Post by Andrew McDowell
This week's Baen podcast (BFRH 2021 09 24: Going Interstellar Editors and Authors; and John Ringo’s Live Free or Die) is especially worthwhile.
A theory that there might be a technological civilisation in our Kuiper Belt, possibly settled long ago when the nearest star was nearer. Interaction with such a civilisation would explain UFOs without requiring FTL.
That's an interesting idea.
Perhaps something sci-fi plots lack is the latest ideas
concerning self-organization. And this applies to the
idea you cited since this process would make a nearby sun
not a requirement for the evolution of life.
Self organizing systems have the inherent tendency
to /create the ideal conditions for life/. Which means
the ideal conditions do not necessarily need to be
present for life to evolve. If the conditions are
sufficient, not necessarily ideal, life can evolve
by itself, as the title of the process of
And the primary prerequisite for self organization
to occur and two primary conditions. A persistent
energy gradient, and the highly unconstrained interaction
among countless independent variables.
Nothing more than a vast cloud of random particles
exchanging energy. And those conditions are the norm, not
the exception for our universe. The recent discovery of
self organization, or complexity theory, shows that
we've been asking the wrong question wrt life in the universe.
We've been asking is there life elsewhere, when we should
be asking why...isn't life here, or there. What stopped life
not what starts it.
The universe must be teeming with life, or will be, the math
is this on this point.
Self organization can create a complex adaptive
system, which is the abstract template for
all evolving systems, whether physical systems
living systems or even ideas.
Characteristics of Complex Adaptive Systems
All complex adaptive systems share common characteristics,
irrespective of whether the complex adaptive system is the
economy, the internet, an ant colony or the brain (Holland,
2014; Johnson, 2010). First of all the system is complex,
it contains many diverse and specialized agents, components
or parts (>3) in an intricate arrangement, which are the
building blocks of the CAS. Second, it is adaptive, it has
the capacity to change under influence of feedback or memory
(learn from experience) and thus evolve, giving it resilience
in the face of perturbation. CAS are usually open systems,
i.o.w. a system which continuously interacts with its environment.
This permits feedback. The interaction can take the form of
information, energy, or material transfers into or out of the
system boundary. Neighboring interactions predominate in CAS,
which can be both positive and or negative feedback, but some
long range interactions exist, which creates a small world
topology. CAS have a history or memory: they evolve and their
past is coresponsible for their present behavior.
The most important characteristic of CAS is that they show
emergence: the whole is more than the sum of the components
and the very specific connectivity creates a new property.
CAS are self-organizing, that is, the complexity of the system,
and thus emergence, increases without an external organizer but
by making the components competitive. This results in
nonlinear behavior: small causes can have large results, also
known as the butterfly effect. Thus anything can emerge, depending
on the feedback, and if you wait long enough it will happen.
The emergence arises once a lever or tipping point has been reached.
CAS have self-similarity, meaning that the whole has the same shape
as one or more of the parts, that is it has a fractal nature,
which is similar to structured noise. CAS operate far from
equilibrium: there has to be a constant input of energy to
maintain the organization of the system, and this is essential
These two links are the bibles for how nature really works
and in abstract form so the ideas can be applied for
the universe itself, life and everything else.
Natural Order - Self-Organizing Systems FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Post by Andrew McDowell
A Baen author telling us (with reference to the expected lifetime of technological civilisations) that if we survived Trump we could survive anything, and that we should be immensely grateful to the USSR for repeatedly refraining from starting WWIII.
You also get the first section of what will be the full audio book of Ringo's "Live Free or Die". I enjoyed this immensely as a light-heared feel-good ebook, but at the pace of the audio book you can hear that it is surprisingly well written - I've missed stuff because I was reading it quickly as entertainment and to see what comes next.
(https://www.baen.com/podcast plus I presume the usual podcast offerings)
BIG LIE From Wiki - "The German expression was coined by Adolf Hitler
when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, to describe the use of a lie
so *colossal* that no one would believe that someone "could have the
impudence to distort the truth so infamously."