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Friday, 23 February 2018

Waves (3) - history and nature always repeat itself

The wave pattern can be found anywhere: economical cycles, gravitational waves, human migration out of Africa, mass extinctions, ocean waves, and so on. This wave pattern is also hidden in expressions that history repeats itself - or nature. "The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself" (Aeon).

George Bernard Shaw once stated that "if history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience". To some extent, this is an example of the Mediocrity principle: "The principle has been taken to suggest that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of the Solar System, Earth's history, the evolution of biological complexity, human evolution, or any one nation".

"What’s fascinating is how these different pathways of evolution arrived at nervous systems that look so similar across the animal tree of life. Take for example the work of Nicholas Strausfeld, a neuro-anatomist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He and others have found that the neural circuits underlying smell, episodic memory, spatial navigation, behaviour choice and vision in insects are nearly identical to those performing the same functions in mammals – despite the fact that different, though overlapping, sets of genes were harnessed to build each one." (Aeon)

Aeon: "These similarities reflect two key principles of evolution, factors that are probably important on any world where life has emerged. The first is convergence: these far-flung branches of the evolutionary tree arrived at common designs for a nervous system because they each had to solve the same fundamental problems. The second is shared history: the idea that all of these differently built nervous systems shared at least some element of common origin. On our world, they each evolved from molecular building blocks that were forged in the physical and chemical environments of early Earth."

"Take these two ideas to their logical ends, and one arrives at a startling conclusion. If the history of Earth was rewound and played back, evolution might not arrive at this present year with the same assortment of animal groups that we see today. Mammals or birds, perhaps even all vertebrates, might be absent. But evolution might still arrive at most, or even all, of the same innovations that permitted the emergence of sophisticated brains: those innovations might simply emerge on other branches of the animal tree." (Aeon)

The neuroscientist Leonid Moroz explains this by stating: "‘It was much more than just the presence or absence of just a few genes. It was really a grand design." The scientific notion that nature follows a grand design is one of the root causes for the existence of religious beliefs.

“Nature, which makes nothing durable, always repeats itself so that nothing which it makes may be lost.”A quote from Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish poet and playwright

History Repeating (1997) by the Propellerheads featuring Shirley Bassey

The word is about, there's something evolving,
whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here,
that the revolution's near,
but to me it seems quite clear
that it's all just a little bit of history repeating


Note: all bold and italic markings by LO