If you thought fundamentalists had a problem with evolution

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If anti-science religious fundamentalists thought they had a problem with Darwinian Evolution before, this groundbreaking paper is really going to amp up their anxieties.
Quoting from their introduction: The universe is replete with complex evolving systems, but the existing macroscopic physical laws do not seem to adequately describe these systems.
In a nutshell, their law states that evolution is not limited to life on Earth, it also occurs in other massively complex systems – from planets to atoms.
According to the researchers, regardless of whether the system is living or nonliving, when a new configuration works and function improves, evolution occurs.
The team’s research builds on Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which suggests that the function exists to ensure the “survival of the fittest”.
This is what makes life the most striking example of evolution, but evolution is everywhere.”
It could also help explain how life differs from other complex evolving systems, and could help aid the search for life elsewhere.
It also offers insights into how we could artificially influence the rate of evolution of some systems which, again, could prove invaluable.

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I recently came upon this on the science tabloids’ website, which highlights a significant new paper that was first published in the esteemed Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science (PNAS) last October. This groundbreaking paper is likely to increase the concerns of anti-science religious fundamentalists who previously held reservations about Darwinian Evolution.

Nine people wrote it: three philosophers of science, two astrobiologists, a data scientist, a theoretical physicist, and scientists from Cornell University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Carnegie Institution for Science. This group also included philosophers from the University of Colorado. I’ll quote them from their opening.

The complex evolving systems that permeate the universe appear to be beyond the reach of the current macroscopic physical laws. We search for conceptual equivalencies among evolving systems in an attempt to find a possible “missing law,” acknowledging that the discovery of conceptual equivalencies among disparate phenomena laid the groundwork for the development of earlier laws of nature. All evolving systems, including life, we propose, are made up of various parts that can come together to form configurational states that are subsequently chosen for or against according to their functions. Next, we identify the three basic sources of selection: novelty generation, dynamic persistence, and static persistence. Finally, we propose a time-asymmetric law that states that, when a system is selected for a function, its functional information will increase over time (s).

I’ll include some of the more quote-worthy reviews from the above Indy 100 article about this proposed new Law of Increasing Functional Information, even though the entire paper is well worth reading (it doesn’t contain a lot of highly technical jargon and doesn’t require advanced mathematics to understand).

It has significant ramifications for our comprehension of how, well, everything functions that a group of scientists and philosophers believe they have discovered a “missing law of nature.”.

The majority of us are aware of many of the physical laws that govern the world and beyond, like thermodynamics and gravity, even if we are not familiar with their specifics.

The behaviors of innumerable complex systems found throughout the universe, however, have up until now been beyond the reach of any known physical law.

In summary, their law says that evolution happens not only in Earthly life but also in other extremely complex systems, such as planets and atoms.

This indicates that these systems “evolve” toward states of increased complexity and diversity on their own. which consist of the following attributes:.

They can be repeatedly rearranged from a wide variety of constituents, including molecules, cells, and atoms. “.

“Natural processes that cause countless different configurations to be formed” are what affect them. “.

And only a tiny percentage of these configurations are able to endure through a natural selection process known as “selection for function.”.

The researchers claim that evolution happens when a new configuration functions better and works, regardless of whether the system is living or nonliving.

….

“The concept of’selection for function’ is a crucial element of this suggested natural law,” explains Dr. Michael L., the lead astrobiologist who wrote the study. Wong gave an explanation.

The objective of the team’s study is to guarantee the “survival of the fittest,” according to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Dr. Wong and his colleagues extended this viewpoint in their work, identifying three different forms of this selection for function in the natural world.

They assert that stability—the stable configurations of atoms or molecules that are chosen to persist—is the first and most fundamental kind.

The second is made up of dynamic systems that are chosen based on their constant energy sources.

The tendency of evolving systems to experiment with novel configurations that may result in unexpectedly novel behaviors or characteristics is known as “novelty,” and it serves as the third and most fascinating function.

Of course, nothing about the evolution of life—from the simplest unicellular organisms to multicellular lifeforms—is novel. As cells “learned” to cooperate with one another, new behaviors—like swimming, walking, flying, and thinking—led to the emergence of new species.

Similar to how Earth’s minerals, which numbered only about 20 at the beginning of our solar system 415 billion years ago, have now grown to almost 6,000 known today due to ever more complex physical, chemical, and ultimately biological processes over those eons, this team also expanded on the idea of Darwinian Evolution in biology to include cosmology and the universe, which evolved from the primordial mix of hydrogen and helium resulting from the initial Big Bang to synthesize 20 additional elements in the first generation of stars and nearly 100 additional elements that currently make up our Periodic Table in subsequent stellar generations.

More passages from a previous review on pyhsics . org. Comparing Special Relativity and Darwinian Evolution in the Context of Einstein’s Broader Theory of General Relativity:.

Darwinian theory, we argue, is only one extremely unique and significant example of a much broader natural phenomenon. As with many other conceptually similar scenarios where a variety of configurations are under selective pressure, the idea that selection for function drives evolution holds true for stars, atoms, minerals, and other entities. “.

New combinations of atoms, molecules, cells, etc. are created by the universe. Combinations that are both stable and capable of producing new ideas will keep developing. Because of this, life is the most striking example of evolution—though evolution can be found everywhere. ****.

For a final quotation, let’s return to the Indianapolis 100 article:.

Deeper understanding of the origins of the Universe itself is among the many fascinating implications of the new law.

Additionally, it might clarify how life differs from other intricately evolving systems and facilitate the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Furthermore, having a law that describes the evolution of both natural and symbolic systems is very helpful at a time when the concern over increasingly autonomous AI systems is growing.

Additionally, it provides insights into how we might purposefully slow down the evolution of some systems, which could be extremely helpful.

As Dr. Wong stated, the important thing to keep in mind is that, although life is the “most striking example of evolution,” it is not the only one.

It turns out that evolution is present everywhere.

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