- Feb 2023
First, I am a big fan of Chris’ posts. He is our best historian. Second, I did not challenge his ideas but asked for clarification about some terms which I believe are of general interest. Chris is well-positioned to answer my questions. Third, statistical mechanics is more about microscopic systems that do not evolve. As we know, ideas (from concepts to theories) evolve and generally emerge from previous ideas. Emergence is the key concept here. I suggested Phenomics as a potential metaphor because it represents well the emergence of some systems (phenotypes) from pre-existing ones (genotypes).
reply to u/New-Investigator-623 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10r6uwp/comment/j6wy4mf/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
Ideas, concepts, propositions, et al. in this context are just the nebulous dictionary definitions. Their roots and modern usage have so much baggage now that attempting to separate them into more technical meanings is difficult unless you've got a solid reason to do so. I certainly don't here. If you want to go down some of the rabbit hole on the differences, you might appreciate Winston Perez' work on concept modeling which he outlines with respect to innovation and creativity here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGQ-dW7yfPc.
I debated on a more basic framing of chemistry or microbiology versus statistical mechanics or even the closely related statistical thermodynamics, but for the analogy here, I think it works even if it may scare some off as "too hard". With about 20 linear feet of books in my library dedicated to biology, physics, math, engineering with a lot of direct focus on evolutionary theory, complexity theory, and information theory I would suggest that the underlying physics of statistical mechanics and related thermodynamics is precisely what allows the conditions for systems to evolve and emerge, for this is exactly what biological (and other) systems have done. For those intrigued, perhaps Stuart Kauffman's Origins of Order (if you're technically minded) or At Home in the Universe (if you're less technically oriented) are interesting with respect to complexity and emergence. There's also an interesting similar analogy to be made between a zettelkasten system and the systems described in Peter Hoffman's book Life's Rachet. I think that if carefully circumscribed, one could define a zettelkasten to be "alive". That's a bigger thesis for another time. I was also trying to stay away from the broad idea of "atomic" and drawing attention to "atomic notes" as a concept. I'm still waiting for some bright physicist to talk about sub-atomic notes and what that might mean... I see where you're going with phenomics, but chemistry and statistical mechanics were already further afield than the intended audience who already have issues with "The Two Cultures". Getting into phenomics was just a bridge too far... not to mention, vastly more difficult to attempt to draw(!!!). 😉 Besides, I didn't want Carol Greider dropping into my DMs asking me why didn't I include telomeres or chancing an uncomfortable LAX-BWI flight and a train/cab ride into Baltimore with Peter Agre who's popped up next to me on more than one occasion.
Honestly, I was much less satisfied with the nebulousness of "solution of life"... fortunately no one seems to be complaining about that or their inability to grapple with catalysis. 🤷🏼