I Sing The Body Electric

Discussion in 'Biology' started by edina, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. edina

    edina ~~~ 賁 ~~~

    Jan 5, 2015
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    A few days ago, I felt lucky to have stumbled on a pdf version of this book:

    I was reviewing past postings in the Pit, and saw this image, which reminded me of how I wanted to read this book.

    I did a quick search (not google, lol) and BOOM! Found it. Kinda excited.

    I'm leaving a link here just in case any one would come along and also be interested, too, for as long as the link may work.

    The Vital Question, Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane


    ♒ "disturb conformity with curiosity" ♒

    NOTE ADDED: 13 May 2018

    I discovered this book this past week. (Feels like a gift. Happy Mother's Day, me & all Mom's everywhere.)

    The Beginning of Infinity

    In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.


    Listening to The Storm, Havasi

    “When the storm breaks, each man acts in accordance with his own nature. Some are dumb with terror, some flee, some hide. And some spread their wings like eagles and soar on the wind.”

    To unaided human eyes, the universe beyond our solar system looks like a few thousand glowing dots in the night sky, plus the faint, hazy streaks of the Milky Way. But if you ask an astronomer what is out
    there in reality, you will be told not about dots or streaks, but about stars: spheres of incandescent gas millions of kilometres in diameter and light years away from us. You will be told that the sun is a typical star, and looks different from the others only because we are much closer to it – though still some 150 million kilometres away. Yet, even at those unimaginable distances, we are confident that we know what makes stars shine: you will be told that they are powered by the nuclear energy released by transmutation – the conversion of one chemical element into another (mainly hydrogen into helium).

    Some types of transmutation happen spontaneously on Earth, in the decay of radioactive elements. This was first demonstrated in 1901, by the physicists Frederick Soddy and Ernest Rutherford, but the concept of transmutation was ancient. Alchemists had dreamed for centuries of transmuting ‘base metals’, such as iron or lead, into gold. They never came close to understanding what it would take to achieve that, so they never did so. But scientists in the twentieth century did. And so do stars, when they explode as supernovae. Base metals can be transmuted into gold by stars, and by intelligent beings who understand the processes that power stars, but by nothing else in the universe.

    (Note: Some alchemists did master the transmutation process, but we won’t quibble over that, and get off topic of the book. Interesting use of the word “transmutation.” This also happens in each of our cells, the transmutation process through our mitochondria. Cell as little stars. :) )


    What is clear is that genomes can encode up to tens of thousands of genes and a great deal of regulatory complexity, capable of specifying everything that is needed to transform a caterpillar into a butterfly or a child into an adult human. (page 18, The Vital Question)

    – the mitochondria (the energy transducers in complex cells) (page 26, VQ)

    Growth also means actively transporting materials in and out of the cell. All of this requires a continuous flux of energy – what Schrödinger referred to as ‘free energy’. (page 42, VQ)

    The curiously narrow range of biological energy. (page 43, VQ)

    We use about 2 milliwatts of energy per gram – or some 130 watts for an average person weighing 65kg, a bit more than a standard 100 watt light bulb. That may not sound like a lot, but per gram it is a factor of 10,000 more than the sun (only a tiny fraction of which, at any one moment, is undergoing nuclear fusion). Life is not much like a candle; more of a rocket launcher. (page 44 VQ)


    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018