The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1322  Tuesday, 14 May 2002

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 2002 11:37:15 +0100
Subject: 13.1304 Re: Issues
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1304 Re: Issues

I was going to desist, but Martin Steward writes:

>The human eye is only more "orderly" than the
> light-sensitive spots on bacteria in terms of its
> adaptation to the environment in which humans
> live.

No, it's more orderly in the objective sense of requiring more energy to
make it. That's why Marcus introduced the apparent problem of the second
law of thermodynamics.

> If it were more "orderly" in itself, then light-sensitive
> bacteria would have been selected out for extinction.

The apparent problem is how to get from simple light-sensitive bacteria
which have been around for a long time to sophisticated eyes which are a
more recent development. I think you're comparing modern eyes to modern
light-sensitive bacteria whereas the point of this example was to
compare modern eyes to whatever existed in our distant ancestors.

> These spots are much simpler they human eyes,
> and in some sense or other one could equate simplicity
> with order.

There's an advantage to simple systems: they take less energy to build,
leaving more energy for reproduction. But complex systems have tended to
win the struggle to reproduce because, all other things being equal, a
creature with a sophisticated eye has a better chance than one with a
simple eye.

> There is no progress or regression in
> the natural world.

On the contrary, the world around us, for all its faults, is more
complex and admirable than the primeval soup.

Gabriel Egan

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