I've been lurking for a while while I try to figure out something useful to
contribute, but figured you should at least know I'm here...
I'm a postdoctoral research fellow at Cambridge (UK), working in
palaeontology - specifically, the early evolution of various invertebrate
groups, and the relationship of physiochemical environmental factors to
evolutionary patterns. I also have an outside interest in such matters as
self-organised criticality, in relation to the origin and evolution of life. I
have a slightly mathematical background, in that I intended to pursue
theoretical physics before discovering as an undergrad that I enjoyed looking
at fossils even more. I have practically no background in computing.
My interest in this area lies primarily in the philosophical perspective, and
I admit, in a somewhat less rigorous style than I've experienced here. Saibal
invited me to this list after reading some comments on another message board
discussing whether information merely describes physicality, or actually
defines it. My approach to the area is largely non-mathematical, involving
mainstream philosophy, and a large pinch of oriental philosophical/religious
aspects combined with parapsychology. As you can imagine, it has been difficult
trying to usefully find a way into the discussions!
As a brief introduction to the sorts of things I've been reading, try:
Penrose, R. The emperors's new mind.
Capra, F. The Tao of Physics
Dennett, D. Consciousness Explained
Evolution books by Steve Jones, Dawkins, Gould etc., as well as a large number
of specialised papers on Proterozoic and early Phanerozoic evolution.
Complexity and chaos-based books, including those by Kauffman, Lewin and Gleick
Various oriental texts, but particularly the Wen Tzu, Tao Te Ching, poems of Li
Po, "Cultivating Stillness"
David-Neel, A. With mystics and Magicians in Tibet
Plus several of the "classic" books on philosophy - Hume, Berkeley, Descartes,
and anything else I can find, for background.
For the parapsychological side, try the Journal of the Society for Psychical
Research (very mixed content, but some definitely interesting bits - I
As you can tell, this is a slightly unorthodox selection. However, I am, like
you, a professional scientist, so please try to think of it merely as a
different approach to the same problems, rather than a frivolous pursuit to be
immediately dismissed! I look forward to the point when I can follow your
arguments fully enough to be able to join in...
All the best,
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB2 3EQ
Phone: ( +44 ) 1223 333400
Fax: ( +44 ) 1223 333450