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Dean Pomerleau

The Ultimate Purpose of Life

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On 5/27/2020 at 11:56 AM, Dean Pomerleau said:

my version of the multiverse / Intelligent Design argument makes the prediction that one pass through darwinian evolution will prove not to be sufficient to explain the complexity and variety of life we observe

That's a pretty standard creationist argument. Lot's of ways why it fails, here is a quick and dirty summary that I found to be on point. It's a good read:

 

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics,and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations

Problems with the creationists' "it's so improbable" calculations

1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.

2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.

4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

I will try and walk people through these various errors, and show why it is not possible to do a "probability of abiogenesis" calculation in any meaningful way.

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17 hours ago, Ron Put said:

That's a pretty standard creationist argument.

No its not. First, if you read that post and the one before it, it wasn't about abiogenesis but about bread-and-butter evolutionary development of genes coding for important proteins (like hemoglobin). Second, I wasn't making any calculations myself, but commenting on the calculations of a mathematician and a biologist from UPenn who wrote the paper claiming there was "plenty of time" for evolution.

The author of your article about abiogenesis is probably right - it is not possible to calculate the probability of abiogenesis in any meaningful way, since it was (presumably) a one-off event and will remain a mystery as to how probable it is until/unless we can repeat it.

But the evolution of new genes and new traits has happened repeatedly over history and can be explored in laboratory experiments (e.g. with yeast and other simple organisms). It is therefore perfectly scientific and in some instances tractable problem.

Plus, I'm not arguing that the time available and population size of life on earth is not enough to explain the complexity of what has evolved. What I'm saying is if, after careful scientific study by credible experts based on the frequency of beneficial mutations and a whole lot of other factors, it is determined that evolution hasn't had time to come up with the complexity that has evolved, then it would provide support for my hypothesis (discussed earlier in this thread here) that evolution could be happening across multiple universes with the best solutions retained and propagated between them.

 This idea of searching across multiple universes for good solutions to evolutionary fitness may seem fanciful and implausible. But it bears a strong resemblence to a theory of how quantum computers function which is advocated by respected physicists like David Deutsch. Here is Deutsch talking about it in a 2011 New Yorker article discussing his book The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and its Implications:

“the quantum theory of parallel universes is not the problem—it is the solution. . . . It is the explanation—the only one that is tenable—of a remarkable and counterintuitive reality.” The theory also explains how quantum computers might work. Deutsch told me that a quantum computer would be “the first technology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between parallel universes.” The quantum computer’s processing power would come from a kind of outsourcing of work, in which calculations literally take place in other universes. Entangled particles would function as paths of communication among different universes, sharing information and gathering the results. So, for example, with the case of Shor’s algorithm, Deutsch said, “When we run such an algorithm, countless instances of us are also running it in other universes. The computer then differentiates some of those universes (by creating a superposition) and as a result they perform part of the computation on a huge variety of different inputs. Later, those values affect each other, and thereby all contribute to the final answer, in just such a way that the same answer appears in all the universes.”

And the idea that quantum mechanics provides remarkable potential to search in parallel isn't confined to finicky and yet-to-be-fully-realized quantum computers.

While the idea is not without controversy, there is pretty good evidence (published in Nature Physics in 2014 and elsewhere) that biology exploits the idea of quantum parallel search via superposition too, in the way chlorophyll, against all odds, is able to direct the path that electrons take so as to harvest their energy with maximum efficiency for photosynthesis, something that couldn't happen if electrons were taking a single "random walk" through the plant's photosynthetic machinery as standard classical physics would suggest.

I'm the first to admit that the idea of searching across multiple universe for good solutions to evolutionary fitness is highly speculative and the details of how it would work aren't fleshed out in the way Shor's algorithm specifies in great detail how to exploit quantum parallel search to find the solution to factoring large numbers.

But is isn't an unscientific idea (since it makes at least one falsifiable prediction, as I discussed in my earlier post) and could potentially explain the complexity we see without invoking a sentient Creator, which you are loath to do.  You could think of it as an extension of evolution by natural selection in which the search space of possible biological solutions is greatly expanded by exploiting quantum superposition and (potentially) multiple universes.

--Dean

 

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On 3/11/2021 at 11:12 AM, Dean Pomerleau said:

First, if you read that post and the one before it, it wasn't about abiogenesis but about bread-and-butter evolutionary development of genes coding for important proteins (like hemoglobin). Second, I wasn't making any calculations myself, but commenting on the calculations of a mathematician and a biologist from UPenn who wrote the paper claiming there was "plenty of time" for evolution.

Hah, after I clicked "Reply" I thought that someone (you) would bring up such an objection, even though the abiogenesis argument I referred to still applies in principle.

And the "hemoglobin" bit is another standard creationist argument against evolution. A quick search finds a good bit of research on the subject, most of it not having to resort to multiple universes for a plausible explanation. Such as this:

Tracing the evolution of hemoglobin
 

There was another study that I ran across recently, but can't find now, discussing the relative instability of a particular type of hemoglobin gene clusters likely contributing to evolutionary pressures. 

I am not arguing that the multiverse theories are wrong. I find them quite fascinating, but I really doubt that we need to look to them for answers in this case.

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1 hour ago, Ron Put said:

And the "hemoglobin" bit is another standard creationist argument against evolution. A quick search finds a good bit of research on the subject, most of it not having to resort to multiple universes for a plausible explanation. Such as this:


Ron,

You continue to misunderstand my hypothesis. I'm not saying hemoglobin couldn't have evolved. I'm fully on-board with evolution by natural selection. What I'm suggesting is the possibility that if the type of "punctuated evolution" events that the hemoglobin study you referenced turn out to happen more often / quickly than can be explained by the rate of mutation and permutation given the population size, then it would support the idea that evolution by natural selection was occurring across multiple universes. 

In fact, the study you referenced is exactly the kind of scientific effort that could provide evidence one way or the other on my hypothesis. Note that the study you referenced doesn't necessarily support the kind a "continuous small tinkering" model of evolution. In fact quite the opposite. To quote the authors:

The traditional view of how biological complexity evolves is that it increases gradually over the course of many mutations that each cause small improvements in fitness. The new research shows that complicated new structures can come into being very quickly.
This suggests that jumps in complexity can happen suddenly and even by chance during evolution, producing new molecular entities that eventually become essential to our biology.

 The open question is whether the fact that "complicated new structures [like hemoglobin] can come into being very quickly" and "by chance" can be readily explained given the available building blocks (i.e. genetic sequences for simpler proteins), the mutation rate, the recombination rate, population size and time scales available.  If the answer turns out to be no, then it would lend credence to my hypothesis of evolution occurring across multiple universe to find and lock in fitness-enhancing solutions. If the answer turns out to be yes, then it would tend to undermine my hypothesis. 

My original point was simply to show (contra your argument that multiverse theories are unscientific) that certain versions of the multiverse theory can have testable, falsifiable implications, and therefore should be considered legitimate scientific theories quite distinct from creationist notions.

--Dean

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I completely agree with Dean.  Also, I believe in the multiverse -- IMO, it's the only imaginable hypothesis that can explain most of the paradoxes of quantum mechanics: an electron circles a proton -- where is it?  It has a certain probability of being in various locations at any given moment.  No problem if it's in all of these positions -- just at a different spot in each of the infinitely many multiverses.

I should point out that the recently deceased Stephen Hawking -- who was a militant atheist (like my deceased older brother) -- was a believer in the multiverse.

  --  Saul

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Of course, the Multiverse, as best as I can see, does not explain quantum entanglement.

We live in a weird universe -- whether we are theists or not.

I don't believe that Hawking ever expressed a theory (or even vague idea) of an explanation of that phenomenon.

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On 2/25/2021 at 11:16 AM, mccoy said:

 

At the end, Sabine Hossenfleder says: "..It means that you have to believe it because you have faith, not because you have logic on your side.

....

If I reason using Sabine Hossenfleder's arguments, I may conclude that all research on string theory must be immediately halted since that's just a faith-based, useless waste of public money.

mccoy,

Sabine Hossenfleder is very consistent in her reasoning which she expresses in her blog. As far as I understood (have been reading time from time her blog for a couple of years) she thinks the string theory and the multiverse theory as many other mathematically “beautiful” theories of physics are futile.  And a lot of contemporary policies in funding of physics is a waste of money. Physics now is in crisis, it needs leap upwards, which might be achieved reviewing all proven theories of physics, reviewing its foundations and possibly finding underlooked details, which might hint a direction further.

 

This is the opinion I have got reading Sabine's blog.

Edited by tds
Grammatical errors

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16 hours ago, tds said:

Sabine Hossenfleder is very consistent in her reasoning which she expresses in her blog. As far as I understood (have been reading time from time her blog for a couple of years) she thinks the string theory and the multiverse theory as many other mathematically “beautiful” theories of physics are futile.  And a lot of contemporary policies in funding of physics is a waste of money. Physics now is in crisis, it needs leap upwards, which might be achieved reviewing all proven theories of physics, reviewing its foundations and possibly finding underlooked details, which might hint a direction further.

Thanks Tds, I appreciate Sabine Hossenfleder's consistency in her reasonings!

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And to get back to the multiverses theory, I wonder how it can be testable...

Of course, it cannot rule out the existence of a creator/simulator, even by stepping up the complexity of the creation/simulation by semi-infinite orders of magnitude.The creator/simulator may just have created an unfathomably complex and unimaginably vast creation/simulation.

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For me, for a 20 years old young. Some happiness and dealing with life as studying my major. But i think the ultimate purpose can’t be same all the time. By the way, working and resting that summarises most people’s lives except who enjoy their job. In my honest opinion.

or

At the moment and a bit for the future want to get high serotonine and dopamine levels. 🙂
Addition: Just for nature. So it will recycle us as U.G. Krishnamurti said.

Please have a look at it. 

 

Edited by mgoktas20

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On 3/21/2021 at 2:42 PM, Dean Pomerleau said:

What I'm suggesting is the possibility that if the type of "punctuated evolution" events that the hemoglobin study you referenced turn out to happen more often / quickly than can be explained by the rate of mutation and permutation given the population size, then it would support the idea that evolution by natural selection was occurring across multiple universes. 

I don't believe that I am misunderstanding, but I believe that there are other, simpler explanations and there is no particular need to reach to arguably unfalsifiable, at least currently, theories.

The explanation I posted above applies and since the vast majority of mutations are either harmful or useless, a punctuated theory fits rather well.

Here is an interesting discussion on "quantum biology" that may eventually fill in some of the gaps, again, without reaching for multiverses:
 

 

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59 minutes ago, Ron Put said:

Here is an interesting discussion on "quantum biology" that may eventually fill in some of the gaps, again, without reaching for multiverses:

Great video. Thanks Ron. But you seem to (again) be not quite understanding what the scientists (particularly Seth Lloyd - the bald guy on the right) is saying and implying.

First, Seth is outright saying that he agrees with the evidence I discussed above (here) that during photosynthesis plants seem to be exploiting quantum mechanics to perform parallel search to find the path for the "exciton" to get to the reaction center in the most efficient way possible.

Second, and most interestingly, Seth had a debate with the scientists I quoted in my above referenced post, David Deutsch. The text is available here. Seth says:

I think that we agree that that quantum description of the universe (the "wave function") is constantly branching into different "worlds," in one of which we are debating now, in another of which I am debating Penrose, and in others (I hope the plurality) of which we are amicably sipping margaritas on the beach. Each one of these "worlds" seems equally real to its inhabitants, even if these multiple realities are mutually exclusive. In addition, quantum mechanics picks out no one of these "worlds" or branches as special.

He goes on to say:

In a quantum computation, as you point out, the branches actually do interfere with each other, allowing the computation of quantities, such as factors of large numbers, that are properties of all the branches taken together but not of any branch in particular. ... But the very fact that the quantum computer gives us an answer that depends on all the branches at once means that the universe has not really split: Those branches were part of our world, not of other worlds! The universe splits if and only if its branches decohere.

In short, Seth seems be saying that there exist parallel branches in which he is doing different things, but since they can interfere with each other (prior to decoherence), they aren't really parallel worlds - all those branches are all part of our world! David Deutsch says (and I agree) that simply seems like sematics - if there are branches where different things are happening, you can call them parallel universes or simply branches of our one universe. But it amounts to the same thing..

In short, Seth Lloyd believes:

  1. The multiverses theory is correct and specifically, there exist many copies of himself (and Roger Penrose) existing in parallel. 
  2. These many branches can interfere with each other allowing for computation.
  3. Biology appears to be able to exploit this interference between many parallel branches to actually do computatioan, i.e. to find the optimal path for the exciton, thereby making photosynthesis incredibly efficient.

These three points are exactly what I was argument as a proof of concept for the hypothesis I put forth that a similar "search across parallel branches of the multiverse" mechanism could potentially be exploited by evolution by natural selection to find the best genetic variants to maximize fitness.

--Dean

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19 hours ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

Great video. Thanks Ron. But you seem to (again) be not quite understanding what the scientists (particularly Seth Lloyd - the bald guy on the right) is saying and implying.

First, Seth is outright saying that he agrees with the evidence I discussed above (here) that during photosynthesis plants seem to be exploiting quantum mechanics to perform parallel search to find the path for the "exciton" to get to the reaction center in the most efficient way possible.

Second, and most interestingly, Seth had a debate with the scientists I quoted in my above referenced post, David Deutsch. The text is available here. Seth says:

I think that we agree that that quantum description of the universe (the "wave function") is constantly branching into different "worlds," in one of which we are debating now, in another of which I am debating Penrose, and in others (I hope the plurality) of which we are amicably sipping margaritas on the beach. Each one of these "worlds" seems equally real to its inhabitants, even if these multiple realities are mutually exclusive. In addition, quantum mechanics picks out no one of these "worlds" or branches as special.

He goes on to say:

In a quantum computation, as you point out, the branches actually do interfere with each other, allowing the computation of quantities, such as factors of large numbers, that are properties of all the branches taken together but not of any branch in particular. ... But the very fact that the quantum computer gives us an answer that depends on all the branches at once means that the universe has not really split: Those branches were part of our world, not of other worlds! The universe splits if and only if its branches decohere.

In short, Seth seems be saying that there exist parallel branches in which he is doing different things, but since they can interfere with each other (prior to decoherence), they aren't really parallel worlds - all those branches are all part of our world! David Deutsch says (and I agree) that simply seems like sematics - if there are branches where different things are happening, you can call them parallel universes or simply branches of our one universe. But it amounts to the same thing..

In short, Seth Lloyd believes:

  1. The multiverses theory is correct and specifically, there exist many copies of himself (and Roger Penrose) existing in parallel. 
  2. These many branches can interfere with each other allowing for computation.
  3. Biology appears to be able to exploit this interference between many parallel branches to actually do computatioan, i.e. to find the optimal path for the exciton, thereby making photosynthesis incredibly efficient.

These three points are exactly what I was argument as a proof of concept for the hypothesis I put forth that a similar "search across parallel branches of the multiverse" mechanism could potentially be exploited by evolution by natural selection to find the best genetic variants to maximize fitness.

--Dean

Well said.  I also think it likely that some form of the "multiple worlds" theory may be necessary to explain most of "quantum wierdness".  The one exception:  I can't imagine any reasonable looking explanation for quantum entanglement.

  --  Saul

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I was reading this article from Scientific American last night before bed (note the publication date) : 

Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation

We must never doubt Elon Musk again

Afterwards I had a dream that I had signed up to take a masters course in Musk companies' technology, then Elon himself showed up, and we went to some lab at his request, and he started to pan fry lobster tails. 

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I like Shakespeare's characterization of life:

"... It is a tale,

Full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing,"

Your eminent Shakespeare scholar,

  --  Saul

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