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Tag Archives: emergence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have read many books that discuss various aspects of evolution but never a complete overview of the subject. While I understand how evolution works, and have no doubt about its veracity, I was not aware of the overwhelming supporting evidence for the theory from multiple different scientific disciplines: Paleontology, Biogeography, Embryology, Genetics, Comparative Anatomy etc. Mr Coyne relishes his task, clearly presenting the evidence fact by fact. Within the first 100 pages he presents a broad, and consistent body of evidence in which he weaves together facts from multiple fields. It was hugely entertaining reading an academic, at the top of his game, build such an impressive case. The evidence is undeniable and overwhelming. Evolution is true!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have been interested in the work of Stuart Kauffman since I first read about him 10 years ago. I have read his other book “At Home in the Universe” and so wanted to read this one. I find Kauffman very difficult to read, but worth the effort. This time I took notes as I was reading, which helped a great deal. Part of the reason I find him so interesting is that his books are, for me, a view into a mind on the edge of discovering something significant. I’m not sure Kauffman will actually discover whatever it is he is closing in on, but he’s barking up the right tree and its fascinating to watch him wrestle with his problems.
As I was researching the invention of the computer I found a few sites that while only tangentially related to the subject at hand were definitely worthy of note.
Cooperation in Balinese Rice Farming by J. Stephen Lansing and John H. Miller
This great article explains in clear terms how Balinese rice farmers acting in self interest and following a few simple rules have caused the emergency of a large scale system that tends to maximize rice yields given the prevailing constraints.
For centuries Balinese rice farmers have engaged in cooperative agricultural practices. Without centralized control, farmers have created a carefully coordinated system that allows productive farming in an ecosystem that is rife with water scarcity and the threat of disease and pests.
It seems to me that P2P computing networks are in some ways analogus to the rice famers networks of fields and irrigation channels. Yet they have so far failed to produce any large scale emergent features, unless you count the destruction of the music industry as an emergent feature! The current crop of P2P systems seem to lack the simple rules that lead to emergent properties. I suspect it will not be too long before we see P2P systems that feature these simple rules and produce large scale emergent features.
This diagram shows a food web, The nodes are species and the lines show predator-prey relationships between the species. Species at higher trophic levels eat those lower down in the web. This particular food web is for Little Rock Lake in Wisconsin and was produced by Neo D. Martinez of San Francisco State University, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies.