Is life more likely than black holes to be an adaptation for universe replication?

June 15, 2017 by Sarah Cox, Brunel University London, Brunel University

Intelligent life is more likely than black holes are to be an adaptation designed by cosmological natural selection, an evolutionist from Brunel University London speculates.  

Writing in the journal Complexity, Dr Michael Price takes an adaptationist view on the theory of cosmological introduced by theoretical physicist Professor Lee Smolin in the early 1990s.

Smolin suggests that are an adaptation designed by cosmological natural selection and that life is a by-product of selection for black holes. Universes self-replicate through black holes, and selection favours universes that contain more black holes.

Dr Price theorises that, based on our knowledge about how natural selection operates at the , intelligent life is actually more likely than black holes to be a mechanism by which universes replicate themselves – a concept known as cosmological natural selection (CNS) with intelligence.

Price notes that natural selection operating at the biological level is the strongest known process in the universe for creating complex order and for slowing down the process of increasing entropy (degeneration and decay), and it may operate at the cosmological level as well.

Essentially, life is much more complexly ordered and less likely to arise by chance than a black hole, and thus more likely to be an adaptation for universe replication, he explains. This view contrasts with Smolin's suggestion that black holes are the adaptation and life is the by-product.

"Living organisms are the least entropic, that is, the most complexly ordered and improbable entities known to exist," Dr Price, Head of Brunel's Centre for Culture and Evolution, explains.

"Biological natural selection (BNS), then, is the strongest known anti-entropic process because it creates organisms. Biological natural selection endows those organisms with traits called adaptations that ultimately enable genetic replication. We recognise a trait as an adaptation based on its improbable complexity, and this complexity is the hallmark of natural selection.

"If we accept, as Professor Smolin argues, that we live in a multiverse where universe designs reproduce competitively according to a process of selection, then biological natural selection may be a reliable guide to what we should expect from cosmological natural selection.

"By implication, I suggest that both and black holes are plausible candidates to be CNS-designed adaptations but the probability of being such an adaptation is higher for life than black holes or indeed, for any other known object in the universe, because is the most complexly improbable thing we know of.

"I also suggest that more generally, CNS may be the ultimate primary cause of cosmological order, just as BNS is the ultimate primary cause of biological order. In other words, BNS and CNS may together be ultimately responsible for much of the order that we observe in the universe. Without this order there would be no entropy because nothing would decay to a less-ordered state and therefore no arrow of time.

"In sum, the process of selection may be far more fundamental to explaining the nature of our universe than is generally supposed."

Explore further: Did the universe evolve to make black holes?

More information: 'Entropy and selection: Life as an adaptation for universe replication' by Michael E. Price, Department of Life Sciences, Brunel University London, is published in Complexity:

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1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2017
You know that natural evolution (Yes, I know life is adaptable. I'm talking about how it even exists.) is a marvelous way to explain away all the difficult questions and infinitesimal probabilities in the biological world when the cosmologists attempt the commandeer it to explain away theirs.
not rated yet Jun 16, 2017
Biological natural selection (BNS), then, is the strongest known anti-entropic process

Biology is not anti-entropic - it is borne out of entropy.

Much like one of those water pumps that leak water to pump water uphill - it lets the water flow until it picks up speed and once fast enough it shuts off a valve that sends a little bit of water up the pipe under its own momentum.

The overall entropy of the system is always increasing, so there's no anti-entropy or free energy to be had. Biology is like that: it's a result of energy flowing from an ordered to a disordered state, and the chemistry of life is like the opening and closing valve that diverts a tiny bit of the energy to a lower entropy state, while the total entropy of the system remains ever-increasing.

The water pump can reach only so high. Likewise, natural selection simply follows the flow: if there's more energy flowing around then more complex life forms are possible.
not rated yet Jun 16, 2017
This idea of 'universe replication' seems like someone is forcing a concept applicable to a certain context onto another, totally unrelated one.

We don't know whether other universes even exist - much less if they 'replicate'. (much, much less why black holes should be involved in this process - or intelligent life for that matter)...Jumping from that amount of unknowns to conclusions seems pretty iffy.
not rated yet Jun 16, 2017
The article does not assert that biology defeats entropy. It's states, correctly, that it represents the strongest known anti-entropy process. Whether or not biological processes are borne out of entropy is immaterial.

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