On Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 05:39:58AM -0400, Roger Clough wrote:
> Hi Russell Standish 
> Bernard cells are mechanical, not caused by a self as agent but by
> laws of physics. They may be self-organizing, but there's no self
> to organize things.
> Photosynthesis is a life process, not mechanical because it does things no 
> computer 
> program can do, namely turn light into energy, and CO2 in O2.

The former can be done with traditional photovoltaic cells made from silicon.

As for the latter, there are a variety of ways of doing this
mechanically (ie chemical, but not biological). See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis for more
details. Also suggested was the following:

"Alternatively, you could heat CO2 over a catalyst of iron doped
zeolite and hydrogen to produce water and ethylene. A nonthermal
plasma applied to ethylene will generate carbon soot and recover the
hydrogen. Electrolysis of water gives back the extra hydrogen and
produces oxygen. (Hey! I didn't say it was efficient.) It might be
useful to someone on Mars who has endless power in the form of a
nuclear reactor and plenty of CO2 but not so much oxygen."

(see http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-154820.html)

I remember reading a New Scientist article on artificial
photosynthesis. It is possible today, although not with the same
efficiency as plants. The aim is ultimately produce something far more
efficient (plants aren't exactly optimal - as John Clark would say,
they are "good enough").

> This requires intelligence, which can't be programmed,

Why do you say that? Chloroplasts don't seem particularly
intelligent. They produce oxygen in the presence of light and CO2,
otherwise metabolise as a normal cell when one or other of these
ingredients is missing.

> since it must be free choice, even if just a wee bit.

Even more bizarre - have you evidence of a chloroplast deciding not to
produce oxygen when light and CO2 are present, just because it didn't
feel like it?

> Choice is needed because like Maxwell's Demon, it goes against entropy.

You mean the second law. No it doesn't, as the light provides plenty
of free energy to drive the reaction.

> Self-organization has neither a self nor intelligence,
> since it is purely mechanical. Only life has intelligence and self.

I can't object to that statement, per se:). Of course, distinguishing between
life processes and mechanical processes is a bit dubious. Most
scientists think that life _is_ mechanical.  Someone who doesn't is
the late Robert Rosen - but his arguments are rather difficult to
follow, and I don't find myself in 100% agreement with them.


Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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