Copy (2) of alt19

Looking at simple forms like the snowflake, [Kauffmann] he noted that its “delicate sixfold symmetry tells us that order can arise without the benefit of natural selection”. Kauffman says natural selection is about competition for resources and snowflakes are not alive — they don’t need it.


sunflowers Copy (10) of b_snowflakes-on-blue Mandelbrot_Set-Zoom_in

See link below for more on fractals/maths in nature



“Declaration of Independence from Darwinism” an article based upon Suzan Mazur’s  x·posé  on what has become known as the Woodstock of biology – a gathering of scientists (the Altenberg 16) who met in 2009 to discuss a new way forward in evolutionary thinking – an alternative to Darwinism. Stuart Kauffman was one of the scientists attending as is the focus of this post.

Developmental biologist Stuart Kauffman is clearly one who thinks we must expand evolutionary theory. Kauffman, now head of the Biocomplexity and Informatics Institute at the University of Calgary, is known for his decades-long investigations into self-organization.

He’s been described by one evolutionary biologist as a “very creative man, try reading one of his books” who said in the next breath that “if he [Kauffman] really put an effort into understanding evolutionary biology — the basic theoretical framework that we have — I think he could have come a lot further”.

Meanwhile, Kauffman’s had a breathtaking career, beginning as a medical doctor, honored as a MacArthur fellow (genius) and has worked with Nobel prize winner Murray Gell-Mann at the Santa Fe Institute where he first studied self-organization. Looking at simple forms like the snowflake, he noted that its “delicate sixfold symmetry tells us that order can arise without the benefit of natural selection”. Kauffman says natural selection is about competition for resources and snowflakes are not alive — they don’t need it.

But he reminded me in our phone conversation that Darwin doesn’t explain how life begins, “Darwin starts with life. He doesn’t get you to life.”

Thus the scramble at Altenberg for a new theory of evolution.


Below is the discription of Kauffman’s book on Amazon for anyone is interested. This post is related to another one I recently posted under the title of Turing Enigma: another alternative theory to Darwinism.

I hope you enjoy

Please pass on to anyone you think might be interested (share on Twitter/facebook), all the usual places and the topic is related to much I write about in my fourth book of the Darwin Delusion series: Book One by the same name is out now on Amazon and is cheaper than a cappucino Grande and less frothy.


Maria Brigit

check in again any time. Here is the Amazon description for Kauffmann’s book

At Home in the UniverseThe Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA21 Nov 1996 – Fiction – 321 pages
A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that rivals Darwin’s theory in importance. At its heart is the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, from the origin of life, to the workings of giant corporations, to the rise and fall of great civilizations. And more than anyone else, this revolution is the work of one man, Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the new science of complexity. Now, in At Home in the Universe, Kauffman brilliantly weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science–and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos.We all know of instances of spontaneous order in nature–an oil droplet in water forms a sphere, snowflakes have a six-fold symmetry. What we are only now discovering, Kauffman says, is that the range of spontaneous order is enormously greater than we had supposed. Indeed, self-organization is a great undiscovered principle of nature. But how does this spontaneous order arise? Kauffman contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization, or what he calls “order for free,” that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity–a living cell. Kauffman uses the analogy of a thousand buttons on a rug–join two buttons randomly with thread, then another two, and so on. At first, you have isolated pairs; later, small clusters; but suddenly at around the 500th repetition, a remarkable transformation occurs–much like the phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice–and the buttons link up in one giant network. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and self-organized into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable). Kauffman uses the basic insight of “order for free” to illuminate a staggering range of phenomena. We see how a single-celled embryo can grow to a highly complex organism with over two hundred different cell types. We learn how the science of complexity extends Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection: that self-organization, selection, and chance are the engines of the biosphere. And we gain insights into biotechnology, the stunning magic of the new frontier of genetic engineering–generating trillions of novel molecules to find new drugs, vaccines, enzymes, biosensors, and more. Indeed, Kauffman shows that ecosystems, economic systems, and even cultural systems may all evolve according to similar general laws, that tissues and terra cotta evolve in similar ways. And finally, there is a profoundly spiritual element to Kauffman’s thought. If, as he argues, life were bound to arise, not as an incalculably improbable accident, but as an expected fulfillment of the natural order, then we truly are at home in the universe.Kauffman’s earlier volume, The Origins of Order, written for specialists, received lavish praise. Stephen Jay Gould called it “a landmark and a classic.” And Nobel Laureate Philip Anderson wrote that “there are few people in this world who ever ask the right questions of science, and they are the ones who affect its future most profoundly. Stuart Kauffman is one of these.” In At Home in the Universe, this visionary thinker takes you along as he explores new insights into the nature of life.
See my recent post on Alan Turing on this blog – for another dot-connecting exercise…

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