Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Jennifer Morgan

Welcome Ed!


Yes, thanks so much for your insightful comment Stephen pointing out the differences between a biological idea of metabolism and what’s going on at the “galactic scale which could be an entirely different type of energy exchange and perhaps aliveness of an entirely different order and character.” Perhaps there’s another approach we might try, rather than trying to extend a biological definition of life to include the universe as a whole.


Jim, Varela’s or Maturana’ definitions of life might be helpful here? Can you tell us what they are.


I’m not a scientist and not sure how this relates to your question Ed, but it might:
Eric Chaisson’s (astrophysicist) work examines the grand narrative of the universe as one of increasing complexity, reflected at a fundamental level as an increase in energy rate density, that is, an increase in the flow of energy per second and per gram of material found in a given system. This increase in energy rate density increases from the first elements to elements in stars, through early life, plants, animals, humans, and society. A single metric is used across all these different phenomena. In other words, life is not a radical departure from what came before, but is, instead, part of a pattern of increasing energy flow. Or put another way, an amplification of what was before. Is there a way in which life is part of an energy continuum that includes “non-life”? Seems so according to this metric.  Ursula?  Thoughts?


What about behaviors? What are life (or life-like) behaviors that biological life and let’s say, galaxies have in common? (Might be better to steer away from considering the universe as a whole since we get into the multiverse problem referred to in earlier comments.)


Re your question Ed, about the goal of the discussion, I hear that Duane is looking for a scientific explanation of his own personal experiences. Would that be fair to say Duane?