Vitalism - 32001-01-04
The term vitalism is used somewhat jokingly.
It happens quite often that people say that biology has taken over the leading role in science from physics.
That Physics was the science of the 20th century and that biology is the science of the 21th century.
That I now take as my point of departure.
I used to be quite obsessed about trying to explain the stability of things. I won't explain what I mean by that here.
Some of that stability is however only apparent. It is the consequence of our highly evolved senses and of the dataprocessing in our brains. We need to get a reasonably filtered flow of information in order to be competitive in the dangerous natural environment from which we originate.
But other parts are absolute. Such as elementary particles. Electrons and protons. They have this strange exact indistinguishability.
How does nature know how to make every one of them with such high precision?
I mentioned this in another document and said that the established scientists might explain it all away by pointing to some formal aspect of field theory or something.
Here I want to approach the subject from the point of view of selfconsistency. One way to do it is to try to find a scheme wherein an elementary particle is related to the rest of reality(=the part of reality complementing the particle or simply 'the complement' for short), in such a way that the complement bears an interesting relation to the particle. The simplest relation would be that the complement would be another identical particle or an antiparticle or in some other way simply related. In order to explain the large multiplicity of instances this simple relation might not be the wanted one. But in any case what we are talking about here is some kind of group theoretical relationship where there exists fundamental operations filling out the whole of reality in some selfconsistent manner such as to leave little room for arbitrariness.
Note that it is the whole of the reference frame or whatever it is called that would be the point of departure. After I began thinking about this I ran across the interesting fact that the invariance group of electromagnetism actually provides examples of this kind of selfconsistency. Taking a 3-dimensional example, there are nontrivial geometrical shapes associated with the conformal group of transformations, which divide 3D-space into two equal but nontrivial parts. I don't remember what they're called but they look like two crossed wormholes of a kind.
This sounds strange but don't worry about the details.
The important thing is both these shapes constitute a mould for the complementary. Its a very simple way to represent and examplify the principle of selfconsistency. In order to apply the idea directly to electrons and protons, it seems one would have to generalize from the above mentioned ordinary 3D example to the corresponding geometrical 'shape' in space time. That is time would be part of it and it would be some kind of accelerating thing.
But never mind. I am only discussing principles and I don't expect to get very far here.
Now what about the biology/physics contest hinted on earlier?
Well try to see the above mentioned geometrical shapes, the set of selfconsistent moulds as an ideal cloning mechanism of a very simple kind.
Is there a meaningful way to understand elementary particles as living things of a particularly simple kind? (living in the sense that there are ways of looking at them where it would make sense to say that they create copies or transformed images of themselves or of something related)
(Incidently a Corean physicist thought electrons had feelings and that love held matter together...).
What about it? Electrons and protons stabilizing their properties in a way reminding of cloning.
It seemed to me natural to try and generalise the pair of moulds in such a way that it would resemble a pair of RNA strands. That is trying to see fundamental biological processess as some kind of self consistency game albeit more complicated than the initial simple type of cloning.
If this is the case then biological processes like mitosis and similar would have to be viewed as actually taking up the entire available space in the pertinent framework. Not just a small contingent part of the universe of conventional physics but the whole of reality from some perspective to be clarified later. Hence a living system like a cell would in some sense be the whole of reality and the thing we call the universe would have to be understood as some kind of caleidoscopic image of the real universe.
Let me put it more explicitly: I have this strange feeling that when we see a living cell going through mitosis, we don't see a small inhabitant of the universe, instead we see the whole of existence from a particular perspective. Matter cannot be destroyed. It just recombines in various ways. Such recombinations would mean that the perspective had changed not the universe.
It could well be the case that the perspective connected with fundamental biological processes is more revealing than other types of processes. Closer to the deeper aspects of existence, or God if you prefer. Note that this doesn't mean that the molecules of physics are really fundamental and that the things we see during mitosis should necessarily be best understood through physics and chemistry. I leave that part of the discussion now. There is a lot more to say in order to make it meaningful for a skeptical observer.
In the 19th century an american, Hinton, speculated that molecules would be connected with a previously unknown higherdimensional aspect of the universe. For example the world would have a fine thickness in the 4th dimension or something. That type of idea has never really been refuted or confirmed. It isn't needed right now because physicists haves managed to assemble a set of working assumptions and formalized it sufficiently well to handle many problems. However the theory of quantum mechanics and its experimental confirmation of correllations existing seemingly beyond space makes it reasonable to look for higherdimensional reinterpretations or extensions of physics and science in general.
I will try to argue that the natural reference frame that we use in physics may be totally misleading when we try to understand microscopic processes.
An argument for looking to atoms and molecules will be discussed.
I mean not just as small universes contained inside our ordinary universe. Not at all. Instead I mean that what we think is the real universe could be a total misunderstanding. As I was saying earlier we may be looking at a caleidoscopic and hence very confusing image of something more fundamental. Possibly the mathemathics of Poincaré and Riemann and others would play a role in bringing order into such a view of the world.
In another document that I haven't added to this site yet, I have pointed out some important properties of a restricted type of geometries the consequence being that the 4 dimensional world wouldn't be quite 4 dimensional when fluctuations are taken into account. This means that there are some arguments for expecting a 4 dimensional world to be harder to recognize than is the case with lowerdimensional worlds. In a related manner the conclusions for a 3 D world are that 'the 3 dimensional world would only be quite 3 dimensional in a discrete set of points' when fluctuations are taken into account. Since the discrete set of points would in general be complex valued it becomes more complicated. It seems such complex valued points would imply higher dimensions. This in turn would imply that the phrasing should read even more paradoxically that the '3-dimensional world wouldn't be quite 3 dimensional other than in a discrete set of points, where, on the other hand it would have dimension higher than 3..'
Note that this referred to a restricted set of geometries in no way proven to be those of the real world. (However this type of geometry would be compatible with other similar geometries used in established physics.)
I don't really understand the implications of this, which is the reason why I haven't felt ready to add that document to the site as I said.
And our existence may have its natural measures determined by processes that are far removed from more natural measures in terms of the speculated 'real' reality.
Consider the choice of reference frame. What is a natural reference frame? Is it the average of frames of reference of all individual humans?
That doesn't seem very likely to me. There are something like 1080 atoms in the universe according to present wisdom. The internal dynamics of atoms differ very strongly from reference frames normally associated with human beings. There is a lot of acceleration inside atoms. According to quantum mechanical theory these things don't even have completely objective properties only potential ones and only realized when the atom takes part in some kind of interaction. This means a valid natural reference frame, if the great numerary of atoms is to be given fair weight, would be something where violently noninertial motion is taking place and moreover that motion is potentially of many contradictory types. Clearly if such reference systems are given fair weight there isn't much left of the reference frame we usually implicitly assume to be natural. That latter would probably be some kind of averaging of a group of astronomical bodies, like the 'Body Alfa' of the 19th century. But the atomic reference frame I was sketching above would present an entirely different image of reality. Maybe molecules are more common and hence molecular or chemical reference frame would be a better term.
The point I am trying to make is that the natural type of reference frame to look for when discussing molecules could be something that makes it necessary to disregard the conventional physics reference frames. The latter are very much connected with human conditions and humans are built out of atoms. If it is considered proven, as I was trying to do above, that the natural reference frame is something other than an inertial frame, this makes it probable that our conventional understanding of the universe is heavily biased away from the frames suited for understanding the microscopic world. Therefore it would make sense to speculate that microscopic processes, both elementary particles as well as living cells etc might in some sense exhaust their available reference frame and hence there might be ways to look at it that would give a better understanding of the stability of things.