Observations placeholder

Schrodinger, Erwin - What is Life - Versions

Identifier

004007

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Here I think we have an indication that Schrodinger believed in the existence of a 'farmer' - see Darwin.

One of the implications of what Schrodinger is saying is that the mutation produced could be beneficial – a beneficial change to a new more effective version, but it could also be ‘harmful’ [to the organism anyway]  in the sense that the change to a version is an extremely effective way of wiping that version out, by giving it design flaws. 

In computing, version control is less difficult than configuration control, but old versions still have to be kept as a sort of fall-back safety measure in case all goes terribly wrong.  Remember all those old versions of Windows which are around?  Microsoft has to maintain them all.  In computing, as you may be aware, because old versions may carry on for ages, you may have software versions going back years and years and years – and so it may be with the versions of the universe.  All this takes up space.  It appears that the removal of old versions in the universe, however,  may be a little less protracted –dare I mention may be somewhat more ruthless - than it is in the computing world, so less space may be needed than one might at first assume.

A description of the experience

Erwin Schrödinger – What is Life?

Mutations are inherited as perfectly as the original unchanged characters were … [in effect they] breed perfectly true, all their descendants inherit the characteristic.…………………….A  spontaneous mutation is a small step in the development of the species, … we get the impression that some change is ‘tried out’ in rather a haphazard fashion at the risk of its being injurious, in which case it is automatically eliminated ......An analogy might be sought in the working of a large manufacturing plant in a factory.  For developing better methods, innovations, even if as yet unproved, must be tried out.  But in order to ascertain whether the innovations improve or decrease the output, it is essential that they should be introduced one at a time, while all the other parts of the mechanism are kept constant.........

These considerations make it conceivable that an isomeric change of configuration in some part of our molecule, produced by a fluctuation of the vibrational energy, can actually be a sufficiently rare event to be interpreted as a spontaneous mutation.  Thus we account …. For the most amazing fact about mutations, the fact by which they first attracted de Vries’s attention, namely, that they are ‘jumping’ variations, no intermediate forms occurring.

........one might think of attributing the natural rate [of mutation] to the radioactivity of the soil and air and to cosmic radiation.  But a quantitative comparison with the X ray results shows that the ‘natural radiation’ is much too weak and could only account for a small fraction of the natural rate…….Nature has succeeded in making such a subtle choice of threshold values as is necessary to make mutation rare.

Individuals which, by mutation, acquire a gene configuration of insufficient stability, will have little chance of seeing their ‘ultra radical’ rapidly mutating descendancy survive long.  The species will be freed of them and will thus collect stable genes by natural selection.

The source of the experience

Schrodinger, Erwin

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Making love

Commonsteps

References