trying to annoy. Communication does indeed always involve some challenges and need for patience. Let's proceed. Suppose we were to start a debate about the lobster scenario. It would be a total waste of time. We haven't agreed on what any of the terms mean; it keeps going back and forth between biology and computer science (where the same words mean different things anyway); we haven't agreed on what standards of evidence are required; we haven't even agreed on what each side is claiming. We could chase each other all over the map and never resolve anything. If one side gave any ground, another analogy could always be summoned up to bring us back to square one. Now what if, to make it interesting, we added a friendly wager that if one of us acknowledged that the other had proved his point, we would hand over $20K in goods or services. It wouldn't stay friendly for long. Now we would even have a financial incentive not to be "reasonable."

When I say "you can't get there from here," I don't mean that you will lose a debate. I mean that the debate itself will not work out. I believe that your concept of the evolution prize involves a perverse mixture of ambiguity, subjectivity, and the appearance of conflict of interest; and that it is doomed to fail as a project. By fail as a project, I mean that others will not take it seriously, the relevant issues will not be resolved (nor much illuminated), your reputation will be tarnished, and you will be disappointed. I am not some oracle, such that you must believe what I say just because I say it. But others have told you the same thing, and some of these guys really ought to know.

Enough about process. Let's see if we can get on the same page technically. Let's say, we wish to terraform a lifeless planet by bombarding it with microbes such that, in a few billion years, there will be lobsters in the ocean. The first key question is whether they need to be actual lobsters or if some other creature would be acceptable just so long as a reasonable person would accept that it was as sophisticated as a lobster. - Dave

09:57 AM: Dear Dave -- I actually thought we had already gotten beyond square one. And I don't know if we need to characterize our exchange as a debate, even though we may disagree about some fundamentals. You seem open to the evidence, wherever it may point.

On the lobster scenario, you asked, "And would modeling Cosmic Ancestry be any easier?" I answered yes and elaborated a bit. I asked if you think otherwise and invited you to elaborate. Certainly some other creature, familiar or not, would be acceptable. I am still interested in your answer. BTW, I have a discussion of this scenario, written at least twelve years ago, at

And if there are terms that mean different things in real versus artificial life, and if these are causing confusion between us, please be specific -- what are they?

With respect to the contemplated prize -- I think the question it asks (Is open-ended evolutionary innovation in a quarantined system possible?) is profoundly important and unanswered. Do you agree? Perhaps the question could be better-posed, and part of the project is to pose it accurately. For example, the word "quarantined" was preceded by "closed" and once, "code-closed."

Another formulation might be this -- "In any closed system based on encoded instructions, can entropy decrease by more than mere statistical fluctuation, cumulatively?"

Another might be this -- "Can any system of encoding be shown to add new meaning to itself by itself?"

My own hunch, based on a lot of careful study, is that the answer is no. (Literature, music, etc. would be emergent properties of DNA; and whether the universe is closed has not been shown to my satisfaction.) But I am not completely certain, and I am willing to pay out a reward to learn that I'm wrong. It would probably be better if I were to place the money in escrow somewhere to be paid out for a sure answer either way. I have actually explored this and I am still exploring it. But how do you prove that something is not possible? OTOH, if the answer is yes, one clear example could settle it.

The primary response has been that the question is too vague to deal with. OK, let's try to fix that. But meanwhile, the same responders pretend to the rest of the world that the question should be ignored because it already has been answered Yes. Frustrating.

If I were worried about my reputation, I wouldn't be doing this. Fortunately, have been successful in other endeavors and I have a good reputation within my local community. I have said before, if this were my first career, I would be devastated.

I answered your "first key question." I have some for you. Do you think modeling Cosmic Ancestry be any easier? Which terms do we need to immediately clarify? (We can do others as they arise.) And do you agree that the prize-related question is important?

Of course I welcome your general comments. For example, if you agree that the question is important, facing so much opposition, how would you pursue or promote it? Thanks. Best regards. Brig

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 12:54:13 -0700 (PDT): Brig, Naturally, I'd prefer the question clarification part to happen before I try to guess the answer or say how important it is. J But I don't see why a positive answer would cause such a big problem for CA. Back to the punctuated equilibrium analogy. Just as a straw man argument, someone could point to an example where speciation occurred through gradualism and say "This would make [punctuated equilibrium] unnecessary. My primary supporting argument is that it is necessary." Well, just because it's unnecessary for that event, it doesn't mean it's unnecessary for explaining other events. Maybe what I would see as a modification to the theory, you would see as a different theory.

In general, I would think that any ALIFE researcher is not going to see how you are asking for anything he/she isn't already trying to achieve. If you think he's made enough progress so far, he'll be happy to accept the prize. If not, that's fine too. He was going to keep working on it anyway because everybody knows these programs really aren't anywhere close to "alive" yet. Some mathematicians may send you proofs of the negative. Then you will have to see if you agree with their proofs and how much you think it applies to biology. I'm glad I don't have to do that.

Yes, I think modeling CA in a computer program would be hard in the sense of requiring significant time and effort. I'm glad you mentioned fractals earlier. If I started with the set of equations (affine transforms) for a fractal fern, and wanted a program to draw the picture, that would be a snap. But if I started with a picture of a lobster and had to find a short set of equations that would decode to a picture of a fractal lobster, that would entail some real work. If I were not too picky about how it looked, or how many equations, it would get easier.

I thought about CA, (and now I've looked at your article linked in your last post), and I went over, in my head, how I might code something like that up. Adaptive pressure involves multiple species coevolving, some genes get protected and some can mutate, they self assemble, they show up when they're needed, coevolutionary pressure rewards intermediate species that are going to be able to use certain genes later, there have to be the right genes on hand for all the possible evolutionary trajectories that might occur (um, that sounds like a lot) all these steps would have to be coded up and tinkered with so that this all plays out properly. (And GAs can be pretty balky when it comes down to getting them to solve a problem in a specific way.) So yes, modeling CA sounds like a lot of work, and even though I think it can be done, I would not be surprised or concerned if it has not been done to date. - Dave

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 11:14:35 PM: >J But I don't see why a positive answer [is OEEI-QS possible?] would cause such a big problem for CA. Makes it unnecessary, that's all. Sure CA could still be a factor, but I would retire from promoting it. (I think this issue is covered.)

>In general, I would think that any ALIFE researcher is not going to see how you are asking for anything he/she isn't already trying to achieve. Right, but the main question I'm asking is unanswered. Trying to answer it is fine. Claiming it has already been answered is not fine, but that's the message being sold to the science press. At least Mark Bedau admits there's a problem (

>So yes, modeling CA sounds like a lot of work, and even though I think it can be done, I would not be surprised or concerned if it has not been done to date. The question posed several times was, in effect, would evolving advanced life be [any] easier by cosmic ancestry than by straight darwinism. Your reluctance to answer has puzzled me. You must think I'm asking about the project of writing all that code that cosmic ancestry comes with. Sure that's hard. But my question pertains to what happens after that. Is the computer trial that starts a) with written code already available [as in cosmic ancestry], or b) without any code available [as in straight darwinism]-- which one, a or b, is more likely to evolve advanced forms? Is this a question you comfortable answering? ------- Brig

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 11:01:48 -0700 (PDT): I don't know how to answer your question. I did go into all that explanation about simulating CA on a computer for a reason, but maybe I'm pulling the discussion off on a tangent. My first impression of your challenge was positive. You think I can't do something, I think I can. You say: "show me," and offer to make it worth my while if I can. The devil, of course, is in the details.

My choice of the best domain to settle such a challenge is Core Wars. (For many of the ALIFE researchers you talk with, reading about-perhaps not actually playing-Core Wars was a formative experience.) By happy coincidence I have a program for evolving Corewars programs that can demonstrate OOEIQS according to my standards. A reasonable person might have different standards from mine and conclude that my evidence doesn't measure up, or they might reject the way I frame the test. The Core Wars wikipedia link is ...A link to a Dewdney Scientific America Article is ...Below, I'm going to attempt to cut and paste an excerpt from the wikipedia article [omitted -- use wikipedia link]. - Dave

22:01:47 +0100: Dear Brig, I have created a web site which has an arcticle of Darwin and Wallace (i.e. that they did not originate natural selection etc) which may be of interest to your website viewers. Can you let them know of its existence? It's at, or via google at wainwrightscience. Best Wishes, Milton

08:57 PM: Hi Brig, I'm struggling with this one, but thought you might find it interesting.... Ken
Vasily V. Ogryzko, "A quantum-theoretical approach to the phenomenon of directed mutations in bacteria (hypothesis)" [
abstract], doi:10.1016/S0303-2647(97)00030-0, p 83-95 v 43, ScienceDirect - Biosystems, Jul 1997.

16 Jul 2008, 08:18 AM: Ken, thanks. Glad to know you're there! In the 1970s my hobby was quantum theory. My final opinion was that nobody understands the phenomena behind quantum theory. Richard Feynman agreed. Lots of fantasy like the Many Worlds theory, and quantum theory to explain consciousness gets published. I think that a superposition of states is sometimes only a mental fiction used to explain what we don't understand. (Sorry to be grumpy this morning.)

I do think that directed mutation needs more attention. And I think that it would be pretty easy to make a computer model that exhibits directed mutation. Thanks for alerting me. I definitely want to hear from you when you see something interesting....

09:15 PM: Brig, Ogryzko has a more recent paper at, and a 1999 presentation at

It might be a good time for you to reactivate your former hobby. Because of the tremendous prestige of Einstein, physicists were reluctant to buy into entanglement effects even when they were first demonstrated in the early 1980's. But now quantum engineering is just getting started, and it includes more than just quantum computing and quantum cryptography. We (me and 5 others) broke away from General Dynamics and started the Ann Arbor office of in January, 2008, and a big part of our plan is quantum sensors and other advanced device concepts based on exploiting superposition and entanglement.

Once you get back into it, you just have to take superposition as real - there are just too many real effects that one can use for practical purposes. I'm not a physicist, nor a historian of science, but I think its just like atoms, field, earth-as-a-sphere, and other mental constructs that weren't accepted as real for a long time because one could not perceive them directly. I want our group also to get into quantum biology, and if you know any academics who might want to collaborate with us, please let me know....

17 Jul 2008, 08:19 AM: Dear Ken -- As I recall, there was spooky action-at-a-distance that seemed to violate the speed of light limitation. And there was the suggestion that causality does not hold. The latter I couldn't get over. Was it Bell's inequality that first proved entanglements? Anyway, I'll browse that section of the science shelf and see if I can get back into it. Thanks for the links. ...Thanks. Brig

03:40 PM: Well, there is no possibility of controlling an event at a distance faster than the speed of light; that is, one cannot send a signal (containing information) faster than light speed. But there is, nevertheless, an instantaneous consequence at point B of doing something at point A independent of the spatial separation whenever an entangled particle pair is created and one part moved to A and the other part to B and a measurement is done at A. This is called a "non-local" effect, or sometimes an "EPR phenomenon" after a famous paper by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen of 1935, where they did a 'thought experiment' which seemed to show quantum mechanics must be wrong because it predicted non-local effects (i.e., the very effects that were demonstrated starting in the 1980's) which they judged to be "unphysical" (google on EPR).

The experimental violation of Bell's inequality shows that you can't solve the observed EPR phenomena by postulating that the entangled particles traveling to A and B carry some kind of "hidden variables".

I've never seen it suggested that causality does not hold. What apparently does not hold is determinism, the idea that past and future are all part of one big block. Actually, determinism IS compatible with QM but at a very high price: the multi-worlds interpretation, which some very big physicists actually believe in (e.g., David Deutsch). But the more common interpretation of QM is that the Schroedinger equation computes "probability amplitudes" for the future (perfectly deterministically!) but that the square of a probability amplitude is the probability of that measurement outcome happening in the future. So the future is constrained by the past and present, but is not rigidly determined by it.

There are many other interpretations of QM besides these two, but the latter is the most popular (so-called Copenhagen interpretation) at the moment. Also fair warning: this is all off the top of my head, and I'm not a physicist. Ken

18 Jul 2008, 10:37 AM: For a non-physicist, you seem to know enough! I think I'll confine my comments to directed mutation. Ogryzko apparently thinks that directed mutation would violate the rule that the causal arrow only goes left-to-right. But I think it doesn't violate any rules. The DNA software management system could easily have the capability to do directed mutation, and computers could model it.

Genes need to have some wiggle room in which to become optimized, which it seems they do. The system needs to know where these are, and when to accelerate the rate of mutation in them. "When" could be when environmental events lead to the production of the enzymes that ultimately trigger this accelerated mutation at those places. What's so complicated about this?

Note that the range of capabilities that can be reached this way is limited to the optimization range of the gene. OK, some genes make proteins that can have more than one function, and perhaps these functions, if they require sequence adjustments, could also be switched off/on by directed mutation. Come to think of it, directed mutation could be aimed at regulatory sequences, toggling whole programs off/on. But none of this writes new programs. Of course, these genetic changes are still subject to darwinian natural selection. Comments invited! Best regards. Brig

06:49 PM: I want to do some research about directed mutations and write something in What'sNEW....

Sat, 19 Jul 2008, 16:06:27 -0400: Brig, Since you will be diving into directed mutations, you might as well start with Ted Steele in Australia. He's focused his entire career on trying to make progress on this, been beaten up many times, but never gives up. I've attached his latest letter to Molecular Immunology which gives his take on several models. I don't understand the field well enough to have any comments, but I know Ted and I'm sure he would be happy to correspond with you if you have questions....
Edward J. Steele, "Reflections on the state of play in somatic hypermutation", doi:10.1016/S0303-2647(97)00030-0, p 2723-2726 v 45, Molecular Immunology, May 2008.

On Ogryzko and the causal arrow, I'm still working on that paper so can't yet say what I think he means. However, there is an element of "backwards in time" settling of affairs in quantum mechanics, at least according to some physicists. For example, experiments by Ben Libet seem to show (at least to some) that free will is an illusion (because freely-chosen movement timings are preceded by neural activity that occurs before the conscious choice). Yet one physicist, Henry Stapp at Lawrence Berkeley, shows that in his interpretation of quantum mechanics there is no conflict at all with free will in these experiments: ...Ken

06:31 PM: Ken thanks -- I reviewed one of Steele's books ...and corresponded a bit with him in 1999. Apparently, I need to see what he's up to now. Thanks.
Lamarck's Signature... is the mentioned book review, What'sNEW, 12 May 1999.

Before I had my quantum theory hobby, I was especially interested in free will versus determinism. It may be an exaggeration, but OK, say I was a strict determinist. "...Past and future are all part of one big block" in your words. I still saw free will as assured. The argument against it required an unnoticed shift in perspective, from ...human to it God's, to choose words hastily. (And for an argument of lesser logical, but more social, value, we simply must hold ourselves responsible.) The insertion of QT into this mix might have made the big block a big soup, but was otherwise no help, I thought. Perhaps more after I read your attachment. Thanks, as always. Brig

20 Jul 2008, 11:40 AM: Thanks again for the article. I am 40% through it and I will have to calm down before I go on. I accepted, long ago, the apparently instantaneous correlations over large distances of the behavior of particle-pairs. OK. But I do not see any need to insert the observer into the mix. Observations that may effect outcomes are always physical events, right? Young's double slit experiment creates an interference pattern on the photograph plate whether anyone actually looks at it or not. (The point of Schroedinger's cat, I guess.) It feels to me like astrology and ESP have suddenly become respectable science. Furthermore, I do not feel any hope for enlightenment if the observer participates in Stapp's manner. Makes it worse, not better. But I will try to read on! I should confess that I have never been very interested in consciousness as a problem. Never heard the problem well-posed, for one thing.

Whatever became of the pilot-wave theory?

to: "Mike Gene" | Re: The Design Matrix | 7 Jul (updated 20 Jul) 2008

11:18 AM: Dear "Mike" -- Thanks for the book. I had a hard time getting started, but then I became more interested. For one thing, having done a manuscript for a book of my own, I have to admire the research and care that you put into yours. Now I have reviewed it on my website.

Reviewing it, I thought my own third position needed forceful restatement. Perhaps too forceful. But a persistent problem for me is that darwinists accuse me of being a closet creationist, with that agenda hidden. Nothing annoys me more! Not that I personally dislike any (or even know many) ID proponents. But I think they (you?) are attempting to do something logically impossible -- to prove that miracles occur in the real world.

Now I am sensing a different-but-related potential problem. Proponents of creationism/ID are beginning to notice the virtues of panspermia. Panspermia has few advocates, so I should welcome the trend. However, if suddenly a bunch of creationists jump on the panspermia bandwagon, my darwinist accusers will say, "See, I knew it!"

This is why I am pressing you to place your entire agenda on view. You're hoping to prove a miracle, right? If not, please explain. I read your posted related comments and I find them too cagey.

In any case, congrats on the book, and thanks for the copy. Best regards. Brig

20 Jul 2008, 04:02 PM: Hi Brig, Thank you for both the review and reply. Yes, the book did not address the issue of panspermia. The book is intended as the first part of a three part series, where I lay out the logic of my approach. The book argues for an investigative approach, lays out the clues that suggest design might be associated with the origin of life, explores how design and evolution might interface (from both the subjective and objective angles) and then lays out a methodology to assess a design inference.

The topic of panspermia would fit much better in the second or third volume, where one could distinguish between undirected and directed panspermia. Both hypotheses could account for any indicators of discontinuity, but the latter, IMO, better explains any indicators of analogy, rationality, and foresight. In essence, my approach is that of a teleologist. You ask if I am trying to prove a miracle. No. The relationship between my religious views and ID views are spelled out clearly in the following essay: ...Or you might want to read through this essay:

If you think about the subtle argument I am making, it does not in any way depend on a particular mode of becoming - whether life was ultimately spawned naturally on Earth or from space, or whether it came into existence through a creative act of God, the same argument applies.

As for any agenda, I have none other than the line of thinking laid out in The Design Matrix. I sincerely lay my cards on the table with regards to the clues for design, its relationship with evolution, and how we might proceed from there. My "agenda" is to make people aware that there are other unexplored ways of thinking about these issues, as this is an area of inquiry where neither science nor religion can function as the final authority.

I fully understand that this whole issue has become so thoroughly politicized from all sides, but the fact remains that I find this topic to be intrinsically interesting and 2500 years of Western thinking backs me up on this. Yes, people will continually suspect that people like you and I are closet creationists with hidden agendas. It is part of the superficial thinking and stereotypes that play well in a culture dominated by group think, sound bites and pop media. Regards, Mike

7 Jul 2008: The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues — the subject book review.

Michael Shermer and Stuart Kauffman resort to "GOD" to explain emergent complexity | from Dr. Doron Goldberg | Wed, 2 Jul 2008

16:01:53 +0300: Dear Mr. Klyce, The article by M. Shermer "Sacred Science: Using Faith to Explain Anomalies in Physics", appearing in the last issue of Scientific American, might be suitable to become an entry in the lovely "News" section of your website. Regards, Doron Goldberg | Katzrin, Israel

small world...huge universe | from Gene Stratton | Mon, 23 Jun 2008

11:32:48 -0500: Holy crap, Brig! I stayed up Saturday night with a PBS show, Horizon, to get my first, yes first, exposure to the word, panspermia--the televised pronunciation alone left some mystery as to spelling, but then I googled it, and I turned up your website. I knew there should not be another Brig Klyce! Still amazed! Now there's another mind wrapped around this very logical concept in a very rudimentary way, but curious to see more. I've always been that way! The information gathered at St. John's was never quite the right, certain, full explanation! All the best to you, yours and the brother I call George.
Tue, 24 Jun 2008 16:03:56 -0500: ...This really is one of those great serendipitous blips on the screens [TV and Google and more] of my life, giving greater logic to the quest for that 'where did we come from' thing, without requiring devotion to dogma. I quit the dogma circuit years ago. Science should always trump dogma! George Carlin would be pleased with your efforts. Thanks for those efforts and your response. I look forward to more developments, perhaps from the Martian ice discoveries. Email on the topic will be welcome. Carry on...enjoy the reunion and the weather! ...Gene Stratton, Attorney | Burnet, TX

Another change to our understanding of evolution | from Jonathan Sturm | 30 May 2008

07:24 PM: ...A TEAM of Australian scientists has discovered the earliest known example of a creature able to have sex and give birth --
Why Sexual Reproduction? is a related CA webpage.

Interstellar Dust in Scientific American Article | from Vince Wuellner | 4 May 2008

03:57 PM: Enjoy your site. I check your "What's NEW" section weekly - it's a great resource with links to many interesting articles.... I was reminded of your "Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust" article recently when reading "The Genesis of Planets" in the May 2008 Scientific American. There is an illustration on page 52 that depicts the dust grains in a protoplanetary disk as having a long oval shape much like grains of rice, or bacteria. Very much like bacteria, to this layperson. Take a look and see if you agree.... The article describes the dust grains as "microscopic bits of water ice, iron and other solid substances..."

Thanks for the wonderful site. You do a great job of presenting a very interesting alternate origin of life theory.... Sincerely, Vince Wuellner | Lakeland, FL USA
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust is the referenced CA webpage.

Nanobacteria | from Sean Underwood | 24 Apr 2008

6:17 AM: Hi... I don't know if nanobacteria are part of the cosmic ancestry theory, but I felt they might hold some place, hence this link to an article on nanobacteria.... Regards, Sean
Nanobacteria - Are They Alive?, by Lisa Zyga,, 23 Apr 2008.

4:38 PM: Brig... See Nanobacteria theory takes a hit. Mike
What'sNEW: Nanobes has updates on this subject, discussed on our Life on Mars! webpage.

from Ron McGhee | 15 Mar 2008

19:51:24 +0000: Brig - So, back to the drawing board about how objects enter the atmosphere?!? So, meterorites (rock) CAN survive the decent.... and life forms in them???
Streamlined meteorite hit Peru fast and hard, Reuters, 11 Mar 2008.
A meteorite caused illness in Peru? is our original story about this meteorite, in What'sNEW, 20 Sep 2007.
Comets: The Delivery System is a related CA webpage.

Mutant Cockroaches from Outer Space! | from Larry Klaes | 23 Jan 2008

11:45:11 -0500: Space Roaches Develop into Super Mutants.... Maybe it's time to welcome our new insect overlords. In what sounds like the prequel to the movie Alien, Russian news Agency Novosti, reported on an experiment involving baby cockroaches conceived aboard a satellite in back in September. Apparently, they found, a trip to space gives roaches "superpowers".

The cockroaches conceived in space onboard the Russian Foton-M bio satellite have developed faster and become hardier than 'terrestrial' ones, a research supervisor confirmed on Thursday. The research team has been monitoring the cockroaches since they were born in October. The scientists established that their limbs and bodies grew faster. "What is more, we have found out that the creatures... run faster than ordinary cockroaches, and are much more energetic and resilient," Dmitry Atyakshin said. The full article here:

Inheritance via RNA | from Stan Franklin | 4 Jan 2008

[...Genetic information can be passed on to following generations via RNA, in addition to DNA, according to research at Princeton University studying the reproduction of the singled-celled ciliate Oxytricha trifallax, whose cells have two nuclei.]
New route for heredity bypasses DNA,, 4 Jan 2008.
Neo-Darwinism: The Current Paradigm is a related CA webpage.

COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2009 - Replies Index - 2007 | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved