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Author Topic:   Biological Time
Posts: 22554
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
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Message 1 of 2 (912608)
09-16-2023 10:22 AM

A recent article in American Scientist (Time Is an Object | American Scientist) argues that the time of physics and the time of biology are not the same thing. In physics a particle need have no history, but in biology evolution can only happen by way of a passage through time behind which it leaves a history. It's called assembly theory, and as the name suggests inherently rebuts the common creationist claim, tailored for the ignorant, that life arising naturally is impossible because complex organic molecules could never form spontaneously in the moment.
Assembly theory makes explicit what biologists have known all along, that life doesn't occur all at once in the moment. For biological objects the current moment is the culmination of long wakes of history through time during which they were designed and constructed by environment and chance.
Only the beginning of the article is available for free, so I'll quote some small portions:
Incompatible Ideas of Time:
During the past several billion years, life has evolved from single-celled organisms to complex multicellular organisms. It has evolved from simple societies to teeming cities, and now a planet potentially capable of reproducing its life on other worlds. These things take time to come into existence, because they can emerge only through the processes of selection and evolution.
We think Darwin’s insight does not go deep enough. Evolution accurately describes changes observed across different forms of life, but it does much more: It is the only physical process in our universe that can generate the objects we associate with life. This wider definition includes bacteria, cats, and trees, but also things such as rockets, mobile phones, and cities. None of these objects fluctuates into existence spontaneously, despite what popular accounts of modern physics may claim can happen. These objects are not random flukes. Instead, they all require a memory of the past to be made in the present. They must be produced over time—a time that continually moves forward. And yet, according to Newton, Einstein, Carnot, Boltzmann, and others, time is either nonexistent or merely emergent.
Reconciling Theories of Time:
The times of physics and of evolution are incompatible. But this conflict has not always been obvious, because physics and evolution deal with different kinds of objects. Physics, particularly quantum mechanics, deals with simple and elementary objects: quarks, leptons, and force carrier particles of the Standard Model. Because these objects are considered simple, they do not require memory for the universe to make them (assuming sufficient energy and resources are available).
Think of memory as a way to describe the recording of actions or processes that are needed to build a given object. When we get to the disciplines that engage with evolution, such as chemistry and biology, we find objects that are too complex to be produced in abundance instantaneously (even when energy and materials are available). They require memory, accumulated over time, to be produced. As Darwin understood, some objects can come into existence only through evolution and the selection of certain “recordings” from memory to make them.
Assembly Theory:
These and other problems led us to develop a new way of thinking about the physics of time, which we have called assembly theory. It describes how much memory must exist for a molecule or combination of molecules—the objects that life is made from—to come into existence. In assembly theory, this memory is measured across time as a feature of a molecule (or molecules) by focusing on the minimum memory required for that molecule to come into existence. Assembly theory quantifies selection by making time a property of objects that could have emerged only via evolution.

Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Message 2 of 2 (912610)
09-16-2023 10:36 AM

Thread Copied to Biological Evolution Forum
Thread copied to the Biological Time thread in the Biological Evolution forum, this copy of the thread has been closed.

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