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Physics doesn’t apply to much of the universe

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 22, 2009

In response to John Brockman’s Edge Annual Question for 2009:

What will change everything? What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?

Stuart Kauffman says that we’ll come to believe that much of the universe cannot be explained by or reduced to the fundamental laws of physics.

Let me point to the Adjacent Possible of the biosphere. Once there were lung fish, swim bladders were in the Adjacent Possible of the biosphere. Before there were multicelled organisms, the swim bladder was not in the Adjacent Possible of the biosphere. Something wonderful is happening right in front of us: When the swim bladder arose it was of selective advantage in its context. It changed what was Actual in the biosphere, which in turn created a new Adjacent Possible of the biosphere. The biosphere self consistently co-constructs itself into its every changing, unstatable Adjacent Possible.

If the becoming of the swim bladder is partially lawless, it certainly is not entailed by the fundamental laws of physics, so cannot be deduced from physics. Then its existence in the non-ergodic universe requires an explanation that cannot be had by that missing entailment. The universe is open.

(via david galbraith)

We Work Remotely

What are you optimistic about?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 02, 2007

Each year John Brockman asks his nebulous band of futurists and pundits a question. The Edge Annual Question for 2007 is:

What are you optimistic about? Why?

I wasn’t asked to participate, but if I had been, my answer would have been something like the following.

I’m not an optimist by nature, so a question like this is a bit difficult to answer. But as I look around at friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances, what gives me hope is while these people might sometimes be pessimistic in what they say, they are optimistic in what they do. The cost of saying something, publishing something even, is cheap these days, but actually doing something still costs emotionally, physically, economically, socially. As a barometer of how we’re all doing, this is a good sign…in spite of what we hear in the media and from each other.

What are you optimistic about? Why?