Trying to Answer Six Questions on Values:
1. Why do we want what we want?
2. Can we change or control what we want?
3. Why should we conserve habitat and species?
4. To what can I attribute the incidental positive effects of solitary and group distance walks in unbuilt surroundings?
5. Why can´t I search the internet to check local prices of items in neighborhood shops?
6. Why, fundamentally, from first principles, does life need to eat food? What is food and what is energy? Displacement from what? Resisting restoration of what?
6. In a universe of matter and energy, what do the words ¨I Love You¨ mean? The self, the other, and love? Is this capacity, this possibility the point of the restorative engine of nature that incidentally creates diversity and love from sameness?
7. Who is the real you of Sonnet #1? Lineage. The History of the Future. The statue grows as the marble wastes.
8. Can the world be known? Or is it unfolding from history, event by event, registered in expanding spacetime?
8. Outline of Beginning Thoughts (Model of the World, in context of incomplete information)
Does getting what we want make us happy? (Is desire a reliable guide to happiness? Is pleasure happiness? Is happiness something that endures?) Is happiness a repurposing of evolutionary animal reward circuitry that expresses in consumption, mating, flourishing of offspring, and social hierarchy? Or is happiness something more or different? Is it the pursuit or anticipation?
How do we ¨know¨ what to want? The amplitude of desire and finitude of life. Life as a possibility of matter.
Life is a liar. Physics tells the truth. Life is a liar. Spirit tells the truth. Emergent spacetime as crossing paths, crossing worldlines.
Trying to figure out nature, life, the marketplace to be better at all of them. I view them as exchange between ¨changeable bodies¨ carrying messages (¨values¨), that are recognizable as meaning by other changeable bodies. From charges to shapes to stories, bodies carry messages that are recognizable by other bodies. The environment in which changeable bodies move is composed of changeable bodies.
¨... the quantities of heat which must be imparted to, or withdrawn from a changeable body are not the same, when these changes occur in a non-reversible manner, as they are when the same changes occur reversibly. In the second place, with each non-reversible change is associated an uncompensated transformation ....¨
Rudolf Clausius, The Mechanical Theory of Heat
¨From these facts we may even now draw the conclusion that the domain of the validity of the principle of least action has reached far beyond the boundaries of the mechanics of ponderable bodies. Maupertuis´ high hopes for the absolute general validity of his principle appear to be approaching their fulfillment, however slender the mechanical proofs and however contradictory the metaphysical speculations which the author himself could at the time adduce in support of his new principle. Even at this stage, it can be considered as highly probable that it is the universal law pertaining to all processes in nature .... In any case, the general validity of the principle of least action seems to me assured....¨
Hermann von Helmholtz, from 1887 paper On the Physical Significance of the Principle of Least Action, translated from the original German in Variational Principles in Dynamics and Quantum Theory by Wolfgang Yourgrau and Stanley Mendelstam, 1979
Changeable bodies. Spontaneous. Transformation. Open systems. Surroundings.
See the question I have italicized. Is the answer I have italicized uncontested? Is the cause of spontaneous folding to 3-dimensional shape uncontestedly electromagnetic? Or some other expression of Least Action that makes life different from the familiar Second Law Thermodyamic Entropy Gradient-Destroying arguments? I stick with the argument of extreme efficiency, unmatched efficiency that can become instrumental.
Example 5: Protein folding
Polypeptide chains fold spontaneously into defined patterns to make functional proteins. This process involves the polypeptide chain going from a disordered, random structure to a highly ordered one. How is this not a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
The ordering of the protein from a free-swinging peptide chain involves a variety of physical forces, some that favor the unfolded peptide chain, and some that favor the neatly folded protein. When assessing entropic contributions to Gibbs Free Energy for the purpose of determining spontaneity, you must not look only at the system, but also at the surroundings. It is true that the entropy of the protein decreases when it is folded because the chain is arranged in a more orderly fashion. However, there are other entropic considerations in the surroundings of the protein. In an unfolded protein, all of the hydrophobic portions of the polypeptide are exposed to the aqueous environment, and the water molecules order themselves around the hydrophobic residues in ordered structures called hydration spheres. As a protein is folded, these hydrophobic residues initially exposed to the aqueous environment are buried in the interior of the protein, hidden away from contact with water molecules, and the entropy of the water molecules increases as the need for hydration spheres diminishes, in effect overcoming the entropy decrease for the protein alone. In other words, while the entropy of the system (the protein) decreases, the entropy of the surroundings increases to a greater degree, leading to an overall increase in entropy for the universe.
The folding of a protein also provides an example of the "DH" and "–TDS" terms competing with one another to determine the DG of the folding process. As described above, the change in entropy of the protein as it folds is negative, so the "–TDS" term is positive. However, in addition to entropic effects there are enthalpic contributions to protein folding. These include hydrogen bonding, ionic salt bridges, and Van der Waals forces. An input of thermal (heat) energy is required to disrupt these forces, and conversely when these interactions form during protein folding they release heat (the DH is negative). When all of these entropic and enthalpic contributions are weighed, the enthalpy term wins out over the entropy term. Therefore the free energy of protein folding is negative, and protein folding is a spontaneous process.
Pennybun is about the most fundamental property of nature -- exchange and transfer between bodies with given values. Knowing the outcomes of these exchanges in their ever-increasing combinatorial complexity is the secret to predicting -- and sometimes governing -- nature at all levels.
Alchemists sought to exchange bodies to transform base metal into gold. The laws of nature are the greatest alchemists of all. Working just with the given values of their materials and their given laws, they created something far more wondrous than gold from base metal. They created a living body who would place a higher value on gold than base metal, who would convert both metals into tools, jewels, and currency.
What was the magic ingredient that allowed the alchemy of life to begin? I believe it was a flow of potential, a flow of displacement from equilibrium, a flow of sunlight received by some configuration under certain conditions that CAUSED the configuration to spontaneously contract rather than disperse. Sustaining that flow of potential has been the work of life.
Who would ever believe such a fantastically IMPROBABLE story as the CAUSE of life? I have a really, really good reason, and it is most improbable, and it is that very improbability that we sustain every time we eat and breathe.
It is that very improbability that we risk by taking our most improbable, unlikely lives for granted, or taking them for ourselves alone without thought for those who brought us here and those who we carry forward. We are part of something wondrously whole and yet miraculously diverse, individual, unique, particular in a system that statistically tends toward the sameness of equilibrium. With the laws of nature, it was always possible we could be here. From the beginning of time, earth was possible. From the beginning of time, each day of our lives, each improbable moment was possible.
We are the carriers for the future. We have been handed the lit candle, the flame that was struck once and has improbably, stubbornly never gone out, transferring living flame to inanimate matter for 3.5 billion years. We carry the flame and its code for how to organize twenty bodies with specific values into a limited number of configurations that sustain our living bodies, that make inanimate base matter into -- not gold -- but flesh and blood.
And bread and breath and water are the components of the alchemical exchanges within our bodies that recognize each other, that know what to do to transfer and transform matter to life. They -- and the systems that deliver them to us -- are essential to our own improbable existence, and to the continued existence of future life.
There is no good reason for life to be improbable now, relative to the hardships those that made it and sent us through endured. Our squabbles and miseries must strike them as ridiculous.
mazing than transform dull metal to shiny metal. It transformed potential from the sun and water and a few bits of star-created elements and the laws of nature into a wondrously persistent ever-diversifying body of miracles.
that includes every leaf of grass, newborn baby, ocean-floating plankton, evening primrose,
These values of bodies may be given, assigned, received, discovered, invented, fixed, temporary known, unknown, private, public, shared, personal, objective, subjective, microscopic, macroscopic, outside the body, inside the body -- but all are ¨messages¨ carried in the world.
Sometimes bodies with messages have receivers in exchanges. Each receiver either recognizes or does not recognize the value of another body, and translates the message based on its values.
The cause and effect of exchange is
This fundamental exchange is expressed in the phrase ¨There is no not communicating." It is also expressed in the relationship between living identity and food, and in markets that have evolved and emerged from trading food and other goods that secure the body and its extensions.
Food and home are signifiers of certainty.
Particles, atoms, elements, molecules, amino acids, proteins, cells make up living bodies of various sizes all in continuous, necessary exchange with their surroundings. Life has learned the path from ¨non-living¨ bodies of matter to living bodies by controlling motion of bodies that recognize each other. This is what food and oxygen are.
Our relationship with food and modern methods of exchange and transfer are expressions of the universal truth that ¨There is no not communicating.¨ Conscious and unconscious, we are always communicating with and translating the world. We often call this ¨consumption,¨ but there is really only transfer and exchange between and among bodies at various distances.
The modern exchange is among bodies and collections of bodies that include marketplace, home, families, communities, the internet, our phone, our neighborhoods, strangers, traffic, clothing, holidays, dinner, wrapped gifts, smiles, walking, eating, thinking, reading -- every exchange between our own bodies with the surroundings, and most importantly -- our own minds in exchange with the physical responses our bodies have to their exchanges with the world.
This is the central focus of pennybun: our bodies translate the world with our senses and inherited and acquired learning, our brains and bodies exchange the translated information from the world into a physical response. There is a feeling translation of the physical state of the body.
The degree of give in the given properties of nature, in the universal exchange&transfer in which we participate answers the Ferris Bueller question of why we should care about how nature works.
Continuous exchange with the surroundings is the price of identity in nature. Food and oxygen are the origins of our uniqueness, our individuality, our discernability from the world. Food is a special exchange between living bodies and the world. Everything we eat and most of what we use to move our world originated with a living body. We cannot directly access the sun´s power like plants, nor can we eat wind or falling water. Oxygen is the key ingredient to everything we eat because oxygen helps organize proteins and oxygen gives the electrons from our food a place to rest, a temporary home on some journey home again.
The world is an exchange of which we are part forever, as constituents and history that causes the future. Whatever distant origins our universe may have are our origins as well, but we each direct the path home again with our own individual journeys and paths. Whatever follows us will be created by our exchanges.
I reject the block universe view of nature and believe the past falls away into the physical now with every physical exchange that comes into being in the physical world. The future is not physical in the pennybun model. It is a set of possibilities constrained by the laws of nature law, the values of bodies, and their history of exchange. We are continuous participants in this exchange.
Exchange is fundamental to the physical universe. ¨Work"-- every job we are paid to do -- is ultimately directing the motion of the world in a way nature would not likely spontaneously do on its own, even in the presence of energy.
Controlling the exchanges of nature is always some version of communication, persuasion, force, messaging, signaling, recognition. This is what food is -- a directed use of potential that nature is likely to spontaneously sequester into bonds or dissipate.
What is it that life does and needs that nature would not likely spontaneously do on its own? Without continuous input of *energy*, nature will probabilistically dissipate itself, increasing distance between bodies and number and intensity of exchanges between bodies. It is likely bodies will expand into space, beyond the reach of known physical exchange.
Sometimes, light will bind bodies as an effect of recognizing a vacant home to rest in, or being recognized by a body seeking a more or less stable home situation for itself. These complex exchanges are what food and biochemistry and biology and proteins and DNA parasitize, scavenge, and harness to sustain life. Intelligent, conscious humanity has further harnessed these exchanges in an analog of harnessing beasts of burden -- by directing their motion and what they carry across space and time. Beasts of burden are light-bound bodies harnessed and directed as exchange carriers with packs that are unpacked at another end of the journey. Light itself has become humanity´s modern exchange carrier -- its properties are assigned burdens, cargo of representation. Photon and electron become assigned messages unpacked at another end of the journey, over space and time.
Even with the presence of energy, the exchanges must be directed to reproduce and sustain light-bound bodies
The given properties of exchange can be harnessed into representing human messages to propogate exchanges across space and time, even into the future. This is so of waves and bodies. These messages are assigned to the given messages of nature, and they are translated by each of us, but not in the automatic way a tree turns to light. The tree´s automatic translation of light in its body is an inherited wisdom, an inherited code for its world exchange. It is mediated by bodies within its body, in response to light, water, other life. The plant can read and translate the sunlight but not a dictionary of words.
These exchanges manifest the realized world from all the possible histories of the future world. I believe in an emergent future caused and constrained and made real by past exchanges. All bodies carry value -- some message that may be recognized and translated to meaning and understanding by another body. Some values are objective physical properties carried by the body -- charge, position, momentum. Some values are subjective readings and translations and approximations of what cannot be directly observed in a whole of many parts.
Living bodies are made of and sustained by continuous exchanges among non-living matter bodies within them. The non-living bodies carry given values and changing spatial locations that are recognized in their exchange spaces (cells, bloodstream, nervous system). Bread and breath and water become alive. Life knows the language of nature.
This Living Body is sustained ONLY by continuousness with its surroundings. The bodies within a Living Body require continuous inputs from the surroundings. Bread doesn´t work to keep us alive without a continuous supply of oxygen. Oxygen is how food works for us. Carbon dioxide is how food works for plants. These chemicals provide a home for a wandering electron.
When an electron finds a place to rest, a home, it does what we all do when we are safe at home: it releases unwanted energy. Life says to the electron: if you´re not going to use that leftover light, I´ll have it. I have some protons I need to move uphill over here. The electron says: go ahead and have it. I don´t want it. I just want to stay home and rest. I just want to be left alone, and not have to deal with the rest of the world. Depending on what kind of home the electron has found to rest in, it is unlikely it will be left alone for long. The world will call, as it always does, in the form of light. (Link to Bohr and Szent-Greg). The electron doesn´t get to decide or choose. It can only rest in certain configurations of nature. Life knows the language of the electron. The language of the electron is The Periodic Table of the Elements, but life has its own language, its own rules for the elements and light.
Light carries information to the world. What does it say? Mostly, I think, some version of ¨get home.¨ Life says okay, but not yet. Not now. Let´s enjoy the journey home, and home again. Let´s see what fun we can have, what we can learn and do with this leftover potential, this light that keeps rousting the electron out of its temporary homes where it tries to rest on its way home again. Life says: why let all that light go to waste?
Light is exchange. It carries its own light-like value and message from its home, its origin, and source, which is a field https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field, and it can be assigned a value and message to carry on top of its nature-given message value. Who assigns this message? Human beings. What is the message? Amplitudes of waves that are given symbolic representations so that the message may be physically carried and transmitted from one location in space and time to another place in space and time. This is a physical exchange mediated by light´s propagative properties. In the physical, measurable world, there is no other way to mediate exchange that does not include light. As far as we know, gravity works on light-bound bodies.
From the big bang to baked bread to books to babies, from currency to kissing, from cells to senses, from metabolism to money, from faces to fashion, from music to muscles, from light to liquor -- bodies carry and recognize values that are given and assigned, converted, translated, recognized, and transformed into something new or broken down into something old.
These exchanges occur in what has been called The Three Kingdoms: Matter, Biosphere, Abstraction. Meanings of values become more abstract and subjective by conscious meaning assigners with unique histories. Disagreement
Still, there is one uncontestable truth all must agree on: all living systems need food and air to assemble and sustain the living kingdom from the kingdom of matter and light.
We may not agree how this came to be. But no one can disagree it is not true, so that is where to begin.
Exploring why we must eat food reveals the undeniable Two Great Truths of Identity and Wholeness, and what other things we might agree on.
Some use the term ¨system" instead of ¨body.¨