LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

May 12, 2008

Memorable Structures

Filed under: Ch 05 Cyber Systems — insomniac @ 11:54 am

I remember reading a book many years ago that suggested that the dimensions of the great pyramids revealed secret knowledge. My first reaction was a hearty teenage guffaw. But as i read further, i began to get the drift of what the author was saying. The shape, orientation and dimensions of any edifice show quite plainly the level of expertise attained by the builders. The shape of the pyramids clearly shows the builders had a working knowledge of solid geometry, for example. Closer study reveals that they were also experts in measurement, stone masonry, transport of extremely heavy objects and management of huge labor forces. The process of reverse engineering the pyramids has been going on for some time and we are still discovering more of the “secret” knowledge contained therein.

The same has been said of the great cathedrals of Europe. Their designs reveal the secret knowledge possessed by the architects. The knowledge of building technique and strength of materials was adequate to create structures that have endured for centuries. The structures themselves are more than just a testament to the skill and knowledge of the architects, they are a physical record, a real expression of that skill. These structures are a form of memory.

Take a look at the structure of keys and locks as information. Not only do they reveal the level of expertise of the locksmith, the very function of locking mechanisms is the storage of information in the structures themselves. Changing the shape of the key changes its stored information. The lock stores the same information, but in negative form. When they match, the information can be used to open the lock. If they don’t match, nothing is accomplished.

Now think of all the connections that have evolved in the construction of computers. These connections fit like a key in a lock. This keeps the ignorant user from plugging a device in the wrong place. The shape of the connectors is stored information, intelligence really; a memory that remembers how it fits into the system.

In biological systems, we find this key and lock, complex connector, concept used everywhere. The whole system functions by molecules interlocking their complex shapes with other molecules. The shapes of these molecules are information about who is supposed to hookup with what. The shape of each molecule predetermines its potential relationships. In other words, each molecule fits into an overall plan that all other molecules share.

Reverse Engineering

The concept of reverse engineering involves studying the structure of an object and decoding the information stored therein. Usually it means taking apart the finished product and figuring out how it must have been produced. It works well if you have an understanding of the processes involved. For example, industrial competitors usually have little trouble figuring out each other’s methods, once they have the product.
The finished product is specific information about the process creating it, in the same way that a building is a nail by nail, board by board, stone by stone record of its construction. The same is true of all matter. Every molecule is a physical record of the chemical events involved in its creation. When we fully understand the process, the steps will be as obvious as those of building a house. Looking at it this way, all matter is memory. Every molecule assembled by a cell is like a packet of data. The atoms and molecules used in the assembly have changed relationship. That new “state” is a physical record of those changes.
From this point of view, the storage and transfer of information is the main function of all those complex molecules that traverse our environment.
This concept of structure is everywhere we look. It is a basic attribute of time and space, energy and matter, even personality and behavior. If we consent to a Whole Universe, with everything related to everything else, then the relationship matrix, the structure, the definitions or rules that hold it all together, become Its essence.
The structure of the Universe is not something you can touch or feel directly. Structure, here, is not a material or static thing, but a dynamic web of relationships. It is informational rather than material. Structure is information that holds the system together.

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