One and Three Observers

Early Life, Humans and the Biosphere

The face of the Earth, its image in the cosmos observed from the outside, from the distance of the infinite celestial spaces, seems to us as unique, specific, different from the images of all other celestial bodies.

The biosphere is as much (if not more) a product of the sun as it is a manifestation of terrestrial events. The ancient religious institutions of humanity, which in earthly beings, especially humans, saw the children of the sun, were closer to the truth than was the case with those who saw in earthly beings only transient creations, a blind and accidental game of changes in matter and earthly forces. Vladimir I. Vernadsky – The Biosphere 1926

Fig.01 Solaris and Sun

Each individual organism exists in the present, while all its previous living stages have disappeared. Each of the species today also exists only in the present, while their previous stages could be found only as nonliving remains. However, the entire Biosphere, from one cell organisms to humans, exists today as some kind of living genealogical tree.

Fig.02 Toto

During these pandemic months my best friend turned out to be my little dog Toto, who would take me for a regular walks around the neighborhood on the outskirts of the White City. Often following him, I was trying to understand how he perceives the world around us and how he makes decisions in what direction to go. All these reminded me of Rantanplan, a cartoon character from my youth, who would usually in a funny way understand and interpret, sometimes very dramatic situations in which often found himself and his companion Lucky Luke.

Fig.03 Rantanplan and Lucky Luke

Of course, I would never be able to see the world through the eyes of my little friend, but I am sure that our pictures of the world are very different, and yet our senses belong to the Biosphere as well. In some way, it is similar how each our specialized sensory cell plays its role within our entire our body.

Fig.04 Human eye

We could experience the world around us (Biosphere) directly, from within. However, thanks to the technology we could now see through the various satellite images of Earth (Biosphere) from the Moon, Mars even as a tiny bright point from the 4 billion miles away through the “eye” of the Voyager1. This is also how the Biosphere could see itself from a distance. It is interesting to notice that the relative size of the Sun and the Moon seen from the Earth are the same.

Fig.05 Moon and Earth
Fig.06 Earth from the Voyager1

In a similar way we (and the Biosphere) could also see a sunset on Mars, something no life on Earth had a chance to see before.

Fig.07 Sunset on Mars

When trying to understand /explain the emergence of living from nonliving, we have to take into consideration the nature of the observer(s). Are they looking from the prospective of biology or chemistry? What is their time and space scale? Just consider these differences between bacteria and human. What is a human year for bacteria, and what are three billion (human) years in the process of the development of single cell organisms? In other words, the “image” of what is being observed depends of who is the observer and what are its properties.

Fig.08 Two observers

Being limited by the duration of our existence and the capacity of our means (our senses and brain), we will never be able to understand everything about us and the external world. Some “territory” of the world will always remain uncharted, that we will never be able to reach. It is not fixed territory; it changes as we learn more about the world inside and around us.

Fig.09 Four observers

On the other side, according to the diagram bellow, there is also a part of us as observers, which is not part of the world. It seems that “unknown world” and “I” are not directly connected; do not appear together in any of these two categories: world or observer.  However, regardless of all this, there is no need to invoke some supernatural explanation since that kind of solution would “answer” all the questions except one – the nature of the supernatural itself as it was. This position was clearly articulated by Laplace two centuries ago: ‘Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (I had no need of that hypothesis.)”

Fig.10 Living – nonliving

In this interpretation, these two notions appear as two subsets of the gray-scale that do not overlap completely. There is a part of the observed (black) that is not a part of the observer. It is “unknown”, which in a way represents the idea that we will never be able to know everything about the observed/world. Regardless how much our knowledge expands, there will always be this “black” territory that will remain outside of our reach. Also, on the side of the observer there is a part (white), that we could call “I”(not part of the observed/world). As if “unknown” and “I”( here in positive-negative relation) are placed in two different worlds(?) meeting in the three-part middle section representing known world(dark), receptor(gray) and processor(light).

Fig.11 Observer – observed

It is also worth noticing that we still have a binarity here but presented as gradual division with overlapping middle and two opposite and exclusive ends. The same five-value “formula” could be used for other binary oppositions, like living-nonliving, large-small, hot-cold… and it itself represents gradual transition from black to white. Since this five-value gray scale could represent RNA and DNA bases with three of them that are common, and two U(black) and T(white) on the opposite ends, we can come to conclusion that this very structure was determined by the properties of the earliest living molecule, some kind of proto-RNA. At first it had only two value binary structure(black-white) which was later enlarged by a third value(gray), thus enabling binarity with separation (black/gray and gray/white). This was a step that probably enabled RNA-DNA separation that was at same later stage finalized with the addition of two more values(dark and light). It seems that our perception and interpretation of the world both physically(metabolism) and culturally is in fact defined by a structure that was “discovered” and “articulated” by our earliest ancestors.

Fig.12 Small – large

From our “prospective”, of all three selected observers only human experience is immediate, while the way earliest forms of life (proto-RNA) and the Biosphere perceive(d) the world is here imagined or approximated. However, since humans are built of RNA/DNA and cells, it could be assumed that the way this kind of living forms perceived the world, either as individual entities or as part of a “social group” integrated within its environment, has to be reflected through human properties as well.  And from the time of the emergence of early life and then formation of the single cell organism the entire Biosphere consisted of this kind of life forms for the next three billion years. All this time life could “see” the world only from the inside-out. With the appearance of self-reflecting beings it became possible to observe the world in both ways – from the inside and outside, including observing the observer. Humans began perceiving themselves in a way separate from other living beings, but from the prospective of the Biosphere this was observing itself from within. Only with moving a view-point above the Earth and farther into space it became possible for the Biosphere to see itself from the outside, through Humans.

Fig.13 Bacteria and viruses

Similarly, the experience of Humans and through them of RNA/DNA is included into the Biosphere’s “perception” of the world together with all life on Earth. In  way this resembles Theophile de Bordeu’s bee swarm (“many little lives”) with persistence of both, individuals and the swarm. In our case, individuals are all living beings on Earth and bee swarm would be the entire Biosphere.

Fig.14 Evolution with Scot Turner, lecture Youtube 2019
Fig.14.a Theophile de Bordeu – bee swarm

Each living organism was and is a reflection of its environment, but at the same time it represents its expression/ interpretation. All the diversity of life shows various aspects of the environment and its complexity/diversity, but also all the different ways how this environment was/is perceived and remembered. The earliest life forms had a very simple “picture” of the world that was impressed on/in them, and with the appearance of more complex life forms this picture became more complex as well. In a way the entire evolution could be interpreted as a process of achieving higher resolution pictures of the world by living organisms, which were at the same time impressed on them. If an alien observer would in its laboratory study a living organism from Earth it will be able to learn something about the environment in which that organism lives.

Fig.15 What is Life?

It seems the key notions related to life are: metabolism, replication, perception and memory, all one way or another anti-entropic notions.. Here we will try to imagine/reconstruct how these three entities, three stages of life: proto-RNA, Human and the Biosphere, perceive the world visually. At the same time, these are just three parts of a much larger, mosaic like, single picture of the world by the life itself. We should keep in mind that there is no observation possible without some kind of memory. In fact, no life is possible without memory: The entire body of any living organism represents a complex system of various kinds of memories.

Proto-RNA – smallest observer 10 -6m

When some twenty five years ago I began working on an algorithm that would, instead of letters UCAGT, represent RNA and DNA bases as five values of the gray-scale(black, dark, gray, light, white), the idea was to have RNA/DNA sequences represented visually, as images, like this visual representation of Mumps RNA. The idea to do this came from David Ussery and was then published on ArC-GEM site.

Fig.17 Mumps RNA

Later I began realizing that these images could be interpreted as some kind of reflections of the “world” as perceived and recorded (remembered) by the early life forms. Of course, it is not how the earlier life forms actually perceived the world, but how we could understand and interpret it. One of such attempts is recently posted on this site.

Fig.18 Light and Darkness

How did first life perceive the world? Whatever that “picture” was, it must have been very simple: binary (light-dark) and discrete (proto-RNA bases).

We will most likely never be able to fully understand how we see things around us. I have asked myself many times: how to explain this process that begins with photons traveling a long way from the sun, hitting a tree in front of me, and  reflecting from it enter my eye, inciting numerous retina cells and converting into impulses, traveling through my eye nerves to the vision cortex in the back of my head, where this cluster of millions of connected cells somehow forms the picture of the tree I see in front of me, but which is at the same time in my head as well? And this is just a very crude and schematic description of what is actually happening between this tree and its picture in my head. We might never be able to understand how all this is possible, but perhaps we could try to go back in time, to the very beginnings of life itself, when things probably used to be a bit simpler and try to “reconstruct” or rather “imagine” where our capacity to see and feel the world around us could have come from.

Fig.19 Three-element structures

The entire idea is based on two notions, one is “position” and the other is “value”. Position is a defining property of an element expressed only through its place and neighborhoods within a structure, while value is based on the notion of content and is unrelated to the position. When values occupy elements in a structure of positions we get a 2D image called the state of space.

To define value, it is sufficient to have two distinct properties. They are both neighbors and oppositions at the same time. In this kind of binary structure, if one value is “warm” the other would be “not-warm”, or if one value is “light” the other would be “not-light”.

Fig.20 Light and dark

We could assume that, in the process of formation of the earliest living molecule, a capacity to recognize these properties and thus distinguish itself from its surroundings emerged as one of its key components. However, the features that carry these properties have to be located in some places (positions) within the structure of this molecule. Thus the structure of values has to be in some way associated with a structure of positions, which in this case was probably a linear molecule, and one of its first distinctions was most likely “outside” and “not-outside”, which became “inside” (“me”). It became possible by distinguishing properties such as “warmer” (or “not-warmer”) than “me” that became properties of the “outside”. Acquisition of this capacity to distinguish “warm” had to be acquired at some point for the first time and then “remembered” (“encoded”) within the living molecule. Thus this molecule had to establish at least two different positions related to the capacity to distinguish “warm” from “not-warm”. One position would identify the current state around it, while the other would keep memories of previous (earlier) encounters with the property “warm” and “not-warm”. It is perhaps impossible to reconstruct how this mechanism was established for the first time, but it is almost certain that it was one of the important steps in turning one kind of molecule from non-living into living matter.

Fig.21 Three values

Then at some point the property “not-warm” separated in two distinct and opposite values “hot” and “cold”, while “warm” remained the property of the living molecule that could also be recognized as a third property of the environment. Thus, instead of binary, the system turned into trinary: “hot”, “cold” and “warm”.

Then two more values were articulated and a five-value structure appeared, defining both RNA and DNA as two four-element subsets. This might have been a moment when emerging from proto-RNA both DNA and RNA distinguished themselves from each other and became separate entities with a possibility to establish specific properties and roles in the future cell metabolism.

Fig.22 Visual representation of RNA and DNA

Long time ago it became clear to me that the widely accepted five, in essence arbitrary letters of the Latin alphabet UCAGT do not reflect the true nature of the RNA and DNA, and that the structure based on five discrete values of the gray-scale is much more meaningful solution. What is encoded in those RNA and DNA strands are not only instructions for the protein production, but they also carry vital information/knowledge about the environment necessary for their survival; information that was passed from the earliest living molecules to all life forms on Earth, past and present. At that earliest stage of life the distinction between genotype and phenotype did not exist. Some the work along those lines was presented in the book “DNA Semantics”.

Fig.23 DNA Semantics

2. Human –middle size observer 10 0m

Fig.24 Human brain

– The ways Humans perceive the world are as old as the human civilization. Humans invented the reflective attitude toward understanding the images of the world coming through their eyes, by developing methods and tools to help making sense of what they see. They are the first and only reflective observers with developed external tools (glasses, camera obscura, microscope, telescope, x-rays, magnetic resonance. Hadron collider,..). Thus the image of the world constructed by Humans became universalized.

Fig.25 Human eye and perception

Fig.26 Human vision

However, it is often not clearly understood that this very complex and sophisticated picture of the world nevertheless comes from a very specific single observer and point of view. This is why it would be necessary to imagine/invent various observers that would give us very different pictures of the world, and it seems it is something that only Humans could do. Each individual living being has a different picture of the world, as well as each species.

Fig.27 Human eye anatomy

Imagine eight people sitting in the balloon basket flying high up in the air above observing the world around. From that place all of them would see, more or less, the same picture of the Earth. In this case it would be sufficient to have one observer, since other seven are repeating the same view.

Fig.28 Eight observers

However, an observer hovering a few meters away would see the same beautiful landscape, but also the balloon and eight people in it looking around. Then, another observer standing down on the land will not see only very different picture of the Earth but will also see up in the basket people curiously looking at the Earth as well. Since we could continue coming up with more observers, even with different properties, it is necessary, prior to conducting any observation, to establish a referential observer as a fixed position from where all other observers and events could be perceived.

Fig.29 Human brain
Fig.30 Self-observer and observing instrument

Structurally, referential observer (RO) would consist of sensor(eye), processor(brain/ visual cortex) and interpreter (visual processes – section(s) of the brain that interpret the information and are connected  with memory). Considering recent developments in gene-editing, it might be possible to even genetically change/enhance each of these features that would change the existing picture of the world. For example, broadening the spectrum of electromagnetic waves that eye can see. Or change the genes responsible for aging and extend the life span. In this way Observer2 (Human) is changing Observer1 (RNA/DNA) that would then change Observer2 and the ways it could perceive the world. In other words, phenotype of O2 is making changes in the genotype/ phenotype of O1, at the same time changing both genotype and phenotype of O2. And all this would then inevitable change properties of the Observer3(Biosphere).

Fig.31 Two observers

3. Biosphere – biggest observer 12,756 × 10 6m

Fig.32 Imagining the Biosphere vision

While it was possible to reconstruct (to a degree) the way previous two observers(RNA/DNA and Humans) are perceiving and interpret the world around them, it would be very difficult to imagine how such complex entity like the Biosphere could see the world. One way to do it could be to extrapolate some of the common properties of RNA/DNA and Humans to this enormous and not yet fully formed living entity. If the only way it would be able to see is through the eyes of all its components, i.e. all the organisms that could at least distinguish light from dark.

Fig.33 Day and night

And it is most likely that the first composite image will have two parts: one coming from the eyes that are exposed to the Sun(day-light) and another from the eyes that are in the dark(night). As if  with one our eye we would be looking in the bright and with another in the dark room. All these visual sensors/eyes would be like the pixels on the screen, divided in bright and dark section. On both sections the picture will be pretty uniformed, but as its vision system develops the picture will become more complex. At some point it will start distinguishing images coming from the eyes of organisms under the water from those on the land, and even those that are flying above both of them.

Fig.34 Earth first time seen from space(1946) and Moon(1966)

Perhaps in the next step it could acquire a capacity to “zoom in” through some small group of eyes or even of an individual organism like we do through the microscope. Mainly these will be internal pictures from within the Biosphere, but it will also notice objects outside of it, first of all the Sun and the Moon. These first pictures of Earth from space 1946 and from Moon will in the Biosphere’s memory become the earliest images of itself as seen from the outside, while Laika will be remembered as the first living being and Yuri Gagarin as first human in the process of stretching the life (and the Biosphere) beyond the Earth.

Fig.35 Laika and Gagarin,- first living beings in space(1957-61)

Biosphere will most likely “assume” that it itself is motionless and everything else outside of it is moving around. In a way, at its earlier stages, the Biosphere will resemble bacteria, mainly preoccupied with the internal processes/ metabolism, while the outer space will be relevant primarily as a source of energy. While we could imagine what could be the Biosphere’s visual receptors, it will be much more complicating and uncertain to anticipate what might emerge as its “visual cortex”, would it be one or several of them. Formation of such structure(s) would require a network of connections between the brains of its constitutive parts, primarily Humans that would together form some kind of Bio General Intelligence(BGI). But, trying to imagine this would be in a way similar to a single protein produced by a ribosome, at one of the neuron synapses, trying to understand the entire brain and how it perceives the world. If we now add to this all possible consequences for life on Earth as anticipated by the recent developments of the gene- editing technology, the entire picture of the Biosphere’s future becomes even more complicated and unpredictable.

Fig.36 Eye evolution

Binarity

It seems what all these three stages of the evolution of life, as three observers, have in common is binary perception of the world: hot-cold(light-dark). Appearance of this property was probably one of the key stages in the emergence of life from nonliving matter. Throughout the evolution it remained (as) one of its fundamental property, acquiring additional meanings especially in case of Human society with its cultural binary connotations and constructs(up-down, short-tall, black-white, rich-poor, slave-free, life-death, god-devil,us-them, friend-enemy, good-bad, civilized-primitive,…).

Fig.37 Dark/light pictures – low entropy
Fig.38 Dark/light pictures – high entropy

Oppositions hot-cold, dark-light, black-white, positive-negative are symmetrical and reversible, while oppositions order-chaos, time-eternity, space-infinity, life-death, remember-forget, change-no change, are not symmetrical. From the position of life we could see death, but from death we could not see life. Same is with time and eternity: from within time we could see eternity, but from eternity we could not see time. In a way, order is meta-chaos, time is meta-eternity, space is meta-infinity and life is meta-death, change is meta – no change. These “meta” categories: time, space, order, life, change are properties of the observer, including the notion of memory as well. Observer is meta-observed. Both the observer and the observed are finite and changeable.

Fig.39 Chess game

Fig.40 K. Malevich – The Black Square 1915
Fig.41 Good and Evil
Fig.42 America and Amerigo
Fig.43 Black and white
Fig.44 Life and death

Observer has to be „alive“, changeable (memory) and spatially limited and of temporary duration. Thus eternity/infinity/entropy are properties of nonliving; while time/space/order are properties of living matter. From the position of eternity there is no difference between one second and one billion years. In the eternity there is no motion, no change, no time, and no observer.  Thus, transition from non-living to living matter is at the same time transition from eternity to time, or infinity to space, no-change to change, or chaos to order.

On the other hand, perhaps there is no such thing as infinity/eternity. It is just a notion/concept of a (living) observer that could not be experienced directly. An observer could not observe the very end of its own existence, thus it cannot experience eternity. It can only observe the end of the existence of another observer, a moment when another observer is turning from living into non-living matter. Thus from the nonliving came living mater, then from the living matter came living intelligence and, as it seems, from living is now emerging nonliving intelligence. The question is if this nonliving intelligence will ever become a conscious observer, not to mention self-observer.

Observing the observer

Fig.45 Observing observers

         

 Echo was a beautiful nymph, fond of talking, and would always have the last word. Once she angered goddess Juno with this habit and was punished so that she could never be able to speak up her mind. She was allowed only to repeat the words spoken to her. One day Echo met Narcissus, a beautiful youth madly in love with his own image. She waited with impatience for him to speak first, and had her answer ready. But when he finally spoke to her, she could only repeat his words. Confused and angry Narcissus left, and she went to hide her blushes in the recesses of the nearby Mausoleum.  Soon after, to her surprise, she discovered that the walls of the Mausoleum were covered with thousands and thousands portraits of beautiful Narcissus. Hypnotized with the endless incarnations of the beloved face, from that time forth she lived inside the hallways of the cold edifice.  Her form faded with grief, till at last her flesh shrank away and there was nothing left but her voice. From the Tales of the Artisans

Every living being is an observer as well. To know about properties of the environment are necessary for its survival. Many of these are vital and embodied in the organism itself. What seems to be specific for the Human observer is not only invention and development of external instruments and techniques for observation, but also a self-observation as an expression of self-awareness expressed through numerous painted self-portraits in the past and selfies today.

Fig.47 Parmigianino and Cornelius -two selfies

While all living beings observe other living beings one way or another, self-portrait, as an expression seems to be characteristic for Humans. In fact, any mirror reflection with the awareness that the observer and the observed are the same is an expression of self-recognition. There are, of course, phenomena when someone could not recognize any face(face blindness), like well known cases of the neurologist Oliver Saks or artist Chuck Close. What would in that case be the meaning of a self-portrait made by a person who could not recognize its own face or, for that matter, a self-portrait made by a machine?

Fig.47 Chuck Close and machine made self-portrait

It is not easy to understand and interpret these two diagrams below in which both the observer and the observed are the same, where the unknown is not somewhere “out there” but within us as observers. Thus, as in some kind of Heisenbergian interpretation ,”I” as the observer and the observed is both at the same time, known and unknown. I am even not sure which of these two diagrams more accurately represent this self-reflective relationship, perhaps both of them, just from different perspectives.

Fig.48 Self-observed I

Fig.49 Self-observed II
Fig.50 Observing self-observer

Atoms of phosphorus or carbon or hydrogen are nonliving, but as parts of RNA within a cell they become alive. Below certain level of magnitude we are all made of nonliving matter. What makes a certain combination/configuration of these non-living elements to become alive?  There seems to be the limit in smallness below which there is no living matter, but is there a limit in the opposite direction? If a bacteria is a very small one cell organism, the entire Biosphere almost appears to be one gigantic cell with very complex structure and metabolism. Are there any limits in size and complexity for life? If life could spread to other planets through space travels, and humans colonize the Solar system, and then manage to move beyond, would all these then at some point become one living organism?

Fig.51 Planet Earth – two (self)portraits

It seems that transition from nonliving to living was not a single emerging event, but a series of them, from the earliest molecular configurations that had perhaps one or two life properties, that gradually moved to the next stage maintaining previous “knowledge” and acquiring some new properties, and so on, until reaches Humans with all its cognition properties and social structures. But it is the earliest period of life, the development of one cell organisms and their metabolism that lasted more than three billion (human) years. It seems after reaching certain level of complexity and functionality they do not change much, except from some “freak occurrence” that branches out bringing some new properties. As if current prokaryotic cells are living remains (fossils) of the previous life formations. We might find parallels even with various stages of social organizations among Humans existing in the contemporary world.

Fig.52 Worms

Also, if let say, prokaryote cells are early stage of the development of life and we still have them around as a contemporary living forms, why we do not have cases of early humans still wondering around today? Or, perhaps, prokaryote is still going through it internal evolution, and that contemporary case are very different from earlier ones. And what does it mean “living observer”? Is it only in biological RNA/DNA sense, or it could be some other kind of a “living form”?  What would be then AI as an observer, or can nonliving be an observer? Can nonliving be conscious and have its own will, to decide to turn on/off the light? And continue doing this just for the fun?

Fig.53 Kasparov vs. Deep Blue

Each individual organism exists in the present while all its previous stages since its birth (or inception) have disappeared. Each of the species today also exists only in the present while their previous stages could be found only as nonliving remains. However, the entire evolution, from one cell organisms to Humans exists in a living form today as some kind of living genealogical tree. We could see all the past stages of the present day Biosphere in a living form through all the species that constitute it, from simplest to most complex ones. But all the spices and the Biosphere as a whole are also changing all the time. As if the time-line of each organism and species is not of the same nature as the one which describes/follows the contemporary tracing of the evolution. For the first two-three billion years, the entire Biosphere consisted only of one cell organisms. Those were not only the early stages of development of individual living forms but also some kind of “prenatal” period of the Biosphere. All living organisms are born, then they live and grow, and at some point they get old and die. Will this happen to the Biosphere as well, or it will continue to be more and more complex and grow indefinitely far beyond the Earth?

Fig.54 Linneaus 1729

The themes like the climate change, pollution, global warming, and important concepts like Systema Naturae(C.Linneaus 1735), Bee-swarm/“many little lives” (T.de Bordeu’s 1764),Evolution(Lamarck 1800/Darwin 1859), Milieu intérieur (Bernard 1854)/ Homeostasis (W. Cannon 1926), Man and Nature/Anthropocene(G.Marsh1864) Ecology(E.Haeckel 1866), Genetics(G.Mendel 1866), Biocoenosis(K. Möbius1877),  Noosphere (de Chardin1922/ Le Roy-A.Vernadsky 1927), Gaia (J.E. Lovelock L.Margulis 1972/74),The Technium(K.Kelly 1992) are in last three centuries among the most important expressions of growing awareness in interconnectivity of all life on Earth and steps toward the idea that we are all part of a larger entity, a single living organism – I will continue to call it the Biosphere. However, they all(including this writing), one way or another, represent different ways of understanding and interpreting this enormous, and complex universe of life. In some way we are all like blind men in a story from ancient India describing an elephant by touching its different parts. Each of the description is accurate and at the same time different from each other. But, they all together give more complex and more detailed description of the elephant.

Fig.55 Blind men and elephant

It is not only that through Humans the Biosphere had a chance to see itself from a distance, but it is to Humans that it has a chance to move beyond the Earth and spread the life to other planets, saving it in case some catastrophe happens to this planet.

Fig.56 Lynn Margulis – lecture on Gaia
Fig.57 Biosphere 2 – Oracle, Arizona, 1987-91

Gregor Mobius April 30, 2021

Appendex 1

What is life?

-If we have a small bulb with two wires both contacted to a solar battery, and if one wire is touching the bulb and another not, there will be no light. Bulb will be “off”. However, if the second wire, by some random vibrations, begins touching the bulb too, it will start blinking. There will be light and the entire system will have flow of energy and exchange with the environment-metabolism. In both cases (off and on)all the elements were the same, but there was this miniscule change that was making all the difference. Interestingly, unlike in most emerging events, here we do not have accumulation of a large number of components that would produce a fundamental change; just a tiny, almost invisible contacts between the bulb and the wire. And it seems irrelevant if the wire was moving intentionally by a human or some other external cause, since in both cases it is not connected or disconnected by its own will.

Fig.58 Off-on light bulb

One way to explain the emergence of life could be some kind of a distinct property (“life”), a property that exist in nature that under certain conditions turns nonliving into living matter. Something similar the way atoms of two gasses H and O turn into water molecule H2O. Perhaps similarly nonliving particles, atoms and molecules, in a certain combination would acquire properties of a living matter. It is interesting that in case of water, it is a conversion of one kind of nonliving matter (gas) into another(liquid), although it is a question if on the atom level there is recognizable  distinction between these two aggregate states. Do single atoms of hydrogen and oxygen have gas properties and does a single water molecule H2O show(s) properties of water? It seems these are both cases of emerging phenomena where its smallest components do not have the same properties as a whole. We could not talk about entropy on the level of single atom or molecule, but we could in case of a room filled with air or water. Properties that are “gas” or “water” a are not of individual atoms, but of a large number of them. What is minimal number of hydrogen atoms and what density, that would show property of a gas, and what is minimal number (and density) of H2O molecules necessary to show liquid property of water? And then, how from one drop of water we come to another water based entity, but with some new properties, like tsunami. Or in case of gas, from an air breathe to a hurricane. And how all this relates the stochastic movements of molecules in a state of entropy, or even directional movements in the process before reaching the state of entropy. Here also the question is: how molecules “know” in which direction to go; some hot molecules to go toward cold side and some cold molecules toward hot side? Again, this is an emergence of one kind of state of nonliving mater from another state also of nonliving matter.

Fig.59 Radiolaria skeletons

What about of emergence of life, of living matter? It is also an emerging property of a large number of nonliving molecules (atoms), but in this case life has some qualitatively different properties from its nonliving components/parts (like initiative, can move against inertia, gravity, change direction of movement on its will, replication, memory…). These are kinds of properties that living matter has, which nonliving doesn’t have. Is there a single property that could be identified, one that represents a tipping point between nonliving and living states of the same molecule(s)? And what is the minimum number of molecules/atoms necessary for the emerging event to begin to take place? Is this transition perhaps gradual, so it takes place in several steps? In that case, what would be its duration, the time interval between beginning and end of transition process from nonliving to living? Also, is there an energy threshold for the process to begin? It seems as if all this would not be sufficient to explain the emergence of life from nonliving matter -acquiring properties of self-preserving and actively maintaining its own structural and functional integrity within a changing environment, energy exchange with environment/metabolism and self-replication.

Fig. 60 Nile 1860

Fig.61 Not A Cornfield Metabolic Studio LA 2005

Perhaps, after all, it might be necessary to introduce an unknown property, some kind of agency, “life force”, in a way analogue to gravitational or electro-magnetic force. This is, of course, an old idea (Vitalism) and if considered, it would most likely have to get some additional meanings. One of the main questions would be how it appears and disappears? Is it transmitted through space and what would, in that case, be its manifestations (particles, waves, or both…)? Or we will need to add to science of physics a completely new kind of phenomena and their manifestations, or even reconsider the meaning of very notion of science?

Appendix 2

Self-observation of the Biosphere through its Human constituents.

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