Researchers have proposed a “missing” scientific law for the evolution of life, minerals, planets, stars and almost everything else in the universe.
This new law defines the “universal concepts of selection” that cause systems to evolve, whether they are living or not. It refers to the tendency of natural systems in the universe to become more complex over time.
The research team behind the law, which included philosophers, astrobiologists, a theoretical physicist, a mineralogist, and a data scientist, called it the “law of functional information augmentation.”
“This was a true collaboration between scientists and philosophers to address one of the deepest mysteries of the universe; why complex systems, including life, evolve over time toward greater functional information.” co-author of the study Jonathan LooneyCornell University Professor of Physical Sciences, a statement.
Lunin and colleagues described their new law in a study published Oct. 16 in the journal PNAS:.
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Scientific laws are descriptions of observed phenomena. They do not explain why these phenomena occur or what causes them, but they advance our scientific understanding and provide a launching pad for future research.
The new law states that “the functional information of a system will increase (ie, the system will evolve) if many different system configurations are chosen for one or more functions,” the researchers wrote in the study.
The law applies to systems made up of many components, such as atoms, molecules and cells, which can be repeatedly arranged and rearranged and take on many different configurations, the statement said. The law also states that this configuration is selected based on function, and only a few survive.
Expanding on Darwin theory of evolutionThe researchers argue that non-living systems also evolve when new configurations of components work and improve function. One example of a function is stability, the statement said.
The scientific community is reacting to this new law. Commenting on the announcement of the Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Laboratory in Washington, theoretical biologist. Stuart KaufmanThe University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics said the study was a “magnificent, bold, broad and transformative paper,” while: Milan ChirkovichA research professor at the Belgrade Astronomical Observatory called the research “a breath of fresh air blowing over a complex terrain in the triad of astrobiology, systems science and evolutionary theory.”
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Nevertheless, The Guardian: reports that not everyone feels that way about the law, including astronomers Martin ReesEmeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge.
“Given the vastness of space and time, as well as the laws of physics and chemistry, an expanding variety of materials, environments and structures will appear in the inanimate world,” Rees said. “But I don’t see that this must be a manifestation of any new underlying principle similar to the role of Darwinian selection in the biological world through inheritance.”
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