Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Duel Between Physics and Biology

At a cosmic level there is a conflict between physics (matter) and biology (life)—physics, as we understand it, says that the universe had a beginning (Big Bang) and it will come to an end when all its energy gets exhausted (Big Crunch). But biology wants to know that if the universe, with all life in it, will one day end, then why did life evolve? The question is: Should the considerations of physics be allowed to override the interests of biology? Physics (matter) is concerned with the mathematical and scientific aspects, but biology (life) aspires to transcend the mathematical and scientific so that it might exist forever.


Ajit R. Jadhav said...

Big Bang is a widely accepted theory from Cosmology, but not from physics. Big crunch is a far less accepted hypothesis, once again from Cosmology, but not from physics. Realize, no Physics Nobel goes to Cosmology, though it might go to Astrophysics/Astronomy (as for gravitational waves). Note the "logy" part, if it helps.

The idea of the Big Bang itself is a conceptually inconsistent interpretation of the available evidence in many ways. That is, even if you *exclude* the initial singular event from it. (BTW, realize, the initial event isn't a moment, because it by definition lies outside of time.) Further, there are conceptual inconsistencies like a supposed "expansion" that doesn't occur in an embedding space. The Big Bang happened at every location you can see---that's how the better among cosmologists describe it to the layman. The worse, of course, go on a "trip".

The initial event---the universe-creating event---is merely a mathematical *limit* of certain aspects of the universe. In case you haven't studied calculus, let me tell you, they teach you right in XI (even in colleges in India that follow only the Indian authors' local text-books) that the limit of a function and the value of the same function are two different idea, even if most times, the two numbers are equal. The limit of the width of a railroad track in the perspective projection is a good case. The two functions (straight lines in a homogeneous isotropic universe) never do actually meet, and so, the width never is zero. But, the width vanishes (becomes zero) in the limit of infinite length.

Physics studies laws governing the inanimate objects and the material aspects of the living beings. ... It's very simple. Physics formulates laws that are common to all of the following: motions of cars, of any dried flowers present in the car (their "corpses"), as also the material aspect of flower-plants in the cars that are alive. (We assume a driver-less car here.) If you apply brakes (using a remote control), then you expect the flower-plant stem to bend forward. The extent of the bend is governed by the laws of physics---it's a material aspect of a living being. That's physics for you.

The way biology has been developed, it studies only the material aspects (or correspondents) of the life processes. Often (esp. for studying the structural aspects, themselves only material aspects), it focuses on such aspects as are common to a living being and its dead body. For instance, the structure of a cell.

Biologists who think that immortality is in principle possible, are merely brothers and sisters of the physicists who think that the universe was *created* at the Big Bang, and hence it would end in a Big Crunch, but that it might be possible, using big enough technology (preferably one created in the Silicon Valley startups), that such a Big Crunch might be averted, and so, all the governments in the world should allocate funds for such a research. Well, the point is: there was no Big Bang in the first place---not in the sense of creation! (And even in every other sense, there are conceptual inconsistencies, rooted in a poor understanding of the maths involved. ... It's a lot like "relativity". Relies totally on a poor understanding---of the mathematical processes underlying the mathematical objects/abstractions.)

Hope this clarifies.


Anoop Verma said...


Good points. This does clarifies things.