Dear Stan and All,

Please let me start by repeating my idea that fluctuons are "its", that is, 
energy in some form. If (mathematical) idealism is anti-realist, this is 
certainly not what I would consider Conrad's theory to be. Stan comes to the 
same conclusion, that fluctuons are its, but this suggests to him a 
non-materialist conception of information. This is a first place where 
something like another logic is needed that can incorporate the 
material-energetic and non-material aspects of information.

Stan wrote:
>That these unmanifest communications are “not susceptible to being washed out 
>by thermal >fluctuations”, I suppose follows from the definition of 
>‘unmanifest’, but organisms seem to be >manifest.  What are we reaching for 
>here?  Transcendence of material limitations as the world >goes sour on us?

This is a very pertinent comment, and I have also speculated that Conrad was 
reaching for something like this, which is of course not the evidence for it we 
would like. But we are looking for something beyond bits; no one is arguing 
that they are vague; they are too crisp.

If the principle of scale hierarchy says that information flows are not 
possible across scales, perhaps we need to take another look at that principle 
;-). If there is no exchange between the unmanifest world and the manifest one, 
and change, randomness, etc. are totally different in the unmanifest world, 
this might tend to confirm it. However, I feel the differences between the two 
are not only of scale.

Seems to me we are off to a good start,


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Stanley N Salthe 
  Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 11:26 PM
  Subject: Re: [Fis] Revisiting the Fluctuon Model

  Folks --

  Comments upon Kirby’s & Brenner’s ‘Opening Remarks’

  (1) I used Conrad’s early information-based work in developing my conception 
of the scale/compositional hierarchy as applied to material systems.  As a 
materialist, I may have ‘mis-read’ his work.  I think this now, upon glimpsing 
this ‘fluctuon theory’, which is clearly not a materialist construct.  Rather, 
it seems to lie in the realm of mathematical idealism.  

  Admittedly, materialism may turn out to have been a ‘wrong turn’ in our 
attempts to understand the universe.  Information itself may not be a 
materialist proposition!  My own thinking is really ‘bit’ from ‘it’!  Then, 
fluctuons may really be ‘its’, and not ‘bits’!  Surely ‘bits’ emerged into the 
world with information theory, crisp as that is.  I argue that any development 
must go from vaguer to more definite, as with any embryo.  Bits ain’t vague.  
Or, tell me HOW they are vague.  Fluctuons as limned here seem pretty vague to 
me – perhaps because language cannot reach their mathematical crispness!

  We do not yet have a fuzzy version of cosmology, I suppose.

  “Vertical flows” directly “up and down” the scale hierarchy contradicts one 
of the principles of that hierarchy in application, which requires transduction 
of information in order to cross scales (example: a higher level constructs 
statistical representations of lower level dynamics).  That, of course would be 
in the ‘manifest, material world’.  And it is precisely ‘information flows’ 
that would be interdicted at scale changes.

  “Percolation networks” to foster a “logical approach” to information flows 
across hierarchically organized compartments may seem OK in math.

  “Interaction” between manifest organisms and the “unmanifest vacuum” is 
tantalizing, but… in information theory?  “Fascinating and rich”, yes.

  That these unmanifest communications are “not susceptible to being washed out 
by thermal fluctuations”, I suppose follows from the definition of 
‘unmanifest’, but organisms seem to be manifest.  What are we reaching for 
here?  Transcendence of material limitations as the world goes sour on us?


  Let me add that in my evening musings, I do entertain thoughts that might 
well be more crisply informed by fluctuon theory!

  On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 7:49 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan 
<> wrote:

    (The previous message was truncated, sorry. I am sending it again. ---P.)



    Kevin G. Kirby 
    Department of Computer Science 
    Northern Kentucky University (US)

    Joseph Brenner 
    International Center for Transdisciplinary Research 
    Paris (France)

    (Kevin Kirby)

     In the standard view, taken for granted so completely it is rarely 
articulated, the fundamental physics of particles and fields is a mere 
"platform" for life. Physics and biology are surely deeply different: the 
extreme ends of the scales simply don't match up.  For example, the notion that 
somehow the incompatibility of general relativity with quantum physics has some 
relevance for life seems nonsensical.

    But is it? In a series of papers published throughout the 1990s, Michael 
Conrad put together a theory in which life was, as he often put it, an image of 
the underlying physics of the universe. The mere title of one of the final 
papers in the series, and the title of the book he wanted to write, "Quantum 
Gravity and Life," seems almost like a non sequitur. And indeed, the theory he 
put forth was difficult. But the claim I would like to put forward is that 
there are deep ideas here that -- even if the full details of the theory are 
not correct or not well-defined-- help us reach a more satisfying theory of 
information in the natural world.

    Tragically, Conrad passed away in 2001, and was unable to complete his 
book. Yet a very thorough description remains of his ideas in a series of 
sixteen papers from 1989 through 1998.  This work centered on what he called 
fluctuon theory. The main exposition was in a series of papers "Fluctuons I,II, 
III" published in Chaos, Solitons and Fractals during 1993-1996.  For the 
purposes of this discussion, two briefer papers can be recommended as providing 
good summaries of his ideas here:

    * Conrad, M., 1995, Multiscale synergy in biological information 
processing. Optical Memory and Neural Networks 4(2), 89-98.

    * Conrad, M., 1998, Quantum gravity and life, BioSystems 46, 29-39.

    The fluctuon theory asserts that the universe is a kind of giant homeostat, 
but one in which the ground state is always in flight. The universe slides in 
and out of consistency.  His starting point was the Dirac sea of negative 
energy particles: his vacuum was a plenum.  There was more than one sea. One 
was of electrons and positrons, where photons are chains of such pairs. The 
gluons of the strong nuclear force were to be chains in a quark/anti-quark sea. 
Gravitons were chains that arose from all massive particles in these seas. 
Viewed this way, these chains of virtual particles, disturbances in the sea 
--which as a class he called "fluctuons" --  are responsible for all 
fundamental forces. He described fluctuons as skipping along the energy surface 
of the vacuum sea as analogous to a stone skipping along the surface of a pond.

    This theory is daunting not because it is mathematically complex; in fact, 
its mathematics mostly resembles elementary perturbation theory. It is daunting 
because it is so discontinuous with the standard model of particles and fields. 
 For example, even though gluons play a role, there is no use of group theory 
or symmetry principles.

    What the fluctuon theory does have, however, is a mechanism for seeing the 
"lifelike" in the "un-lifelike".   Central to the theory is that there are 
vertical flows, up and down, across microscopic, mesoscopic, and macroscopic 
levels.  In particular microscopic decorrelation and recorrelation processes 
are amplified up the scale, and this is characteristic of life. These flows in 
fact are information flows.  (Information also plays a role in the fluctuon 
theory through the notion of anti-entropy.)

     How does logic connect to this? None of Conrad's work dealt with logic per 
se. But the fluctuon theory allowed Conrad to talk systematically about 
percolation networks, and the nested, hierarchical, compartmental structure of 
interactions is one way a logical approach could take hold here. To what extent 
can we see this as "ontological levels of reality"?  In fact, could the dynamic 
oppositions discussed by Joseph Brenner in his LiR theory be aligned with the 
decorrelation/recorrelation concept in the fluctuon theory as it reaches across 

     Overall, within fluctuon theory "the interaction between the manifest 
organism and its unmanifest vacuum sea image abets the evolution, persistence, 
and maintenance of this unique complexity [of life]".  This is a fascinating 
and rich notion.  What can we unfold from this notion now in 2010? 

    (Joseph Brenner)

    In a Wheeler model of the universe, information as an abstract entity (bit) 
is ontologically prior to any material-energetic entity (it). If, however, 
energy or its effective quantum field or string equivalent is primitive, as I 
believe, interpretations of information in terms of energy become much more 
plausible. The physicist/biologist Michael Conrad proposed a cosmological model 
in which energetic interactions are possible between our everyday ‘manifest’ 
world and the complex ‘unmanifest’ world constituted by vacuum conceived of as 
a plenum of potentialities for particle-anti-particle pair production. This 
would correspond to a De Sitter-type model of the universe.

    The most fundamental manifest quantum entities (photons, electrons, quarks, 
perhaps others) and their field equivalents are characterized by their 
self-duality and/or wave-particle duality. In another domain involving a 
minimum of two interacting entities, e.g., a hydrogen atom, non-separable 
physical dualities provide the basis for further relations and interactions 
resulting in thermodynamic change and evolution up to and including the 
universe of ordinary matter-energy as a whole. Entities in which self-duality 
is expressed are ‘timeless’ and undergo no change into others of the same kind 
without massive external inputs of energy. It is an open question, however, 
whether fluctuations in the quantum vacuum constitute changes of state in the 
thermodynamic conception of change, that Hawking showed applied to black holes.

    What Conrad achieved was a deeper level of explanation which provides for 
the differentiation of the universe into vacuum and non-vacuum domains. Conrad 
divides his scheme into 1) a model of the vacuum per se, the fluctuon model, in 
which interactions between observable or manifest particles are mediated by 
transient excitations of unmanifest vacuum fermions that propagate through the 
sea of unmanifest fermions in a chain-like manner,  and 2) a biomolecular model 
that links the macrophysical actions of organisms via transduction and 
amplification schemes to the microphysical dynamics of sub-cellular components 
down to the most microphysical level of the indicated dynamics of the vacuum. 
In the Conrad cosmological picture, the primordial energies of the manifest 
universe evolve with differentiation into the electromagnetic and gravitational 
forces, and the vacuum evolves to yield particles with charge-masking 
properties into a state of mutual consistency. 

    Biological organisms can “unmask” the recursive, irreversible processes 
that dominated the evolution of the early universe and real-time cognitive 
capabilities (consciousness) derive from this unmasking. The hypothesis is that 
the vacuum makes an indispensable contribution to the real-time capabilities of 
biological systems. Unlike the discredited concept of consciousness mediated 
directly by quantum entities, the unmanifest influences in this theory are not 
sensitive to being washed out by thermal fluctuations due to the 
self-correcting properties of inconsistencies in the cell between the manifest 
and unmanifest structure.

    From the standpoint of my extension of logic to real systems, Logic in 
Reality, in which the Principle of Dynamic Opposition describes the alternating 
contradictorial actualities and potentialities of real systems, Conrad’s 
conceptions are extremely interesting. For example, at the cosmological level, 
feedback processes in the neighborhood of black holes have an a-periodic 
spiraling aspect, with many local collapses and reversals of collapse that 
correspond exactly to the Principle of Dynamic Opposition in LIR, also avoiding 
hypothetical singularities required in classical physics.

    In order to evaluate the relevance of Conrad’s work to information science, 
and in fact science in general, the most important question is whether there is 
recent or current research in physics that directly addresses the existence of 
the interactions postulated by Conrad. I hope that further contributions can 
help to disentangle the fascinating interplay of philosophical, physical and 
biological questions posed by Conrad’s work.

    For completeness, let give my two, different references:

    1993. The Fluctuon Model of Force, Life and Computation: A Constructive 
Analysis. In Applied Mathematics and Computation 56 (2-3), pp. 203-259. 

    2000. Closure and Anticlosure in the Realm of Quantum Gravity: Why 
Evolution Needs No Origin. In Closure. Emergent Organizations and Their 
Dynamics, J. Chandler and G. van de Vijver (eds.). Annals of the New York 
Academy of Sciences, 902, pp. 244-256.



Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
Avda. Gómez Laguna, 25, Pl. 11ª
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Telf: 34 976 71 3526 (& 6818) Fax: 34 976 71 5554

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