"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Growing Evidence That "Information" Models of Biophysics Are Dead Wrong

Two recent research papers point our attention toward disproving the assumptions underlying information theory's intrusion upon biophysics, inter alia. Before discussing these recent developments, it must be mentioned that prima facie information theory from its onset has always rankled many, including myself, on the grounds of its dehumanizing ontological implications. The crass mechanistic and reductionist empiricism evident in Wiener's doctrine of "cybernetics" provides a paradigm for this modern revamping of Occam's razor. Humanists in the line from Plato to Leibniz have quite naturally always been viscerally repulsed by such "thinking." 


It is therefore, with great pleasure that we must hail any results that tend to undermine such a hideous and anti-human ideology. Whenever experimental results deviate from these sorts of assumptions, we realize that the original meaning of hypothesis in the Platonic sense of a method of questioning metaphysical assumptions is a universally truthful standard for scientific method in perpetuity. 


The first paper, "Slow integration leads to persistent action potential firing in distal axons of coupled interneurons," released in December on the transmission of action potential current in axons in the opposite direction away from dendrites and back into the neurons is a remarkable take-down of the whole idea of transmission of some imagined computer-like "bits" of information in the circuitry of the brain. The second paper, "Molecular vibration-sensing component in Drosophila melanogaster olfaction," published just this week seriously undermines the lock and key model of chemical signalling in protein recognition. It further further concludes that this model must be replaced by a vibrational wave sensing model. It turns out that fruit flies can distinguish the "smell" of the deuterium isotope, which as far as the chemical lock and key model of sensation should be no different from the protium isotope of hydrogen. This bears upon this author's longstanding preference for a biophysics that highlights persistent, chiral solitonic waveforms that differentiate our living biosphere. It is in certain such unique conformations of the inert and apparently"dead" lithosphere that we find the substrate that life exhibits an immanent capability to choose. These types of investigations are increasingly crucial for the field of astrobiology, the which will predominate as mankind moves out to colonize space if the oligarchical Malthusian, Aristotelean information theory worldview is given a well deserved burial.

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