Alan G. Carter

A couple of out and out speculations that run with the paradigm described in "5: Hypertime".

Protien Folding

It's difficult to know what to make of the spontaneous chemical arising of life debate. A few years ago I attended a lecture by Prof. Jack Cohen, who is one of the few people to make serious studies of what biology might do on other planets. I took the opportunity to ask him what he makes of Fred Hoyle's assertion that the numbers for spontaneous arising of replicating molecules just don't work - per planet at least - by many orders of magnitude. Cohen's response surprised me. He basically said that Hoyle doesn't understand chemistry. But he does! He first trained as a biochemist, and his arguments regarding the infra-red absorbtion spectra of E. Coli and interstellar dust are very strong and verifiable, so he hasn't forgotten his biochemistry. So I was puzzled by this reaction. He made no attempt to refute Hoyle's reasoning, which he indicated was painfully wrong due to ignorance - so the howler should be readily debunkable. So shall we believe Fred Hoyle when he says that for chance events we need to be looking at cosmological time at least, or Cohen, Dawkins et. al. who seem to think it can happen in any carbonated puddle?

Then there is the argument that says that yes it does seem to be improbable, but the mysterious self-organising property of the universe then makes it probable again. Indeed, I've been using some genetic algorithms for a real engineering job recently, and the self-org property is plain spooky when smashing through NP hard problems. But this just says that life comes from a mysterious principle, active throughout the universe, that we call "self-organisation". Such a position makes full-on Creationism look like rock hard Popperian science! We could at least don pith helmets and seek the site of the Garden of Eden! And of course the whole topic has attracted all sorts of robotic responses to statements people haven't made just to confuse things.

So ignore the origin of life and look at its operation for a moment. You know the story. DNA copies to RNA, RNA builds amino acids up to make protiens, which fall off the RNA template and fold up into the necessary shapes to do their nanotechnological jobs - with the necessary valences sticking out at just the right places. Check out a copy of Nature magazine. Any issue will do, all it seems to print these days are pages of citations in biochem political games. But this does mean it is stuffed full of RasMol renderings of very complicated protien shapes. Very complicated. How do they get that way? Does each bit just flop, flop, flop off the RNA just right every time? What if something gets in the way and another loop comes falling down on top? Does the stuff never get tangled up like a Slinky? Perhaps there is an active transport mechanism with little things like Drexler's assembler robots zipping about and adjusting things? No. There is a general purpose folding template emzyme called chaperonease, but that is involved in so many folding operations its crude shape (like a milling machine tool end) can't contain any per-protien design data. No-one's seen any little Thunderbird 4s zipping about in there anyway, and there isn't the energy budget. Perhaps it's a passive system, where a lot of junk gets made and then recycled with just the well-formed stuff surviving. There's no ullage. It's a very efficient process. There's been lots of research showing lovely complex entropy curves around the folding sites of different protiens, which all really say that no individual case ever violates the Second Law, and that there is a lot of richness involved. So how is the Slinky problem solved? We have absolutely nothing in the frame! Yet it is the single most important event in the operation of a living system, that billions have been spent researching in drug development, and that we can watch on STMs. We have no idea how the cell avoids the Slinky problem. In R there is a mechanism available. The dual arrows of time can allow random energy from the outside to sum to Brownian motions within the cell that make the folding events thermodynamically legal and ridiculously lucky Thus there is no need for other mechanisms be they passive or active. The correct folding events occur due to additional information - why not say spiritualisation - from without, co-ordinated only on the creative arrow. Which does provide a definition of life. If you ever find another answer to this puzzle, for pities sake email me!


I'm now going to engage in a bit of outright speculation within the model of R. What I'm going to suggest really isn't central to the big picture but would seem to be allowable. The only reason that I've had to consider the reincarnation question came from references in the various mystical writings that I argue contain recognisable descriptions of M0 and the Reciprocal Cosmology. They seemed to have earned their credibility. So I got interested in the important point that the only way a chunk of structure could exist in the year 1900 would be for it to be here with us, even if scrambled, in the year 2000. All structure ultimately derives from God, at the end of time. I'm a structure, so the good bits - my deep structure collection - is going to have to persist. So maybe I'm a bit of functionality that gets assembled down here, distributed in particle trajectories, and re-assembled ready for use at the end.

There are problems with this. Few people are really in a fit state for anything at the time of their deaths. This is even true of non-M0 afflicted people who have collected deep structure and perfected their Objective Reason, as Gurdjieff puts it. They might be very wise, but what use will wise and willing be if you can't even work an Air Traffic Control desk? More development, more integration to form higher order structures would seem necessary. Well, Steiner and the Hindus goes on about souls getting more developed until the leave the Karmic Wheel. They say that souls are reborn. In R that is saying that the deep structure collection reforms, deep structured data arriving at an infant's brain as a series of life experiences. In R style reincarnation, the process might take many years. So maybe there is development there. But why don't I remember the past experiences that I presumably had that took me from food and sex to pondering the whichness of the why?

Then it occured to me - perhaps I do! I discuss the business of becoming conscious of our desires in the PS. But where do the desires come from? Where does my intuition come from? Might these data sources be candidates for the missing deep structural memories? This kind of thinking led to a model that fits the new physical picture, and the prior mystical writings.

Think of a simple creature having life experiences. It gets chased by a bigger monkey and falls out of its tree, into a hidden pool of fresh water. It gets chased by a lion and in its terror finds a tree full of unpicked bananas. Because unlike most contemporary humans it doesn't go around denying most of its experiences it forms the impression, "Every cloud has a silver lining". When it gets old it will become notorious for its sagelike mutterings. If young monkeys are asked to describe the old monkey they don't talk about it bellyflopping into a hidden pool. They instead describe it as the possessor of deep and mysterious wisdom. Then it dies. As discussed in R, only the deep structural - literally essential - stuff matters. The scenery is just filled in with fractal generators per locale. So the data "Every cloud has a silver lining", along with some stuff about light and colour that we've still only understood as something to do with aesthetics and so on is conserved. The details are not. Bandwidth is limited. During its life the monkey has observed implicit essential structure, performed inductive reasoning, and made the implicit structure explicit as a brain representation. That data enters the Bennett machine of the whole universe, although most of it actually stays in the local biosphere. The hidden order glides through the mathematical chaos of the biosphere rather like a reversible Bennett computer finding the outline of the Mandelbrot set. The state of the machine one or two steps forwards or backwards is both unpredicatable yet perfectly reversible. As physics is.

Eventually the data collection reforms. This might happen in all sorts of ways, as the conditions under which what the animal might call an experience change together with the more explicit stimulii. The effect is a monkey, younger than the last one when it deduces, "Every cloud has a silver lining", and which builds on top of that.

If a person collects enough integrated deep structure during its life, then the fact that all structure has an upline source means that the chance that such a lump of integrated data came from a mishmash of upline sources instead of a single, integrated upline source becomes very slight. Since the funny thing about abstracted, understanding based, deep structural learning is that it becomes a part of the learner, it is those parts of the learner that will recombine in a single source later on. That advice, from the point of view of a learning creature, is what much of "6: History" is about.

There are a couple of other speculations that fit both pictures. In fact the model of wavicles in "3: Reciprocal Cosmology" comes from the way accreted structure at all levels of abstraction self-organises simultaneously comes from thinking about how one could trace a very simple structure, up the recreative arrow and back down the creative arrow to restart as something more complex and contemorary with the first version, but perhaps I'll leave that for now!