Complexity

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Chupacabra, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    Guy Hoelzer <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > Tim Tyler at [email protected] wrote on 4/20/04 8:34 PM:

    > > For instance, what's this distinction between complexity
    > > and complicated all about:
    > >
    > > ``complexity emerges along with function and structure
    > > from the merely complicated''
    >
    > The term "complexity" is appropriately used to describe a
    > complex. In this context I would define a complex as a
    > coherently structured network parts that primarily
    > interact with each other and are less well connected to
    > the external environment. Webster's simply defines it as a
    > "unified grouping." In effect, when complex and systemic
    > dynamics emerge, things become LESS complicated.
    > Complexity breeds simplicity. I think that some things
    > appear to be far more complicated than they really are,
    > because we haven't yet recognized the wholeness of the
    > system or the wholenesses of subsystems. The existence of
    > macroscopic wholes significantly reduces apparent
    > complicatedness. There would be no value, for example, in
    > drilling down reductionistically to the level of quarks to
    > gain a better understanding of animal behavior.

    FWIW, the dictionary seems to think "complicated" has
    stronger connotations of "harder to understand" than
    "complex" does.

    It also says:

    ``Complex implies a combination of many associated parts:
    The composer transformed a simple folk tune into a complex
    set of variations. Complicated stresses elaborate
    relationship of parts: The party's complicated platform
    confused many voters.''

    - http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=complex
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     


  2. Irr

    Irr Guest

    "William Morse" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in
    > news:[email protected]:
    >
    > > irr <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    >
    > >> While we might all agree that the primate brain is an
    > >> incredibly complex organ, it's not at all agreed upon
    > >> what it is we mean by this. For example, a Kolmogorov
    > >> measure fails miserably in classifying the brain as
    > >> complex, after all you're really only talking about two
    > >> dozen or so different recognized cell types stamped out
    > >> in enormous repetition with iterated connections
    > >> between them -- in other words, a digital
    > >> representation of the brain is incredibly compressible.
    >
    > > IMO - this makes no sense at all :-|
    >
    > > An acceptable digital version of the brain would handle
    > > the same I/O - and produce similar inputs from similar
    > > outputs. This sounds like a job for a huge computer with
    > > an *extremely* lengthy description to me
    > > - and of course a correspondingly enormous Kolmogorov
    > > complexity.
    >
    > I agree with Tim that a digital computer that mimics the
    > brain would be huge by today's standards. I however also
    > agree that this capability is achieved using a relatively
    > small amount of genetic code. Part of the secret is that
    > brain development relies on input from the environment -
    > in other words much of the data needed to code for a brain
    > resides outside of the genes. Trying to capture this
    > complexity entirely in a computer
    program
    > would in fact require specifying a lot of data that the
    > actual developing brain doesn't include as different cell
    > types but gathers as input to the neural net.
    >
    > Yours,
    >
    > Bill Morse
    >

    No argument from me on Tim's I/O or your 'brain mimicking'
    computer. But as you correctly point out -- and as I had
    originally argued -- the neuroanatomical regularity apparent
    in neural tissue, as specified in the genetic code, ranks
    low in Kolmogorov complexity. The difference that you and
    Tim correctly arrive at, which is essentially that the brain
    is complex not by 'total # of differentiated cell types' but
    rather on the network of connections between these, is
    exactly my original point -- that the choice of complexity
    metric as well as what you choose to measure are both of
    crucial importance. To my knowledge thus far in biology, no
    generalized complexity metric -- or biological
    characteristic with which it is used to measure -- has been
    successful in reconstructing our presupposed anthropocentric
    scala naturae (i.e. that would characterize living organisms
    in a hierarchy of complexity on the order of
    "humans>hominids>protists>bacteria").
     
  3. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote or quoted:
    > On Wed, 21 Apr 2004 03:34:27 +0000 (UTC), Tim Tyler
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >irr <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > >> "Tim Tyler" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > >> > IRR <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:

    > >Once they were the only form of life - but now they are
    > >excluded from many large and significant niches by
    > >competition from plants.
    > >
    > >The rise of complex organisms seems destined to continue
    > >- and if life remains confined on Earth, as complex
    > >organisms rise, bacteria practically must fall back - and
    > >give up their carbon atoms to make more room.
    > >
    > >> > > In fact the largest organisms on Earth (ourselves
    > >> > > among them) make up only a minute fraction of the
    > >> > > global biomass.
    > >> >
    > >> > A *lot* of the global biomass is in the form of trees
    > >> > - e.g.:
    > >> >
    > >> > ``The ongoing enrichment of the atmosphere with CO2
    > >> > raises the question of whether growth of forest
    > >> > trees, which represent close to 90% of the global
    > >> > biomass carbon, is still carbon limited at current
    > >> > concentrations of close to 370 p.p.m.''
    > >> >
    > >> > ...most of which are much bigger than us.
    > >>
    > >> Unfortunately these very dated statistics are only
    > >> valid if you're on Bush's Science Advisory Board. See
    > >> for example Whitman et. al's "Prokaryotes: The unseen
    > >> majority" (Proc. of the National Academy of Sciences,
    > >> 95: 6578-83. 1998) for a starter read and follow the
    > >> trail of references therein.
    > >
    > >It seems that agrees that plants have equal or greater
    > >biomass than procaryotes. Does it really support the idea
    > >that complex organisms make up only a minute fraction of
    > >the global biomass?
    > >
    > >> Notice that this article is already 6 years old and so
    > >> predates recent major discoveries into the "deep
    > >> subsurface" biosphere (e.g. Lidy hot springs and
    > >> similar studies) that we've only scratched the surface
    > >> of, and that may represent an unseen microbial
    > >> contingency larger than all combined terrestrial life.
    > >
    > >*Maybe* there's an "unseen microbial contingency larger
    > >than all combined terrestrial life". Maybe not.
    > >
    > >Even if true, that wouldn't make the biomess of organisms
    > >larger than us "a minute fraction of the global biomass".
    > >Trees really are pretty significant carbon sinks - and I
    > >think they do not deserve dismissal.

    [...]

    > Tim, I am afraid the facts indicate that prokaryotes
    > really do outweigh everything else. The PNAS paper by
    > Whitman, Coleman, and Wiebe which was cited above
    > (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/95/12/6578 does
    > indicate that the total carbon fixed in prokaryotes was of
    > the same order of magnitude, but somewhat less, than the
    > carbon fixed in plants. That is as you say. But carbon and
    > total biomass is a poor measure of biological abundance.
    > Virtually all the carbon content of plants is inert
    > cellulose in the cell wall. If you look at functional
    > material, the proteins as measured by the nitrogen content
    > or nucleic acids (plus many other active metabolites) as
    > measured by phosphorous content, then prokaryotes
    > overwhelm the plants.

    Why discount as "non-functional" lots of plant material that
    performs the vital function of building a tall body that
    overshadows your competitors? Isn't this function of plant
    mass critically important for the success of plants? In what
    respect is it "non-fuctional"?

    > Yes, trees are nice, but the oceanic bigger and richer and
    > the soil even more so. And all this doesn't even begin to
    > count the enormous mass of archaea that were discovered
    > since that paper. You don't mention that the title of that
    > paper is "Prokaryotes: the unseen majority".

    I did quote that title, though.

    > You say that prokaryotes are "but now they are excluded
    > from many large and significant niches by competition from
    > plants". Perhaps you don't realize that the only reason
    > plants can grow in these "large and significant niches" is
    > that they are supported (both physically and
    > metabolically) by the soil which is totally dependent on
    > the microbes living there.

    Trees depend on soil microbes much as I depend on my gut
    bacteria, yes.

    > Yes, the terrestrial world we live in is dominated by
    > eukaryotes. But we live in only a small fraction of the
    > earth. Several people have repeatedly pointed out to you
    > that aquatic and soil/substrate ecology is dominated by
    > microbes and that these form by far the largest component
    > of the biosphere.

    The possibility that much of the planet's biomass may live
    underground has indeed been mentioned. By and large, complex
    organisms have yet to figure out how to survive deep
    underground.

    The underground environment represents what I previously
    described as the "nooks and crannies" of the world - where
    most bacteria have been driven by the virtual conquest of
    the land by complex organisms. I doubt it represents a
    particularly secure haven for them. I think the chances are
    high that future complex organisms will excavate and mine
    deep into the earth and claim it as their own.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  4. Jim Menegay

    Jim Menegay Guest

    r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Tim, I am afraid the facts indicate that prokaryotes
    > really do outweigh everything else.

    Everyone has heard of Newton and his apple, but it is a
    little known fact that Archimedes was also a victim of the
    falling fruit. After some investigation, he came up with the
    theory that apples accelerate as they fall. However, his
    contemporaries pointed out that apple leaves do not seem to
    accelerate, and there are more leaves than apples. The
    debate soon turned to whether the leaves outweighed the
    apples. Archimedes eventually lost interest in his original
    idea and turned to his brilliant studies regarding the count
    of the number of grains of sand in the cosmos.

    This story was told in the first edition of Plutarch, and
    was known to every Roman schoolboy, but it was suppressed
    from later editions due to the influence of the
    neoAristotelian establishment. ;-)
     
  5. [email protected] (chupacabra) wrote in news:c6bde4$qje$1
    @darwin.ediacara.org:

    > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<c69ku1$8kp$1
    >>
    >> Regarding intelligence - maybe the most intellectual are
    reproductively
    >> handicapped (I agree there is evidence to support this).
    >>
    >> ...but the least intellectual are *also* reproductively
    >> handicapped.
    >>
    >> To argue that mankind is getting stupider is to argue
    >> that the first effect is more significant than the second
    >> one - but I don't know of any evidence to suggest that
    >> that is true.
    >
    > Do you mean that humanity is progressing towards
    > ordinarity and mediocrity?
    >
    > By the way, how would you explain significant changes in
    > human phenotype during the last century, I mean people
    > have become much taller, weigh more, are less susceptible
    > to some diseases etc. These changes were apparently too
    > fast to be explained by the natural selection.
    >
    >

    Another change that has occurred is that "raw" IQ scores-
    unadjusted to the average of 100 - have consistently
    increased. Probably most of these changes have to do with
    better nutrition - but it also means that your argument
    that mankind is getting stupider is actually contrary to
    the evidence.

    By the way, when you mention the number of children vs.
    financial status
    - who are you assuming fathered the children?

    Yours,

    Bill Morse
     
  6. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    chupacabra <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<c69ku1$8kp$1

    > > Regarding intelligence - maybe the most intellectual are
    > > reproductively handicapped (I agree there is evidence to
    > > support this).
    > >
    > > ...but the least intellectual are *also* reproductively
    > > handicapped.
    > >
    > > To argue that mankind is getting stupider is to argue
    > > that the first effect is more significant than the
    > > second one - but I don't know of any evidence to suggest
    > > that that is true.
    >
    > Do you mean that humanity is progressing towards
    > ordinarity and mediocrity?

    No.

    > By the way, how would you explain significant changes in
    > human phenotype during the last century, I mean people
    > have become much taller, weigh more, are less susceptible
    > to some diseases etc. These changes were apparently too
    > fast to be explained by the natural selection.

    So: they are due to changes in the environment - in the form
    of technologies such as farming and medicine.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  7. Jarek Hirny

    Jarek Hirny Guest

    > The underground environment represents what I previously
    > described as the "nooks and crannies" of the world - where
    > most bacteria have been driven by the virtual conquest of
    > the land by complex organisms.

    Tim,

    I'd be really grateful if you'd provide me with some
    arguments for your thesis, the one left above. You seem to
    take it for granted that complex organisms drove out the
    simple ones from their niches, yet I can't recall anything
    which would support it.

    E.g. what is the niche that once was populated by Eukaryota
    and which has been conquered by human/apes or just
    anything more complex? Where number of Eukaryotes
    (absolutely, not relatively) grew smaller and smaller?

    Simple organisms are, well, simple. They may faster adapt to
    changing also, probably, in general, they have a wider range
    of allowable conditions in which they can live. I see no
    reason why they could be driven out -- yes, the conditions
    change, but this makes no problem for them.

    Greets, Jarek.
     
  8. John Wilkins

    John Wilkins Guest

    Jim Menegay <[email protected]> wrote:

    > r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote:
    > > Tim, I am afraid the facts indicate that prokaryotes
    > > really do outweigh everything else.
    >
    > Everyone has heard of Newton and his apple, but it is a
    > little known fact that Archimedes was also a victim of
    > the falling fruit. After some investigation, he came up
    > with the theory that apples accelerate as they fall.
    > However, his contemporaries pointed out that apple leaves
    > do not seem to accelerate, and there are more leaves than
    > apples. The debate soon turned to whether the leaves
    > outweighed the apples. Archimedes eventually lost
    > interest in his original idea and turned to his brilliant
    > studies regarding the count of the number of grains of
    > sand in the cosmos.
    >
    > This story was told in the first edition of Plutarch, and
    > was known to every Roman schoolboy, but it was suppressed
    > from later editions due to the influence of the
    > neoAristotelian establishment. ;-)

    Care to identify which work by Plutarch it was? http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-
    Plutarch.html

    Otherwise it's just a legend ab urbe condita :)
    --
    John Wilkins [email protected]
    http://www.wilkins.id.au "Men mark it when they hit, but do
    not mark it when they miss"
    - Francis
    Bacon
     
  9. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra Guest

    William Morse <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > [email protected] (chupacabra) wrote in news:c6bde4$qje$1
    > @darwin.ediacara.org:
    >
    > > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > news:<c69ku1$8kp$1
    > >>
    > >> Regarding intelligence - maybe the most
    > >> intellectual are
    > reproductively
    > >> handicapped (I agree there is evidence to support
    > >> this).
    > >>
    > >> ...but the least intellectual are *also* reproductively
    > >> handicapped.
    > >>
    > >> To argue that mankind is getting stupider is to argue
    > >> that the first effect is more significant than the
    > >> second one - but I don't know of any evidence to
    > >> suggest that that is true.
    > >
    > > Do you mean that humanity is progressing towards
    > > ordinarity and mediocrity?
    > >
    > > By the way, how would you explain significant changes in
    > > human phenotype during the last century, I mean people
    > > have become much taller, weigh more, are less
    > > susceptible to some diseases etc. These changes were
    > > apparently too fast to be explained by the natural
    > > selection.
    > >
    > >
    >
    > Another change that has occurred is that "raw" IQ scores-
    > unadjusted to the average of 100 - have consistently
    > increased. Probably most of these changes have to do with
    > better nutrition - but it also means that your argument
    > that mankind is getting stupider is actually contrary to
    > the evidence.

    I would blame better education - the brains being more
    trained today than century ago -- still i'm talking about
    their inborn capabilities decreasing through generations.

    > By the way, when you mention the number of children vs.
    > financial status
    > - who are you assuming fathered the children?

    Maybe some not too prosperous donors of sperm banks. Buy the
    way -- they get their physical health checked, but didn't
    pass any IQ test.
    >
    > Yours,
    >
    > Bill Morse
     
  10. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra Guest

    Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > chupacabra <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > news:<c69ku1$8kp$1
    >
    > > > Regarding intelligence - maybe the most intellectual
    > > > are reproductively handicapped (I agree there is
    > > > evidence to support this).
    > > >
    > > > ...but the least intellectual are *also*
    > > > reproductively handicapped.
    > > >
    > > > To argue that mankind is getting stupider is to argue
    > > > that the first effect is more significant than the
    > > > second one - but I don't know of any evidence to
    > > > suggest that that is true.
    > >
    > > Do you mean that humanity is progressing towards
    > > ordinarity and mediocrity?
    >
    > No.
    >
    > > By the way, how would you explain significant changes in
    > > human phenotype during the last century, I mean people
    > > have become much taller, weigh more, are less
    > > susceptible to some diseases etc. These changes were
    > > apparently too fast to be explained by the natural
    > > selection.
    >
    > So: they are due to changes in the environment - in the
    > form of technologies such as farming and medicine.

    How would you imagine the changes in farm technologies
    influencing the human stature? Children suffering a constant
    malnutrition will probably have some health problems in
    future -- including the retention in growth. Still, 50 and
    even 100 y-s ago people in developed world were rarely
    starving, yet were mush lower than now.
     
  11. R Norman

    R Norman Guest

    On Fri, 23 Apr 2004 05:20:22 +0000 (UTC), Jarek Hirny
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >> The underground environment represents what I previously
    >> described as the "nooks and crannies" of the world -
    >> where most bacteria have been driven by the virtual
    >> conquest of the land by complex organisms.
    >
    >Tim,
    >
    >I'd be really grateful if you'd provide me with some
    >arguments for your thesis, the one left above. You seem to
    >take it for granted that complex organisms drove out the
    >simple ones from their niches, yet I can't recall anything
    >which would support it.
    >
    >E.g. what is the niche that once was populated by Eukaryota
    > and which has been conquered by human/apes or just
    > anything more complex? Where number of Eukaryotes
    > (absolutely, not relatively) grew smaller and smaller?
    >
    >Simple organisms are, well, simple. They may faster adapt
    >to changing also, probably, in general, they have a wider
    >range of allowable conditions in which they can live. I see
    >no reason why they could be driven out -- yes, the
    >conditions change, but this makes no problem for them.
    >

    Tim seems to be afflicted by the common blinders of
    anthropocentric thinking. The terrestrial habitat is an
    exceptionally difficult one to survive in. Only the
    multicellular plants, animals, and fungi were able to
    produce the structural complexity necessary to prevent
    desiccation, support the body against gravity, and reproduce
    without water. If we very large organisms simply look around
    our world, we see only complexity where the microorganisms
    inhabit only "nooks and crannies" of wetness where they can
    find it. The fallacy is, as you point out, the microbes
    never were here on land in the first place to be displaced.
    In aquatic systems and substrate (soil and sediment) which
    are wet, the prokaryotes were always present and have never
    been displaced. And they have also invaded our own
    terrestrial world in every location and instance that gives
    them an opportunity.
     
  12. Jim Menegay

    Jim Menegay Guest

    [email protected] (John Wilkins) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Jim Menegay <[email protected]> wrote:
    > > Everyone has heard of Newton and his apple, but it is a
    > > little known fact that Archimedes was also a victim of
    > > the falling fruit. After some investigation, he came up
    > > with the theory that apples accelerate as they fall.
    > > However, his contemporaries pointed out that apple
    > > leaves do not seem to accelerate, and there are more
    > > leaves than apples. The debate soon turned to whether
    > > the leaves outweighed the apples. Archimedes eventually
    > > lost interest in his original idea and turned to his
    > > brilliant studies regarding the count of the number of
    > > grains of sand in the cosmos.
    > >
    > > This story was told in the first edition of Plutarch,
    > > and was known to every Roman schoolboy, but it was
    > > suppressed from later editions due to the influence of
    > > the neoAristotelian establishment. ;-)
    >
    > Care to identify which work by Plutarch it was? http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-
    > Plutarch.html
    >
    > Otherwise it's just a legend ab urbe condita :)

    The story was in the Marcellus, I'm told, with the other
    Archimedes anecdotes. But this doesn't mean that it is not
    an urban legend, too.

    In fact, it is a mistake, I believe, to place urban legends
    and intellectual history into distinct genres. The only
    distinction is in the target audience and (as the Marxists
    might add) the source of patronage.

    It is all just half-lies and distortions intended to edify
    and amuse.
     
  13. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote or quoted:

    > Tim seems to be afflicted by the common blinders of
    > anthropocentric thinking. The terrestrial habitat is an
    > exceptionally difficult one to survive in. Only the
    > multicellular plants, animals, and fungi were able to
    > produce the structural complexity necessary to prevent
    > desiccation, support the body against gravity, and
    > reproduce without water. If we very large organisms simply
    > look around our world, we see only complexity where the
    > microorganisms inhabit only "nooks and crannies" of
    > wetness where they can find it. The fallacy is, as you
    > point out, the microbes never were here on land in the
    > first place to be displaced. In aquatic systems and
    > substrate (soil and sediment) which are wet, the
    > prokaryotes were always present and have never been
    > displaced. And they have also invaded our own terrestrial
    > world in every location and instance that gives them an
    > opportunity.

    Because of global competion for nutrients, organisms do not
    have to be in the same environment or physical location to
    be in competition with one another.

    I.e. those resources that are tied up in the form of forests
    should be subtracted from the pool of resorces
    available for forming bacteria.

    It is true that - at the moment - complex life is doing
    rather better on land than in the sea. However, that
    situation is probaly not going to last for very long. We can
    expect some serious reinvasions of the ocean as the land
    continues to fill up with complex organisms.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  14. John Wilkins

    John Wilkins Guest

    Jim Menegay <[email protected]> wrote:

    > [email protected] (John Wilkins) wrote:
    > > Jim Menegay <[email protected]> wrote:
    > > > Everyone has heard of Newton and his apple, but it is
    > > > a little known fact that Archimedes was also a victim
    > > > of the falling fruit. After some investigation, he
    > > > came up with the theory that apples accelerate as they
    > > > fall. However, his contemporaries pointed out that
    > > > apple leaves do not seem to accelerate, and there are
    > > > more leaves than apples. The debate soon turned to
    > > > whether the leaves outweighed the apples. Archimedes
    > > > eventually lost interest in his original idea and
    > > > turned to his brilliant studies regarding the count of
    > > > the number of grains of sand in the cosmos.
    > > >
    > > > This story was told in the first edition of Plutarch,
    > > > and was known to every Roman schoolboy, but it was
    > > > suppressed from later editions due to the influence of
    > > > the neoAristotelian establishment. ;-)
    > >
    > > Care to identify which work by Plutarch it was? http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-
    > > Plutarch.html
    > >
    > > Otherwise it's just a legend ab urbe condita :)
    >
    > The story was in the Marcellus, I'm told, with the other
    > Archimedes anecdotes. But this doesn't mean that it is not
    > an urban legend, too.

    I went to that site and searched, to no avail... we must
    have the censored version by those horrid neo-Aristotelians.
    >
    > In fact, it is a mistake, I believe, to place urban
    > legends and intellectual history into distinct genres. The
    > only distinction is in the target audience and (as the
    > Marxists might add) the source of patronage.
    >
    > It is all just half-lies and distortions intended to edify
    > and amuse.

    As the author of some intellectual history, I must demur...
    --
    John Wilkins [email protected]
    http://www.wilkins.id.au "Men mark it when they hit, but do
    not mark it when they miss"
    - Francis
    Bacon
     
  15. R Norman

    R Norman Guest

    On Sat, 24 Apr 2004 04:46:39 +0000 (UTC), Tim Tyler <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote or quoted:
    >
    >> Tim seems to be afflicted by the common blinders of
    >> anthropocentric thinking. The terrestrial habitat is an
    >> exceptionally difficult one to survive in. Only the
    >> multicellular plants, animals, and fungi were able to
    >> produce the structural complexity necessary to prevent
    >> desiccation, support the body against gravity, and
    >> reproduce without water. If we very large organisms
    >> simply look around our world, we see only complexity
    >> where the microorganisms inhabit only "nooks and
    >> crannies" of wetness where they can find it. The fallacy
    >> is, as you point out, the microbes never were here on
    >> land in the first place to be displaced. In aquatic
    >> systems and substrate (soil and sediment) which are wet,
    >> the prokaryotes were always present and have never been
    >> displaced. And they have also invaded our own terrestrial
    >> world in every location and instance that gives them an
    >> opportunity.
    >
    >Because of global competion for nutrients, organisms do not
    >have to be in the same environment or physical location to
    >be in competition with one another.
    >
    >I.e. those resources that are tied up in the form of
    > forests should be subtracted from the pool of resorces
    > available for forming bacteria.
    >
    >It is true that - at the moment - complex life is doing
    >rather better on land than in the sea. However, that
    >situation is probaly not going to last for very long. We
    >can expect some serious reinvasions of the ocean as the
    >land continues to fill up with complex organisms.

    You persist in these strange ideas. Probably the most
    critical nutrient (in the sense that it is usually a
    limiting factor in growth) is nitrogen and the only source
    for usable nitrogen by complex multicellular organisms is
    nitrogen fixation by bacteria. All other limiting nutrients
    like phosphorus or iron or whatever other trace mineral are
    usable only when dissolved in water and then the bacteria
    really do get first crack at them. Only in a tropical rain
    forest do you find nutrients primarily tied up in
    multicellular organisms and there they are almost entirely
    in plants, certainly not animals. Again may I remind you
    that this habitat, impressive as it is, forms only a tiny
    fraction of the biotic world.

    You talk about "reinvasions" of the ocean by complex life
    and, in other posts, about complex life even invading
    underground sedimentary habitats. The fact is that the land
    has been "filled up" with complex organisms for a couple
    hundred million years, now, whether by giant tree ferns and
    horsetails or by coniferous forests and extremely large reptilian-
    like beasts or by flowering trees and insects (with a few
    milk-givers thrown in). The reinvasions have been very few
    and very minor.
     
  16. "Tim Tyler" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Guy Hoelzer <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > > Tim Tyler at [email protected] wrote on 4/20/04 8:34 PM:
    >
    > > > For instance, what's this distinction between
    complexity and
    > > > complicated all about:
    > > >
    > > > ``complexity emerges along with function and structure
    from the merely
    > > > complicated''
    > >
    > > The term "complexity" is appropriately used to describe
    a complex. In this
    > > context I would define a complex as a coherently
    structured network parts
    > > that primarily interact with each other and are less
    well connected to the
    > > external environment. Webster's simply defines it as a
    "unified grouping."
    > > In effect, when complex and systemic dynamics emerge,
    things become LESS
    > > complicated. Complexity breeds simplicity. I think
    that some things appear
    > > to be far more complicated than they really are, because
    we haven't yet
    > > recognized the wholeness of the system or the
    wholenesses of subsystems.
    > > The existence of macroscopic wholes significantly
    reduces apparent
    > > complicatedness. There would be no value, for example,
    in drilling down
    > > reductionistically to the level of quarks to gain a
    better understanding of
    > > animal behavior.
    >
    > FWIW, the dictionary seems to think "complicated" has
    stronger
    > connotations of "harder to understand" than "complex"
    does.
    >
    > It also says:
    >
    > ``Complex implies a combination of many associated parts:
    The composer
    > transformed a simple folk tune into a complex set of
    variations.
    > Complicated stresses elaborate relationship of parts:
    The party's
    > complicated platform confused many voters.''
    >
    > - http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=complex
    > --
    > __________
    > |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.

    So maybe what we're really talking about is degree of
    "elaboration.?" I'm not sure complexity should be that
    complicated. I was under the impression that emergent
    "complexity" arose (at least in many cases) through some
    form of reiteration on differing scales...e.g., the pattern
    of a tree is simply the reiteration of the branching
    pattern, trunk->limbs->leaf etc., on smaller and smaller
    scales. Thus, a great deal of pattern info can be squeezed
    into a relatively small genomic database, along with a
    simple rule/databit, specifying repetition. This kind of
    data (rule) compression can certainly confound definitions
    of complexity, until knowledge of the details of the
    complete process are known I think. Just a non-biologists
    opinion, of course. ...tonyC
     
  17. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    irr <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:

    > No argument from me on Tim's I/O or your 'brain mimicking'
    > computer. But as you correctly point out -- and as I had
    > originally argued -- the neuroanatomical regularity
    > apparent in neural tissue, as specified in the genetic
    > code, ranks low in Kolmogorov complexity. The difference
    > that you and Tim correctly arrive at, which is essentially
    > that the brain is complex not by 'total # of
    > differentiated cell types' but rather on the network of
    > connections between these, is exactly my original point --
    > that the choice of complexity metric as well as what you
    > choose to measure are both of crucial importance. [...]

    They matter if you are trying to draw fine distictions
    between organisms which are otherwise similar - but have
    different size brains.

    > To my knowledge thus far in biology, no generalized
    > complexity metric -- or biological characteristic with
    > which it is used to measure -- has been successful in
    > reconstructing our presupposed anthropocentric scala
    > naturae (i.e. that would characterize living organisms in
    > a hierarchy of complexity on the order of
    > "humans>hominids>protists>bacteria").

    We are the only surviving member of hominidae - and note
    that some of the other members did have even bigger brains
    than us ;-)

    Humans and other apes have roughly equal complexity
    genetically (by most sensible metrics). The main difference
    in complexity of their adult forms lies in the size of their
    brains - and that is something you can only really measure
    by looking at the phenotype.

    If you are trying to measure brain complexity, (perhaps
    thinking that that's where most of the complexity in an
    organism lies) I would probably recommend using the simple
    metric of weighing the brain. Not a perfect measure,
    perhaps, but simple - and often good enough.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  18. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    chupacabra <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<[email protected]>...
    > > chupacabra <[email protected]> wrote or quoted:
    > > > Tim Tyler <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > > news:<c69ku1$8kp$1

    > > > By the way, how would you explain significant changes
    > > > in human phenotype during the last century, I mean
    > > > people have become much taller, weigh more, are less
    > > > susceptible to some diseases etc. These changes were
    > > > apparently too fast to be explained by the natural
    > > > selection.
    > >
    > > So: they are due to changes in the environment - in the
    > > form of technologies such as farming and medicine.
    >
    > How would you imagine the changes in farm technologies
    > influencing the human stature? Children suffering a
    > constant malnutrition will probably have some health
    > problems in future -- including the retention in growth.
    > Still, 50 and even 100 y-s ago people in developed world
    > were rarely starving, yet were mush lower than now.

    Malnutrition is different from starvation - but can still
    cause significant developmental problems.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  19. Tim Tyler

    Tim Tyler Guest

    r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote or quoted:
    > On Sat, 24 Apr 2004 04:46:39 +0000 (UTC), Tim Tyler
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >r norman <[email protected]_comcast.net> wrote or quoted:

    > >> Tim seems to be afflicted by the common blinders of
    > >> anthropocentric thinking. The terrestrial habitat is an
    > >> exceptionally difficult one to survive in. Only the
    > >> multicellular plants, animals, and fungi were able to
    > >> produce the structural complexity necessary to prevent
    > >> desiccation, support the body against gravity, and
    > >> reproduce without water. If we very large organisms
    > >> simply look around our world, we see only complexity
    > >> where the microorganisms inhabit only "nooks and
    > >> crannies" of wetness where they can find it. The
    > >> fallacy is, as you point out, the microbes never were
    > >> here on land in the first place to be displaced. In
    > >> aquatic systems and substrate (soil and sediment) which
    > >> are wet, the prokaryotes were always present and have
    > >> never been displaced. And they have also invaded our
    > >> own terrestrial world in every location and instance
    > >> that gives them an opportunity.
    > >
    > >Because of global competion for nutrients, organisms do
    > >not have to be in the same environment or physical
    > >location to be in competition with one another.
    > >
    > >I.e. those resources that are tied up in the form of
    > > forests should be subtracted from the pool of
    > > resorces available for forming bacteria.
    > >
    > >It is true that - at the moment - complex life is doing
    > >rather better on land than in the sea. However, that
    > >situation is probaly not going to last for very long. We
    > >can expect some serious reinvasions of the ocean as the
    > >land continues to fill up with complex organisms.
    >
    > You persist in these strange ideas. Probably the most
    > critical nutrient (in the sense that it is usually a
    > limiting factor in growth) is nitrogen and the only source
    > for usable nitrogen by complex multicellular organisms is
    > nitrogen fixation by bacteria. All other limiting
    > nutrients like phosphorus or iron or whatever other trace
    > mineral are usable only when dissolved in water and then
    > the bacteria really do get first crack at them. Only in a
    > tropical rain forest do you find nutrients primarily tied
    > up in multicellular organisms and there they are almost
    > entirely in plants, certainly not animals.

    I don't recall even mentioning animals.

    And there are *plenty* of other forests besides tropical
    rain forests.

    The world's largest forests are in Russia. If you want to
    see forests, it is not to tropical zones - but to Siberia -
    that you should head.

    > Again may I remind you that this habitat, impressive as it
    > is, forms only a tiny fraction of the biotic world.

    Rain forests maybe - but they are not where most of the
    trees are.

    Forests and trees are pretty important - in terms of the
    fraction of the biotic world they represent by mass.

    Also, if you look at the world from space it's mainly the
    macroscopic organisms which you can see - rather than
    bacterial colonies.

    > You talk about "reinvasions" of the ocean by complex life
    > and, in other posts, about complex life even invading
    > underground sedimentary habitats. The fact is that the
    > land has been "filled up" with complex organisms for a
    > couple hundred million years, now, whether by giant tree
    > ferns and horsetails or by coniferous forests and
    > extremely large reptilian-like beasts or by flowering
    > trees and insects (with a few milk-givers thrown in). The
    > reinvasions have been very few and very minor.

    So what? Complex life didn't invade space at all over the
    same period.

    Should we conclude that - therefore - it isn't going to?

    Of course not - that would be a gross underestimate the
    potential of high-technology engineering.
    --
    __________
    |im |yler http://timtyler.org/ [email protected] Remove
    lock to reply.
     
  20. Jim Menegay

    Jim Menegay Guest

    As I write, I have open in front of me an article by
    Gregoire Nicolis entitled "Physics of far-from-equilibrium
    systems and self-organization" which appears in "The New
    Physics", Paul Davies, ed.

    I also have open a textbook by Yaneer Bar-Yam entitled
    "Dynamics of Complex Systems" and a second textbook by
    Kondepudi and Prigogine entitled "Modern Thermodynamics -
    From Heat Engines to Dissipative Structures".

    The Prigogine textbook doesn't mention "complex" or
    "complexity". The Nicolis article mentions both structural
    and behavioral complexity and suggests that algorithmic
    complexity is the correct way to quantify both. The
    transition, as a system moves farther from equilibrium, from
    a spatially simple state to a self-organized spatially
    structured state is described, and it is explicitly noted
    that this transition results in the appearance of "a modest
    complexity". The source of this increment of complexity in
    spontaneous symmetry breaking is explained. He then goes on
    to extrapolate: "We can therefore say that we have literally
    witnessed the birth of complexity thru self-organization.
    True, the type of complexity achieved is rather modest, but
    nevertheless it presents characteristics which were usually
    ascribed exclusively to biological systems." Later in the
    article, he describes a second kind of spontaneous
    transition that takes place farther from equilibrium - the
    appearance of chaotic dynamics. Here, he notes that while
    the structural complexity is still not particularly high,
    the behavioral complexity is, in some sense, no longer even
    finite - a trace of the system's behavior through any
    parameter results in the continual appearance of new
    information. He speculates that if this information is
    somehow "remembered" by the system, then even the structural
    complexity can be driven to high levels. And that, he
    believes, is the explanation for biology.

    The Bar-Yam textbook also defines structural and behavioral
    complexity using the notion of algorithmic complexity -
    mentioning the name of Kolmogorov. But it also defines a
    "complex system", as distinguished from a "simple system".
    So, here we have a basis for Dr. Holtzer's binary viewpoint.
    So, what is "complex" in Bar-Yam's view? It actually has no
    obvious to do with scalar "complexity". Instead, a "complex"
    system exhibits emergence, whereas a simple one does not.
    Bar-Yam promises to tie together this idea of a complex
    system to the metric ideas of complexity. IMO, he fails
    utterly to deliver on this promise.

    Tim suggests the reading of "complex" as "complicated" -
    that is, difficult to understand. IMO, this is much of the
    explanation of the fascination that this collection of ideas
    has. Because, however they define "complex", the
    promulgators of this viewpoint do all agree on what ideas
    belong in an article or textbook on "complexity theory".
    Prigogine's thermodynamics, Feigenbaum's logistic maps,
    strange attractors, Turing's morphogenetic fields,
    renormalization, and a whole lot of handwaving are the
    standard menu. All of these ideas are just complicated
    enough, and just related enough, that in a mist of partial
    understanding there is a tantalizing hallucination that some
    grand synthesis is just over the horizon.

    IMO, while there may be some philosophical interest in
    explaining complexity, complexity is not part of the
    explanation for any phenomenon of interest to biology,
    chemistry, or any other natural science. Some systems of
    great structural complexity have simple behaviors, some have
    complex behaviors, some have chaotic behaviors. But the same
    can be said of systems that are quite simple structurally.
    The notion of emergence is useful, but it is an idea much
    older than the rest of "complexity theory" and it is not
    really conceptually connected to any of these newer ideas.
     
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