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Sun Oct 5 2003 at 18:51:03 (14.1 years ago )
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Mon Jan 12 2004 at 21:56:02 (13.9 years ago )
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i like all things life-related and i like to know how things work. fundamentally like math and physics and non-fundamentally like biology and history. heh...i read a book by ernst mayr where he swore that biology could not be reduced to physics, while he admitted that everything in biology is made of atoms that obey the laws of physics and that there is no force fundamental biology. basically he and i disagree semantically about the meaning of "reduce" and whether it is more useful and interesting to look at biology as reducible or irreducible. well i say reducible.

the fact that the laws of physics govern biology has fascinating consequences. there is no free will! see, if you accept the idea that cells are made of atoms and physics describes what atoms do and that there is no biological force separate from the physical forces of electromagnetism, gravity, and nuclear forces, like mayr does, then you say that everything we do can be expressed by a mathematical formula. and don't let the argument that "there is uncertainty in quantum mechanics" fool you. quantum mechanics explicitly gives the probabilities of things being measured to have this or that location or velocity or energy or whatever. even in that framework, free will doesn't exist. take, for example, a coin, which has a 50% chance of landing on heads or tails. The fact that you know that probability means the coin cannot have any free will in any typical sense of that term. if the coin could, for any flip, decide what it would come up heads, to keep the probability at 50-50, that moment of free will would have to be counterbalanced by a non-free tails.

In other words, the fact that physics can mathematically describe the probability of the atoms in our arm being here or there necessarily implies that we can't "decide" to move our arm. if we decided such things, we'd destroy the probabilities, meaning the laws of physics don't apply to biology. but mayr says they do...so which is more earth-shattering, the fact that we have no free will, or his ideas about speciation and evolution?

i work in a law firm. i'm going to law school next fall. gotta go to work... bye.