Patterns. Scarily visible…

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How do the large-scale patterns we observe in evolution arise? A paper in the journal Evolution argues that many of them are a type of statistical bias caused by our unavoidably recent viewpoint looking back into the past.

For example, the animals appear in the fossil record about 550 million years ago, in an enormous burst of diversification called the “Cambrian Explosion.” Many groups of organisms appear to originate like this, but later on in their evolutionary history, their rates of diversification and morphological change seem to slow down. Graham Budd and Richard Mann make the provocative argument that patterns like this may be largely illusory.

Biologists and palaeontologists use statistical models called “birth-death models” to model how random events of speciation and extinction give rise to patterns of diversity. Just as one can roll a dice five times and get five sixes or none, the outcomes of these random models are very variable. These statistical fluctuations are particularly important at the origin of a group, when there are only a few species. It turns out that the only groups that survive this early period are those that happen to diversify quickly – all the others go extinct. As is it exactly those groups that go on to be the large successful groups we see living today, and that fill most of the fossil record, it follows that they are likely to show this rapid pattern of diversification at their origin – but only because they are a biased subset of all groups. Later in their history, when such groups are diverse, statistical fluctuations have much less effect, and therefore their rate of evolution appears to slow down to the background average.

As a result, the patterns we discover by analyzing such groups are not general features of evolution as a whole, but rather represent a remarkable bias that emerges by only studying groups we already know were successful. (1)

Standing still.

A raging bull coming towards you.

Life and death.

So seemingly similar.

Blood dripping on the ground.

The bull is gone now.

Lying down.

A cold breeze.

Small butterfly.

Worm crawling on the ground.

Close your eyes.

Looking at the clouds.

Those patterns…

So scarily visible…

Water. Dancing…

Photo by Jose Aragones from Pexels

Liquid water is part of our everyday lives and due to its lack of color, taste and smell, it is often assumed to be very simple. On a molecular level the water molecule is indeed very simple, However, when many molecules come together they form a highly complex network of hydrogen bonds. Typically, we consider that water molecules in the liquid state move randomly on ultrafast timescales due to thermal fluctuations. Now, scientists at Stockholm University have discovered correlated motion in water dynamics on a sub-100 femtoseconds timescale.

On this timescale, it was assumed that water molecules move randomly due to heat, behaving more like a gas than a liquid. However, the experiments (verified by computer simulations as well) indicate that the network plays a role even on this ultrafast timescale, making water molecules coordinate in an intricate dance, which becomes even more pronounced in the so called supercooled state. (1)

Two people dancing. What a nice site.

Another man is passing by.

Another one sleeping by the tree.

A woman on the other side of the planet falls.

A kid is running to catch the bus.

A party raging.

A city sleeping.

While a small pigeon tries to fly.

Unrelated moves. What a nice site…

[Written on 2019-04-06]

Causality debunked.

Photo by Eneida Nieves from Pexels

Researchers at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences develop a new theoretical framework to describe how causal structures in quantum mechanics transform. They analyze under which conditions quantum mechanics allows the causal structure of the world to become “fuzzy.” In this case, a fixed order of events is not possible. The results were published in the journal Physical Review X.

The idea that events occur one after the other in a fixed causal order is part of our intuitive picture of the physical world. Imagine that Alice can send a message to Bob via a wire that connects them. Alice decides to have a barbecue and can invite Bob via the wire connection. If he gets invited, Bob decides to prepare some Ćevapčići to bring along. This is an example where the event in which Alice decides to invite Bob to the barbecue influences the event in which Bob decides to prepare food. Such an order of events characterizes a definite causal structure. However, research in the foundations of quantum mechanics suggests that, at the quantum level, causal structures may be “indefinite”. In an indefinite causal structure there might not be a fixed order in which events happen, i.e. whether Alice influences Bob or Bob influences Alice might not be defined.

“Our results demonstrate that under physically reasonable assumptions of continuity and reversibility a world with definite causal order will never become a world with an indefinite causal order and vice versa”, says Esteban Castro, one of the authors of the paper. This insight may lead to a more complete understanding of what the role of causality is in the quantum world. (1)

In the beginning there was chaos.

And then the cosmos was born.

We like to look into patterns.

We like to indulge into our hallucinations.

But every night, when we fall asleep, we remember.

It is not the Sun we celebrate.

What exists cannot change.

We are not scientists.

We are poets.

Admiring the Moon…

Neurons, plants and the mystery of patterns…


Plants and brains are more alike than you might think. Salk scientists discovered that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout connections. In particular, plants use the same rules to grow under widely different conditions (for example, cloudy versus sunny) and the density of branches in space follows a Gaussian (‘bell curve’) distribution – which is also true of neuronal branches in the brain. The work, published in Current Biology on July 6, 2017, and based on data from 3D laser scanning of plants, suggests there may be universal rules of logic governing branching growth across many biological systems. (1)

Everything is similar to everything. Analogous structures are repeated over and over again in multiple dimensions and in various realms of reality. The existence of universal patterns is something known for a long time now. But we are still unable to grasp the implications of such a discovery. Does it signify that the whole reality we experience is just an illusion? That everything is essentially the same One thing which manifests itself into various forms? Or does it simply signify the existence of a kind of field which affects everything? Could it just be a coincidence or a result of our prejudiced perception? Could we just be looking at what we expect to see in a massive “we shape reality” illusion?

I confess that I am unable to reach to a solid conclusion.

Although my subconscious does hint towards a specific solution.

All great mysteries somehow shout their solution.

But you must stay still in order to listen.

See the colours of the butterflies. The shapes of mountains and the coastlines of your favorite island. Watch the sounds of crickets and stare the planets move in the silent sky. Take a hold of a shell. Smell a rose. Think and let your neurons fire, while watching the light coming out of distant stars.

There is something which pertains everything…

There is evident harmony in the cosmos.

There is music in the silence.

Watch out that bee!

There is magic in the cosmos.

Everything different and yet the same.

Because everything is the same and yet so different.

Watch that snake eating its tale. It is you. It is the cosmos. It is the island and the bee. It is the butterflies and the roses. It is the cricket on the tree…

The real meaning of Tao: Everything possible. Illogical. Thus true.


People see patterns and rules everywhere.

But these patterns and rules are elusive. A pattern could be there and you could “see” it, but if you interpret the data in a different way or if you examine the context of your observations, you could “know” that there is no pattern and you could stop “seeing” it.

In the same way, one could say something “mystical” and prove it to be “correct”, in some specific way under very specific circumstances.

In a way, everything goes. Perhaps that is the whole meaning of Tao itself…

If you think about it, Logic is a human construct. The cosmos we experience is a phenomenal world. Reality (if a universal reality exists – because many things imply that every person actually formulates his own reality – see quantum mechanics) is the common denominator of all the phenomena. And the only common denominator is Consciousness. Tao by definition is illogical in its sayings. And perhaps this is what it is trying to do: Guide us to the beginning, to what now seems “illogical”…

Clap with one hand.

You could do it.

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