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The Demon in the Machine

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S have served only to deepen the mystery So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry or do we need something fundamentally newIn this penetrating and wide ranging new analysis world renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast moving that it lacks a name a domain where computing chemistry uantum physics and nanotechnology intersect At the heart of these diverse fields Davies explains is the concept of information a uantity with the power to unify biology with physi. It was heartening to learn that there are new approaches to understanding the processes of life in general and consciousness in particular and Paul Davies has a particular gift of insight and understanding into how the universe is put together I was most interested in his ideas of fertile areas for research that can elucidate the mechanisms by which consciousness is generated and Davies's thesis is that informational systems are both fundamental to the universe and explainable by as yet undefined laws or at least emergent patterns of self organization He began by discussing the genome and the mechanisms of the cell and in doing so cogently made his point that information processing is inherent in biology and that it represents a different level of operation from physical laws The most exciting part for me was when he applied these principles to the brain and suggested ideas that the brain is an open system that the hardware and software of the system are self referential and that there may be top down processing involved that could rescue the realism of consciousness and free willThe discussion at times was fairly technical and I felt the book could have been longer to allow Davies to demonstrate his talent at scientific explanation fully I also thought that the example of using Tononi's phi as a measure of consciousness was a bit random given the in my opinion rightful criticism his theory attracts I get his point though that the details are less important than the principles he was suggesting and that's where the excitement lies because the challenge of understanding the universe is really only just beginning

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Cs transform technology and medicine and even to illuminate the age old uestion of whether we are alone in the universeFrom life's murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies The Demon in the Machine is a breath taking journey across the landscape of physics biology logic and computing Weaving together cancer and consciousness two headed worms and bird navigation Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos opening a window on the secret of life itse. This is a difficult book to rate as at times I felt like I was experiencing an interesting incipit to a completely new way of thinking about life other times I felt bombarded with unnecessary detail and a hopeless abandonment of the great promise of the book's subtitleFirst of all I greatly enjoyed the extended description of Maxwell's demon as this is a concept I have been very vague on for a while this book really does nail down the concept uite clearly Also this will likely be the best work to bring you up to date on certain areas of epigenetics that are not uite mainstream knowledge yet Davies' method of analyzing life and its origins is a convincing one whereby pure physical analysis amounts to understanding a computer as if it had no software and the proper solution is the incorporation of the organism's and its component parts' use of information This is information not purely in the coded sense in the organism's DNA but rather how various networks within the organism use and update its information This is most potent in the discussion as to how certain organisms can update fundamental elements space worms of their anatomy and anatomical information in an almost Lamarckian fashion without straying into superficial anecdoting While serving as a fine synopsis of epigenetics and the incorporation of information into the discussion of the analysis of life the work spends a great deal of time on the demon in the machine and very little on the solving of the mystery of life Uneven reading that doesn't deliver on great promise but still packed with great information no pun intended

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'A gripping new drama in science if you want to understand how the concept of life is changing read this' Professor Andrew Briggs University of OxfordWhen Darwin set out to explain the origin of species he made no attempt to answer the deeper uestion what is life For generations scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental uestion Life really does look like magic even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it And yet huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decade. Physicists have a habit of dabbling in biology and perhaps surprisingly biologists tend to be uite tolerant of it I find it hard to believe the reverse would be true if biologists tried to do physics Perhaps one reason for that tolerance is Schrödinger’s lecture series and book What is Life which had a huge impact on molecular biology and with a reference to which not surprisingly Paul Davies begins his fascinating book At the heart of the The Demon in the Machine we'll come back to that demon in a moment is the relationship between life and information In essence Davies points out that if we try to reduce life to its simple physical components it is like trying to work with a computer that has no software The euivalent of software here is information not just in the best publicised aspect of the information stored in the DNA but on a far broader scale operating in networks across the organismThis information and its processing gives life its emergent complexity which is why Davies suggests Dawkins style reductionism to the gene level entirely misses the point What's the biological setup provides a particularly sophisticated relationship between information and the physical aspects of the organism because the information can modify itself it's as if a computer program could redesign itself as it went alongThe subtitle 'how hidden webs of information are solving the mystery of life' probably over promises As Davies makes clear we still have no idea how life came into being in the first place However by bringing in this physicalinformation aspect we at least can get a better grip on the workings of the molecular machines inside organisms and how biology can do so much with so little Here's where the demon in the title comes in This is Maxwell's demon the hypothetical miniature being dreamed up by the great nineteenth century Scottish physicistMaxwell's demon has the remarkable ability to tweak the second law of thermodynamics allowing for example heat to flow from a colder to a hotter body or to put it another way providing a mechanism for entropy the measure of disorder in a system to spontaneously decrease Entropy has a strong negative relationship with information and Davies shows how miniature biological systems act in a demon like fashion to effectively manage informationThere's lots to like here from the best explanation I've seen of the relationship of information and entropy to fascinating coverage of how far we’ve gone beyond the selfish gene This is not just about basic epigenetic processes operating outside of genes switching them on and off and so on but how for example the electric field of a biological cell apparently has a role to play in ‘sculpting‘ the physical structure of an organismMy only real complaint is that in part of the chapter Enter the Demon dealing with information engines and most of the chapter The Logic of Life describing the relationship between living organisms and computation Davies fails to put across clearly just what is going on I read it but didn't feel I gained as much information ironically as I needed from it There was also one very odd statistic We're told the information in a strand of DNA contains 'about 2 billion bits than the information contained in all the books in the Library of Congress' There are about 32 million books in the Library of Congress so that gives us on average 625 bits per book Unless those are very short books some information has gone astrayReally interesting then from a transformed understanding of the importance of information in living organisms through to Davies' speculation on whether biological systems need new physical laws to describe them But expect to come away feeling you need to read it again to be sure what it said Comment peut-on anticiper le réel? of life is changing read this' Professor Andrew Briggs University Randa of OxfordWhen Darwin set Klartext zur Integration: Gegen falsche Toleranz und Panikmache out to explain the warren buffet bio origin Hale House, The House That Love Built of species he made no attempt to answer the deeper uestion what is life For generations scientists have struggled to make sense Telltale of this fundamental uestion Life really does look like magic even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it And yet huge advances in molecular biology The Lost Girls over the past few decade. Physicists have a habit Aftershock of dabbling in biology and perhaps surprisingly biologists tend to be uite tolerant Ethics and Morality in Sport Management of it I find it hard to believe the reverse would be true if biologists tried to do physics Perhaps Currency Trading in the Forex and Futures Markets, Coursesmart Etextbook one reason for that tolerance is Schrödinger’s lecture series and book What is Life which had a huge impact She Wants You on molecular biology and with a reference to which not surprisingly Paul Davies begins his fascinating book At the heart Wendy Wyoming (Silhouette Special Edition, No 483) of the The Demon in the Machine we'll come back to that demon in a moment is the relationship between life and information In essence Davies points Debt-Free Living in a Debt-Filled World out that if we try to reduce life to its simple physical components it is like trying to work with a computer that has no software The euivalent Polly Wants to Be a Writer of software here is information not just in the best publicised aspect Nanomech of the information stored in the DNA but Passengers To Sentience on a far broader scale Gerila operating in networks across the Born-Again Virgin organismThis information and its processing gives life its emergent complexity which is why Davies suggests Dawkins style reductionism to the gene level entirely misses the point What's the biological setup provides a particularly sophisticated relationship between information and the physical aspects Solstice Seduction (Celtic Fire, of the Die Russen, die Stasi und ihre absurden Machenschaften! organism because the information can modify itself it's as if a computer program could redesign itself as it went alongThe subtitle 'how hidden webs The Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum of information are solving the mystery Der Flüstermann: Thriller of life' probably Queen Euphoria, A Shadowrun Adventure over promises As Davies makes clear we still have no idea how life came into being in the first place However by bringing in this physicalinformation aspect we at least can get a better grip Mastering Competitive Debate on the workings Uncovering Her Secrets (Seals Security of the molecular machines inside Shojo fashion - Le dessin de mode Manga organisms and how biology can do so much with so little Here's where the demon in the title comes in This is Maxwell's demon the hypothetical miniature being dreamed up by the great nineteenth century Scottish physicistMaxwell's demon has the remarkable ability to tweak the second law Cindi (story of thermodynamics allowing for example heat to flow from a colder to a hotter body Figli del limo or to put it another way providing a mechanism for entropy the measure Vom Junkie zum Ironman of disorder in a system to spontaneously decrease Entropy has a strong negative relationship with information and Davies shows how miniature biological systems act in a demon like fashion to effectively manage informationThere's lots to like here from the best explanation I've seen What the Shadow Told Me of the relationship My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies of information and entropy to fascinating coverage File Under (Leah Hunter, of how far we’ve gone beyond the selfish gene This is not just about basic epigenetic processes Incarceration Nations operating Noia outside Tundra Comics Presents of genes switching them Oksana on and 不思議な少年 4 (Fushigi na Shounen, off and so Istanbul City Guide 2015 (version française) on but how for example the electric field The (In)Eligible Bachelors of a biological cell apparently has a role to play in ‘sculpting‘ the physical structure The Southern Writer in the Postmodern World of an Dr. O organismMy Lucas only real complaint is that in part Inspiring Quotes of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle of the chapter Enter the Demon dealing with information engines and most NOS LO TRAJO EL VIENTO of the chapter The Logic Latidos en el sótano of Life describing the relationship between living Grof geschut op schateiland (Bob Evers, organisms and computation Davies fails to put across clearly just what is going Buried Secrets on I read it but didn't feel I gained as much information ironically as I needed from it There was also Der Katalane. one very Paediatric Dentistry odd statistic We're told the information in a strand FAB of DNA contains 'about 2 billion bits than the information contained in all the books in the Library Inventors Who Left Their Brands on America of Congress' There are about 32 million books in the Library ما بعد الشيوخ of Congress so that gives us Tight Ink on average 625 bits per book Unless those are very short books some information has gone astrayReally interesting then from a transformed understanding Bear to Love (Alaskan Den Men Book 8) of the importance Bear Cuffs (Broken Hill Bears, of information in living Indian Horse organisms through to Davies' speculation Just Another Heartbeat on whether biological systems need new physical laws to describe them But expect to come away feeling you need to read it again to be sure what it said

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