I had pointed my friend Steve Kurtz to my physics theorem, the Law of Continuity, showing why the conservation of energy implies physical systems need a “little push” from other events on a smaller scales of organization to begin or end. His good question gave me an opportunity to explain that, and a bit more of what the theorem is really about. He replied “Excellent explanation. Thanks”
His first comment was:
“I’m not up on the math. But a seed contains stored, embodied solar sourced energy. So I don’t see any mystery there. The mystery (to me) is the life propulsion…the apparent will to live and expand niches, and replicate.
Well, yes, a seed relies on a source of “fossil fuel”, like an infant relies on its mother as a source of food until born and fire relies on a spark and a computer needs someone to turn it on… etc. Self-animation requires initiation, a little push. What the math in that theorem shows is that the math describing any system event has to be missing that little push from the beginning and end of the description. It’s something like Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. For physical processes to begin or end takes behaviors beyond the scale of representation of the system.
The hard part for people to understand seems to be that if small events are needed to initiate large ones, a “butterfly effect” of some kind, there must be something quite special about the environment in which long chains of larger events begin with one flutter of a butterfly wing. Any other flutter seems to have quickly dissipating and not amplifying effects. The environment needs to be “ready”, “primed” or “crossing a threshold” for a small coincident initiating event to do its work. It’s two conditions at the same time at different scales of organization, a dyad of cooperating large and small scale organizations that does it. I learn about them by watching them.
It’s one of the ways nature needs to work with independent parts rather than with set relationships. Explanations generally rely on set interrelationships and can’t have independent parts is one problem. I think that could be the main reason we can’t rationalize complex systems, that natural physical systems, by needing to have independent parts, violate our explanatory method…
So I use a coping strategy, studying the explanations that are necessarily temporary (growth and decay). Those necessarily lead to “questions” that allow and require departing from what is explained to search around beyond it for new connections. That seems to be somewhat like how natural systems manage to make connections between independent scales and systems too. It also frees you of some subjectivity to come to an end of what can be explained, and then need to begin a new search and rethink what you’re looking for.