Why is our universe so good at organizing itself.

Let me back up here first…

From what we can tell, life on earth exploded not much longer after earth itself formed, relatively speaking (within the first billion years).

Life can be seen as some localized “reversal of entropy,” which is fine, if the laws of thermodynamics hold, and that eventually heat-death will prevail.

But taking our one data point, i.e. Earth, and extrapolating that life is possible and astronomically diverse, prolific, and complicated—perhaps even likely across the perceivable universe—this sort of order out of chaos is astounding to say the least.

All that said, is there a word, or are there principles that might uphold this observation?

Or, in other words, removing the possibility of life—the very idea—from what we know about the universe and its natural fundamentals, should it be surprising that life can spring forth from it or not?

Is it surprising when the puddle fits the hole it sits in?
In this universe, all outcomes are equally surprising.

I’m familiar with that argument, and in fact, have used it before.

Anthropic Principle (et al) aside, is that what’s going on here? If biology is some puddle filling a life-shapped hole in the universe, what might be the fundamental forces of nature driving it?

Or does it all just boil down to gravity, the nuclear forces, and electromagnetism?

Newton’s Law of entropy applies only to a closed system. The Earth is not a closed system, we continuously receive new energy from the Sun (which is, inexorably, progressing towards a state of higher entropy.)

I don’t dispute that.*

In the grander picture, however, our brains have essentially arisen by themselves from an unthinking universe. A highly organized structure capable of observing itself, and the blind universe it came from.

I’m not arguing against any formulations of entropy, per se, merely asking if our brains, as one example, should be considered a profound anomaly within it (and so on)?
*Though, it can be argued the universe is a closed system.

He’s not arguing that it’s not - that’s why he added “that eventually heat-death will prevail”.

No. Think of it in terms of infinite monkeys writing Shakespeare. At some point, the chaos will look like order. It doesn’t mean the piece that looks like order is no longer a part of the chaos.

Or chemistry. Once chemistry allows complex molecules which can replicate themselves, imperfectly, evolution happens - because even before life molecules which replicate faster will drive out those which do it more slowly.

“Natural Selection”.

Acts as a ratchet, or a seive, keeping the good, and discarding the bad. The trick is it only goes one way. Some rock on an asteroid might last longer than another rock, but it doesn’t pass on its longevity, and the next rock has just as much chance as any other to be long-lasting. Some things, however, have the property of “heredity”, meaning they pass something about themselves onto another generation.

Reproduction and heredity are basically all you need to get the ratchet going. Any type of thing that reproduces itself with reasonable accuracy will have occasional mistakes, but some of those mistakes will result in improvements. Since there’s a ratchet, the improvements are kept, and passed on. That’s how you gradually make it up the hill from simple to complex.

As for the universe as a whole, it started out well organized, and it’s just been winding down slowly into chaos ever since.

Granted. But 14 billion years is quite shy from infinity.

I’d rather this discussion not delve into the speculative idea of multiverses (although, I personally don’t rule them out), but this analogy fails to convince me there’s no deeper principle at work driving biology and evolution.

And I understand all of this. Chemistry being largely nuclear and electromagnetic on the fundamental, it is one of my greater loves in the spectrum of science. But there is nothing in chemistry, besides the fact of biology, that points to why this is or is not necessarily an intrinsic property of chemistry.

And if it is, could this be an argument for the likelihood that the universe it teeming with life of all kinds?

Just to lighten the mood.

I have felt this way in the past myself. It can be both deceptively simple and deceptively complex.

Natural Selection is a great point. And you state the argument eloquently.

But where did heredity arise from? What in atomic and molecular bonds encourage this?

Ha. Perhaps I’m feeling a bit reckless and impulsive with my atheistic thoughts, but hell, I’ll even embrace abiogenesis was a freak accident. :cool:

And if it was (I assume it was), it seems, that’s all that’s necessary—that one reaction—which makes itself replicate, and life becomes a force of nature that should be considered inevitable.

“Have you ever looked at DNA? I mean, really looked at it?” :wink:

All in all, I suppose the undercurrent argument to my OP is:

Forget the Drake Equation or what have you. Abiogenesis, as evidenced only on our tiny speck of rock we call Earth, demonstrates that life is inevitable in the universe, wherever abiogenesis happens to happen.

And abiogenesis may come in many chemical flavors—perhaps an astronomical number.

What you are looking for is Complexity Theory and the Emergence Principal. Check out the work coming out of The Santa Fe Institute. Complexity is still a very new area of scienctific study. No formal theory as yet. They are still trying to define exactly just what complexity and emergence are. Kind of like porn, hard to define but easy to spot when you see it.

With a sample size of 1, all that can truly be said is that it did happen, here.

Thanks, I figured there were some study and frameworks this line of thought must already be underway. I’ll check it out.

Which is, of course, the great sticking point.

But, what are the frontlines of research in science on the principles of chemistry, or whatever it may be, that drove this one, measly instance?

If it turnes out to be a random, “brute-force” luck like the infinite Shakespeare monkeys, then the universe hit the jackpot inside of 10 billion years.* That’s a long time, but not that long.
*And, really, only one billion years if just looking at the formation of our planet.

Emergence come from the interaction of many agents in a system. The key features seem to be many agents and feedback. There is a threshold between chaos and complex systems and only a subset of complex systems show higher order emergent behaviors.

Weather is a prime example of a complex system without higher order behaviors. While an ant colony is a complex system with emergent behavior. The only thing that tell an individual ant to find food or take out the trash is it’s interaction with all the other ants. Colonies that fall below a critical size fail because they lose the interaction of enough agents to sustain the emergent behaviors for survival.

I’m sure there’s been a ton of research, experimentation and thought on this as well. At some point it has to come down to what specific molecules lead toward this emergence.

I know we point to the amino acids and simpler proteins as candidates for this. I’m just not aware of how far we’ve gotten on this or if there are other avenues.

What I find the most fascinating is that unlike the weather, and/or emergent ripples or patterns in sand dunes driven by the wind, out of life came conscousness.

Conscousness itself is an emergent phenomenon of the interaction of neurons in the brain. Complexity upon complexity builds our universe.