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Does nature favour cool computations? News from SFI

  1. Jun 22, 2016 #1


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    Hi everyone. I'm not sure if this should fall under Biology and Medical, or under some other science category, but I found the following news link from the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) website, about analysis by physicist and complex systems researcher David Wolpert, which suggest that imprecise, noisy computations can actually cool a biological system. The link can be found below.

    http://www.santafe.edu/news/item/Wolpert-nature-selects-cool-computations/ [Broken]

    Here is also a link to the actual published article, in the journal Entropy:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 24, 2016 #2


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    Curious how I see no reaction at all to my original thread here.
  4. Jun 24, 2016 #3


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    Maybe the articles would be better placed in the probability forum, or classic physics for there is no special thermodynamics forum. Personally I don't understand enough probability theory to give an educated answer. The one who came to my mind which I'd be happy to read an answer from is Terence Tao but I think he is not part of PF.
  5. Jun 24, 2016 #4


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    I don't think the article is of general interest to biologists or the wider scientific community. This fact is reflected by it being published in a relatively obscure journal.
  6. Jun 26, 2016 #5

    Fervent Freyja

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    Although it's a very interesting paper and I did save it, I can't comprehend it well enough right now to really comment on it. Introductory physics I & II is often all that is required for biology majors.
  7. Jun 26, 2016 #6


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    The journal that it was published in was related to the analysis of complex systems, but was applied specifically to biological problems (hence why I had posted this in the Biology forum). Perhaps the thread might be better placed under the section on Condensed Matter Physics (of which statistical mechanics is a part of, and much of the journal discusses topics related to statistical mechanics, at least to my admittedly limited understanding of the field) or to General Physics?

    At any rate, it's a fascinating article, and wanted to raise awareness of it here on PF.
  8. Jun 27, 2016 #7


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    Isn't that just saying "if the result is irrelevant, organisms shouldn't spend energy on a decision" on a lot of pages?

    Yes theoretically you can cool the system - if you start with a very low entropy somewhere in the organism. Where does that low entropy come from? You had to produce that before, using energy.
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