Scientists have announced a new “natural law” that includes living organisms, planets and stars

Scientists have announced a new “natural law” that includes living organisms, planets and stars

What if evolution was not limited to life on Earth? This is, in essence, what a team of nine American scientists and philosophers led by the Carnegie Institution for Science proposes in a new article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (October 16, 2023).

Defines the post “Employment Information Augmentation Act”under which all “complex natural systems” – Whether life on Earth or atoms, metals, planets and stars – evolve into states “More structured, more diverse, more complex”.

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Life, atoms, stars…

Concretely, what does this mean? Before we get straight to the examples, we need to define in a few words what the authors mean “development”. The term should be understood here as “Choose a job”. Stay focused, it’s simple!

If the nineteenth-century naturalist Charles Darwin generally understood “job” Concerning the survival of organisms, i.e. the ability to live long enough to produce fertile offspring, the authors go further by also recognizing as functions “stability” (ability to continue) f “heresy” (New configurations).

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To clarify the selection “heresy”, the article discusses two conditions relevant to living organisms, such as photosynthesis, multicellular life (when cells “learned” to cooperate until they form only one organism) and animal behavior. But also examples from within the mineral kingdom!

Thus, Earth’s minerals, which numbered about two dozen at the dawn of our solar system, number nearly 6,000 today. And that from just two major elements—hydrogen and helium—which were formed, shortly after the big bang, by the first stars. About twenty heavier chemical elements then form, before the next generation of stars draws on this initial diversity to produce nearly a hundred more.

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“Evolution is everywhere”

“Charles Darwin eloquently described how plants and animals evolve by natural selection, with many variations and characteristics of individuals and many different configurations. We see that Darwinian theory is only a very special and very important case within a much larger natural phenomenon.”Summarizes in a press release Professor Robert M. Hazen, of Carnegie University, who supervised the work.

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His colleague Michael L. adds: Wong, an astrobiologist at Carnegie University and first author of the study: “The universe generates new combinations of atoms, molecules, cells, etc. The combinations that are stable and can generate further novelty will continue to evolve.”

“This makes life the most obvious example of evolution, but evolution is everywhere.”

this news “law of nature” Which describes increasing complexity reminds us of another law: the second law of thermodynamics. This actually states that “entropy” (In other words, the turbulence) in an isolated system increases with time, which is why heat always flows from hotter objects to cooler objects.

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Open discussion

Forces, motion, gravity, electromagnetism, energy… most of it “laws of nature”, Describing and explaining phenomena that are constantly observed in the natural world, they have been described for more than 150 years.

The new “law of nature” developed by the American team – consisting of three philosophers of science, two astrobiologists, a data specialist, a mineralogist and a theoretical physicist – will undoubtedly provoke many reactions within the scientific community. .

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“At this stage in the development of these ideas, they closely resemble the first concepts in the mid-19th century century to understand “energy” and “entropy,” it is now necessary to have an open and wide-ranging discussion.”, commented in the press release Stuart Kaufman, a researcher at the Systems Biology Institute (Seattle). As a reminder, a theory is only considered “scientific” if it is falsifiable…

On the same topic:

⋙ “Microbial Lion”: A new form of life on Earth discovered by scientists?

⋙ The emergence of complex life on Earth: Scientists contradict the “oxygen control” theory.

⋙ Fibonacci spiral: “Nature’s secret code” became rare in the time of the first land plants

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