Saturday, 9 August 2008

Life? Is that a glimpse of what we experience as life?

I read in John H. Holland's "Emergence" book, page 140

"First of all, the glider is not a fixed set of particles bound together and moving on a trajectory through the space."

in describing Conway's simple cellular automaton, the glider being a simple, mobile, self-perpetuating pattern, contained in the automaton exhibiting emergence. But

"Rather, particles are continually being created and deleted to produce the glider."

A thought, driven by the self-similarity property inherent in chaotic systems, urged me to apply the behavioural pattern of a glider to much wider systems. All living systems, be that plants animals human individuals included; all being structures made up of elementary particles constantly recycled. Self-perpetuating patterns contained within nature itself, continually being created and deleted. Birth and demise. Life-cycles? Characteristic of all living systems.

But within each species life cycle, the individual of a species acts and behaves as a fixed set of particles bound together and moving on a trajectory through space. All that despite being constantly recycled in underlying processes that are largely unaware by the individual.

Is that what we experience as life? Our experiences built by our existence as a fixed set of particles bound together? Our movement, in trajectories governed by the laws of nature or physics, through space? Confined space, by the very laws that define our trajectories? Literally, a cage?

How do we go beyond the confined space prescribed by the laws of physics? How do we exceed the limitations imposed upon us? What does that mean in the experiences we accumulate through life?

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