Quarks to Culture
eBook - ePub

Quarks to Culture

How We Came to Be

Tyler Volk

  1. English
  2. ePUB (apto para móviles)
  3. Disponible en iOS y Android
eBook - ePub

Quarks to Culture

How We Came to Be

Tyler Volk

Detalles del libro
Vista previa del libro
Índice
Citas

Información del libro

Our world is nested, both physically and socially, and at each level we find innovations that are necessary for the next. Consider: atoms combine to form molecules, molecules combine to form single-celled organisms; when people come together, they build societies. Physics has gone far in mapping the basic mechanics of the simplest things and the dynamics of the overall nesting, as have biology and the social sciences for their fields. But what can we say about this beautifully complex whole? How does one stage shape another, and what can we learn about human existence through understanding an enlarged field of creation and being?

In Quarks to Culture, Tyler Volk answers these questions, revealing how a universal natural rhythm—building from smaller things into larger, more complex things—resulted in a grand sequence of twelve fundamental levels across the realms of physics, biology, and culture. He introduces the key concept of "combogenesis," the building-up from combination and integration to produce new things with innovative relations. He explores common themes in how physics and chemistry led to biological evolution, and biological evolution to cultural evolution. Volk also provides insights into linkages across the sciences and fields of scholarship, and presents an exciting synthesis of ideas along a sequence of things and relations, from physical to living to cultural. The resulting inclusive natural philosophy brings clarity to our place in the world, offering a roadmap for those who seek to understand big history and wrestle with questions of how we came to be.

Preguntas frecuentes

¿Cómo cancelo mi suscripción?
Simplemente, dirígete a la sección ajustes de la cuenta y haz clic en «Cancelar suscripción». Así de sencillo. Después de cancelar tu suscripción, esta permanecerá activa el tiempo restante que hayas pagado. Obtén más información aquí.
¿Cómo descargo los libros?
Por el momento, todos nuestros libros ePub adaptables a dispositivos móviles se pueden descargar a través de la aplicación. La mayor parte de nuestros PDF también se puede descargar y ya estamos trabajando para que el resto también sea descargable. Obtén más información aquí.
¿En qué se diferencian los planes de precios?
Ambos planes te permiten acceder por completo a la biblioteca y a todas las funciones de Perlego. Las únicas diferencias son el precio y el período de suscripción: con el plan anual ahorrarás en torno a un 30 % en comparación con 12 meses de un plan mensual.
¿Qué es Perlego?
Somos un servicio de suscripción de libros de texto en línea que te permite acceder a toda una biblioteca en línea por menos de lo que cuesta un libro al mes. Con más de un millón de libros sobre más de 1000 categorías, ¡tenemos todo lo que necesitas! Obtén más información aquí.
¿Perlego ofrece la función de texto a voz?
Busca el símbolo de lectura en voz alta en tu próximo libro para ver si puedes escucharlo. La herramienta de lectura en voz alta lee el texto en voz alta por ti, resaltando el texto a medida que se lee. Puedes pausarla, acelerarla y ralentizarla. Obtén más información aquí.
¿Es Quarks to Culture un PDF/ePUB en línea?
Sí, puedes acceder a Quarks to Culture de Tyler Volk en formato PDF o ePUB, así como a otros libros populares de Philosophy y Philosophy & Ethics in Science. Tenemos más de un millón de libros disponibles en nuestro catálogo para que explores.

Información

Año
2017
ISBN
9780231544139
1
COMBOGENESIS AND A GRAND SEQUENCE
How did the simplest things in the universe transform into the riches of culture we have today? Can a natural narrative provide an answer? As a metaphor, consider things that build one after another by events of a special class. At each event, smaller things (systems, entities) from prior levels combine into larger things on subsequent levels. This general process is here called combogenesis: the births of new types of entities by the coming together and integration of prior things. Taken altogether, the fundamental or basic levels of combogenesis are called the grand sequence.
1
NATURAL CHAPTERS AND NESTED SCALES
SUMMARY: Within the body are living cells, and within the cells are atoms. Going inward in scale of size takes us back in time to the first origins of these fundamental types of things. Can this simple insight provide us with a general logic that we might use to derive natural chapters in a narrative of the universe?
A UNIFIED NARRATIVE?
Who are we? Where did we come from?
As a start, consider the flaring forth of space, time, energy, and matter at the Big Bang. Billions of years later Earth’s pageantry of life thrived and evolved, from ancient wriggling microbes to today’s roaring elephants. Just a hair’s breadth in time prior to the present, the florescence of conscious human minds eventually created today’s rich tapestries of culture. How did all this happen?
Physicists, biologists, anthropologists, and others with viewpoints based in specialized fields can offer answers for portions of this great saga. Is there a way to unite all those parts into an integrated narrative? Even more radically—and at the heart of this book’s findings—can this narrative contain what might be considered natural chapters? Is there a way we can ask—poetically of course—the universe to be our narrator?
NARRATIVES WITH RHYTHMIC THEMES
Narratives that progress by the beats of general internal themes run through many of the world’s ancient creation myths. The Bible has its famous seven days of creation. The Aztecs envisioned a series of worlds or “suns” formed and then destroyed. Native Americans of the Southwest tell about a final emergence to us, upward through a sipapu, or portal, perhaps inside the Grand Canyon, that followed previous climbs upward with help from animals.
What these myths share is a succession of stages—in the form of days, suns, portals—structured by a theme that operates in a repetitive cycle.1
In contrast, a science-based narrative of where we come from seems to lack any simple rhythm, but there are plenty of main events. An astrophysicist would hail the point when the first atoms condensed not long after the Big Bang. A paleontologist would get us to gasp at the colossal impact from space, which unleashed energy equivalent to a billion Hiroshima-leveling atomic bombs, extinguishing the dinosaurs and 90 percent of all species from giant to microscopic. An archaeologist might regale us with the epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia, the earliest recorded awareness of personal mortality.
Experts will have no problem identifying major events. But how are those events determined to be the truly main ones? It seems to depend on the narrator and field of expertise.
There is a new way to make this determination, I suggest, one that has the potential for revealing an overall, integrating narrative with a rhythmic theme that defines main events. Here the goal is not to invent a theme. But does a theme present itself? If so, can it help us to understand our place in nature?
The theme to be proposed, unlike the narrative devices of the ancient creation myths, must tie together hard-won scientific knowns. As it turns out, we will find a succession of main events like those in many of these myths. The events did not arrive at equal intervals of time like months in a calendar or pulses of a song. Yet we will see a rhythm of sorts—let us say a highly irregular cosmic heartbeat. And the results of each beat were more cumulatively creative than the beats of your heart. Each beat produced a fundamental new level of being. We contain some of those levels. And we live within others.
LOOKING INWARD TO YOUR BODY’S LEVELS OF THINGS
I start with a thing immanently real, your own body.
Your body is a major type of thing. Billions of other individuals of your same type—Homo sapiens—currently walk Earth. Indeed, you are a member of many sets that increase in generality: You are an individual human body. You are an individual animal body. You are an individual multicellular organism. You are an individual life form. And at a scale of generality shared even with quarks and atoms, you are an individual thing.
Inside your body live microscopic things called cells, more than 30 trillion of them.2 (Let us not count the bacteria living on and inside you.) If we ignore the issue of mutations, your cells carry the same DNA, yet they radically differ in size, shape, and function across your body’s tissues and organs. During their choreographed dance that began with a single fertilized human egg cell, the exploding populations of cells communally affected each other. The result guided certain genes and thus proteins into abundant expression in some cells but not in others. Thus, you are constituted as a vast community of muscle cells, nerve cells, bone cells, liver cells, and many other types of cells.
Let us travel more deeply down into the microcosm. What’s inside cells? Both DNA and proteins are examples of the type of things called molecules. Your cells typically contain tens of thousands of subtypes of proteins. Furthermore, like all molecules, those proteins contain atoms. So we can logically say that because molecules are inside cells, and because atoms are inside molecules, it’s the case that atoms are inside cells. Because a typical cell of the human body contains about 300 trillion atoms,3 then (very roughly, within a factor of 10) there are about as many atoms in each cell as there are cells in your body.
Physicists and chemists recognize atoms as an extraordinary, basic type of thing. The properties and behaviors of atoms are relatively well studied. At this point, to keep it simple, I focus on atoms as a crucial part of the logic but come back to molecules in the next chapter when I need to better refine the search for and definition of basic levels.
As noted, there is something fundamental about each of these scales of things: (1) human body, (2) cell, (3) atom. There is no debate here about the essential roles each plays in our biological lives. Each is also essential to our understanding of who we are. Furthermore, each type is quite general, for each has many subclasses: many different individual humans who have many kinds of cells that contain many kinds of atoms. We might lump the members of all these types and subclasses into one gigantic, inclusive set of “all things,” but then we would have no distinctions to work with. So I propose that in the search for natural chapters in a narrative of the universe, we look for some of the most general types of things that are vital to our existence—for example, the types that form the basis for some of the earliest lessons typically learned in science classes. Atoms and cells surely headline that bill.
SYSTEMS AS THINGS: TERMINOLOGY
There is no perfect term for what I want to discuss. So far I have been talking about types of “things.” And I have shown that these things tend to physically contain smaller things inside them. A thing made of smaller things, or components, is often called a “system.” The point made when using this word system is to emphasize that bodies are systems of cells, cells are systems of atoms, and atoms are systems of nucleons, and so on—in any case, all contain coordinated, interacting internal parts. We have not yet gotten to the guts of the atoms, but we will when we have more purpose.
A word about this word system. It’s a good alternative to thing. So I do use it. But when it is overused, it can feel a bit cold. It invokes mechanism. It emphasizes the fact of a thing having parts but doesn’t embrace, well, the whole thing. But does the word thing feel any warmer? How about entity? I have used the latter and will continue to do so. But it’s not the best term. It conjures spooks. One might try to coin a new word. I was going to shorten entity into ent until it was pointed out to me that Ents are a race of creatures in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We might tinker with ontology, a term with ancient Greek roots used for the general study of things and existence. So ontum perhaps? Then, we could state that an ontum (say, a cell) is made of smaller ontums (say, atoms).
The open-ended, nonspecific, plain-wrapper blandness of the word thing might give it some advantage here in the quest for a preferred term. But I employ thing, system, entity, and occasionally even ontum as synonyms. Whatever the word, what is important for the logic is the fact of multiple scales of what can be called nesting or nestedness in the most fundamental levels of being: systems nested inside systems, things nested inside things.
Note that in the examples given, the existence of each scale of smaller thing is necessary for the existence of the larger scales of nestedness. The body does not just happen to have cells; the body is alive because it is a coordinated system of living cells. To exist, our cells need the deeper-down building blocks of atoms.
GOING BACK IN TIME BY GOING SMALLER IN SCALE
To more richly appreciate this nesting of fundamental ontums, let us consider time. As we go inward—or downward (feel free to choose your own term for this particular form of movement)—the deeper, smaller scales of the microcosm take us back in time. Going inward is a form of time travel. How so?
For focus, we can ask about the origin of any particular type of thing. Consider multicellular animals, of which we are a member. Current estimates from the science of biological evolution place the origin of multicellular animals somewhere between 700 million to a billion years ago.
Next down in the scales discussed so far are the animal cells. Consider them from the perspective of origins. They, like the cells of all animals and of plants and fungi, too, are members of a certain, particularly crucial and complex type of cell that evolved roughly 2 billion years ago, perhaps a bit earlier (much more detail on that membership is g...

Índice

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Preface
  7. Part 1. Combogenesis and a Grand Sequence
  8. Part 2. Twelve Fundamental Levels
  9. Part 3. Dynamical Realms and Themes
  10. Epilogue: What About the Future?
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. Glossary
  13. Notes
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index
  16. Graphic Concept Summary