Is it possible that Life only comes into existence when the cell’s sensory-motor network composed of individual IMP switches become the collective Attention/awareness/perception/intelligence of an entire cell? If so, then the individual molecules, e.g. amino acids, proteins, and even the individual switches, while providing the material substrate for Attention, hence Life, are not alive by themselves.
Life = Collective Attention ≠ Material Substrate
Life has many significant physiological subsystems, e.g. respiratory and digestion, each of which is necessary for survival. However these are just microscopic machines that behave mechanistically. Further their intrinsic logic is atomistic in that the parts determine the whole – amino acids to proteins to IMPS to mini-organelle systems. Mathematics reveals the dynamics of their deterministic behavior.
In contrast to these physiological subsystems, Life behaves intentionally to survive as a holistic system. Living systems interact, rather than react, to information. The purpose of this interaction is the survival of the entire organism, not just some individual parts. Why is there a qualitative difference between the individual parts and the whole organism?
We suggest that it is the cell’s collective Attention, or whatever you want to call it, that organizes millions and even trillions of individual atoms and molecules to act as an intentional unit. This is not an easy task. A virtual infinity of atomic particles must be coordinated to first perceive and then to take the deliberate action that is necessary for survival as a unitary entity – a holistic organism. Further complicating the job is the fact that the team members are relentlessly changing.
Life’s collection of atoms and molecules does not stay put. These microscopic particles do not remain in place to serve the greater whole, the holistic unitary cell. Rather, the cell consists of a revolving door of molecules and atoms that are constantly being recycled – shuttled around and then replaced with another molecule of like kind – perhaps losing or gaining an electron or two in the process.
The following quotation provides a cogent example of the transitory nature of our atomic content, as living systems.
“Quantum physicists have proven that 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced within one year. Every three months, your body produces an entirely new skeleton. Every six weeks all the cells have been replaced in your liver. You have a new stomach ling every five days. You are continually replacing old blood cell with new ones. Every month you produce a new skin as dead cells are shed and new cells grow underneath. The proteins in your muscles are continually turned over as muscle is broken down and new tissue is synthesized. Even your actual DNA as physical cells were not there six weeks ago. Every cell in your body is constantly being recycled.
Best selling author and mind-body expert Dr Deepak Chopra describes the ongoing cellular renewal process like this:
“It’s as if you lived in a building whose bricks were systematically taken out and replaced every year. If you keep the same blueprint then it will still look like the same building. But it won’t be the same in actuality. The human body also stands there, looking much the same from day to day, but through the process of respiration, digestion, elimination and so forth, it is constantly and ever in exchange with the rest of the world.”’
Sorry for the extended excerpt from Fitness Renaissance, LLC, 2003, fitren.com, but the information blows me away every time I read it.
In contrast to the ever-changing content of living systems, the water molecules in a cube of ice or the gold atoms in a piece of jewelry remain fixed as long as environmental forces don’t act upon them. The molecules in your kitchen table are the same as the day you acquired the table. Solids, even enormous glaciers, don’t recycle atoms.
Rather than the transitory content of cells, atoms are forever. What gives atoms their permanent identity? Certainly not the microscopic electrons that ‘dart around’1 the ordered shells surrounding the atom’s nucleus. The collective movement of scadillions of electrons is certainly important as it generates an electro-magnetic field. The waves of energy from these fields are one of the 4 primary forces of the Material Realms – something that can change the fixed momentum of reality. However as electrons frequently move from molecule to molecule or are shared, they don’t provide a stable identity for the atom.
Rather than electrons, it is the number of protons and neutrons making up the nucleus that provides the atom with a permanent identity. For instance, gold atoms are virtually immortal. The 79 protons and 118 neutrons of every gold atom on our planet have been joined together for billions of years – even before the formation of the earth. According to the current model, the rare collision of neutron stars generated enough energy to fuse the requisite number of protons and neutrons together as an unbreakable unit, a gold atom. These atoms might swap and share the electrons in their outer shell. But the nucleus with its set amount of protons and neutrons has remained virtually the same since the collision and will probably remain so until the end of the Universe as we know it. No earthly energy can destroy this indestructible embrace.
Cells are not like this. Their molecular content is constantly changing. The difference between atoms and cells is in kind, not degree. While the atoms are fickle, the cell’s functions remain the same, albeit with different actors. Every cell and every multi-cellular organism shares the same basic systems, e.g. digestive and elimination. While the parts change, the systems remain the same.
Atoms have permanent static content, while Cells consist of transitory molecular content that is somehow organized into permanent dynamic systems. As such, the two require a different type of explanation – one based in permanent atomistic content; the other based in permanent holistic systems.
Atoms = Permanent Static Content
Cells = Transitory Molecular Content
Cells = Permanent Dynamic Systems
How do cells perform their magic? How do they organize inanimate molecules into efficient systems that support their Life? It seems that the Collective Attention of hundreds of thousands IMP must certainly be a factor in the survival of living systems. What are some other crucial factors?
Besides content (permanent vs. transitory), there is another feature that differentiates cells and atoms. The cell’s systems are anti-entropic, in that they organize rather than fall apart. In contrast, material systems are entropic, in that they become more disorganized over time – unless they receive energy from outside the system. What gives rise to the anti-entropic, i.e. organizational, nature of cells? In this case, there is no mystery.
The cell’s organizational (anti-entropic) biological energy derives from our Sun’s eruptive gravitational forces that throw photons our way. Individual photons from the sun collide with the atom’s electrons causing them to jump a shell. The electron’s shell-jumping generates heat and electromagnetism. This photon-electron exchange powers living systems. It provides them with the energy to organize and evolve, rather than devolve into chaos. But the photon-electron exchange, while supporting Life, is not Life.
What is it that intentionally organizes these complex matter-energy reactions to sustain Life? Could it be the mindless self–organizing tendency of certain collections of molecules? For instance on the ‘simplest’ level, water molecules spontaneously form ice crystals when the temperature drops below freezing. When these ice crystals become numerous enough, they organize into glaciers. It could even be argued that these rivers of ice that transform the face of the earth even have type of ‘life’ span.
While significant, matter’s self-organizing feature has some serious flaws when it comes to living systems. Self-organization is too general, not specific enough – too mechanistic, not intentional enough. In order to survive, Life requires an urgency and flexibility of response based upon an interaction with the latest news/information. While creating beautiful structures over time, these reflexive material reactions are not responsive enough to current conditions to sustain a cell.
If matter’s ability to self-organize has some fatal flaws, what is it that organizes billions of inanimate molecules into a cohesive team? Let’s put a pause on this question for the time being, while we consider a related question. What force binds the Cell’s molecules together as a unit?
Physicists have discovered that there is both a strong and weak nuclear force that holds the protons and neutrons together as a unit in the atom’s nucleus. Scientists also know that an electromagnetic force binds the negative charge of electron shells with the positive charge of protons to form atoms. And of course everyone knows that the force of gravity binds the planets in an elliptical orbit about the sun and humans to the Earth’s surface. What force holds the cell’s random assortment of atoms and molecules together as a dynamic, yet cohesive unit for up to a millennium in the case of certain trees or 250 million years for bacteria trapped in glacial ice?
There is a universal consensus amongst the global scientific community that the aforementioned gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces are the four fundamental forces that determine the behavior of our material Universe. Which one of these four fundamental forces binds an ever-changing assortment of atomic particles together as a living organism?
Gravity? Too weak – everyone would agree. This force is powerful enough to unite large masses like planets and stars. However, its influence is negligible between smaller bodies like humans. When was the last time that the force of gravity pulled you into someone?
The two nuclear forces? Exceptionally strong, hence the immortal gold atom, but only at sub-microscopic distances. The enormous influence of these forces falls off rapidly – virtually disappearing over the microscopic distances that apply to a cell. Gravity too weak; Nuclear forces too short.
Electromagnetism? More probable, but too impersonal – no collective urge to survive. Further this energy is not specific enough to impel the five million to two trillion molecules in a cell to move after food or avoid toxic environments.
With the big four removed from consideration, what does that leave? Could there be yet another force? What is it?
Let us suppose that there is a ‘life force’ that both organizes and binds the millions to trillions of molecules together as a team with a common goal. As the big 4 forces are out of contention, we imagine that this life force must be independent of matter, while simultaneously dependent upon the cell’s material substrate for its existence.
What would this life force require to accomplish its goals, i.e. organizing and binding a loose collection of inanimate particles as an interactive, intentional unit? A life force would definitely need some mechanism that would allow it to interact with environmental information, both internal and external. A sensory-motor apparatus to monitor and then adjust to dynamic circumstances would be a start. Fulfilling this basic requirement would be essential.
Could this process begin with the collective Attention of hundreds of thousands of IMPs? Embedded in the cell’s membrane, these sensory-motor switches enable us to both sense and respond appropriately to environmental information.
However, there are hundreds of thousands of individual data streams, each generated by an individual IMP switch. Responsible for organizing and unifying the entire organism, how would this collective life force deal with such a profusion of data?
Could it be that our life force would also require an ID system to interact with environmental information – to transform sensory data streams into a useable form? It seems likely. Our life force would definitely benefit from an automatic procedure that specializes in data streams, if it could be employed to filter out noise and the unexceptional (ordinary) and simultaneously highlight valued content and the exceptional (out-of-the-ordinary).
An easy-to-compute algorithm with minimal storage needs that reveals pragmatic analytics regarding any data stream would certainly be useful in this regard. The Living Algorithm, the mathematical realization of our ID system’s image overlay process, fulfills the function.
Refocusing: the only purpose of the life force is to serve the organism – whether a single microscopic bacteria or a 37 trillion multi-cellular human. This directed energy is concentrated upon organizing inanimate molecules to both maintain the integrity (homeostasis) and fulfill the purpose (innate nature) of the organism. For instance, I satisfy my bodily needs, e.g. food, exercise and sleep, so that I can write these words. While of mysterious origins, this urge to pass on my inspiration to a new generation is deliberate, not mechanistic.
A bacterium survives to reproduce. Is this reproduction urge simply a mechanistic reflex to pass on gene pool or an intentional innate drive that aims at the continuation of the species? There are no logical criteria for deciding between these opposing view. I prefer the second. I may have had sex to satisfy bodily urges – but my continuing desire, over the last four decades, to nurture and shape my daughters into responsible, loving adults seems more related to service of human culture than to the simplistic ‘passing on my gene pool’.
Maintaining homeostasis in order to reproduce (the most fundamental urges of every cell) aims at satisfying the desires of the entire organism, not single inanimate molecules or IMP switches. Fulfilling these universal urges requires the collective, not individual, Attention of hundreds of thousands of IMPs – the sensory/motor switches that are embedded in the cell membrane.
According to our model, the collective Attention is in turn part of an Information Digestion System that employs an Image Overlay Process (IOP). The LA reveals the mathematics of the IOP, hence the dynamics/physics of the ID system. The IOP generates a new experience-based dimension of time. Having both a material and an immaterial info-based component, Life resides at the intersection of experiential time and material time – at least according to my current model2.
How did Life along with her miraculous IOP and ID system come into being? How did the Energy that spawned the Big Bang come into Being? Same answer.
Is it even possible to determine the origins of either Life or Matter?
If the Big Bang jump-started our Material Universe, where did it come from? Subatomics, superposition and the original energy? What source generated all this energy and structure? We know the mathematical laws that govern material behavior. Yet no one knows the origins of these immutable laws, what or who set them in place.
A big, seemingly insurmountable, question also surrounds the intricate structure of our Universe in relationship to the Big Bang. The famous consciousness denier Stephen Hawkins writes about this Mystery in his celebrated book A Brief History of Time. If there is no structure at the moment of the Big Bang, the result is a homogenous blah – no definition. If even the slightest amount of order is inserted at this famous moment, the consequence is too broad – none of the intricate refinements that characterize the Cosmos. Hawkins suggests that the order exists or was established in the range of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – in-between Order and Chaos. Sounds Taoist or Chinese.
Where did this inscrutable, sub-microscopic structure that ultimately gave rise to the 10,000 diverse features of our multi-splendored existence originate? Again, no one knows.
Similarly, many speculate about the origins of cellular life. Yet there is no consensus. Huge gaps remain unexplained. With each new solution, more problems arise. Like the many-headed Hydra, cut off one head and 10 more take its place.
Yet there is no need to wrestle with the question of origin. Rather than sigh our life away speculating about original causes, let us focus on what is. One thing we know for sure, both Life and Matter are. That’s all we need to know to begin investigating their behavior.
Thus far our investigation has shown that cells require some kind of life force to organize and unite their random set of ever-changing molecules behind a common goal. This life force requires the collective Attention supplied by thousands of IMP sensory motor switches to interact with environmental information. It also requires a system to digest this information – transform it into a useable form. Is it possible that the awareness associated with this life force engages with environmental data streams via the Information Digestion System?
1 I enclose certain words, such as ‘darting around’, in quotation marks to indicate that this is a purely metaphoric description – with little basis in reality. Electrons in particular and the Subatomic Realm in general are unimaginable to we Molecular Beings. It is beyond imaging – surpassing our imagination's capability to comprehend.
We attempt to understand the bizarre behavior of this paradoxical realm of existence by employing molecular models – images that we can hang our conceptual abstractions upon. Physicists know full well that atomic shells with their orbiting electron planets is only a metaphor, not equivalence. Electrons don’t really ‘dart around’ the atomic nucleus. Rather these so called ‘particles’ come in and out of existence – disappearing and reappearing in a probabilistic, not definitive fashion. Nothing like planets around the sun or a ball upon a string, electrons are only imagine-able via mathematical models.
2 Mr. blabbermouth is impelled to add one more thing to this lengthy exposition on the microbiology of Attention. His Information Digestion model was not developed to address cellular behavior. Rather his ID model has developed organically over the last four decades (from 1978) to address human behavior. Cells were late in the game.
It was only in the last season (Spring 2021) that he came to realize that his model nestled perfectly into the micro-biology of the Cell. When he came to define and describe the components of the ID Synergy, he was blown away to further discover that biologists had identified these same components in the single Cell. Attention, the primary focus of my ‘Science’, even seems to have a biological correlate, which I’ve identified in this article. While not leading, these cellular facts have definitely informed my investigation into our relationship with data streams.