Eddies in the Stream

by Roger D. Jones

I am writing a new book with my colleague John Casti entitled Eddies in the Stream. It is an arrogant project about what life is. No, I mean what really what life is. How did it come about? Is it constrained to be chemistry-based? Can computer programs be alive? Can cities be alive? Is a society of universes possible? That sort of thing. Here is an excerpt from the book.

“What is there about matter, energy, and information that leads to the spontaneous creation and continued existence of complex systems of which we humans are an example? Does life need to composed of carbon atoms as we are? Can life be made out of other types of molecules? Or to take the questioning deeper, does life require chemistry at all for its existence? Can life exist in a nuclear reactor or in a neutron star or in very cold solids near absolute zero or in the memory units of a computer? And what are these things we call consciousness and awareness? And what in the world is a soul?”

How about that? The writing is tough, so I am starting this blog in order to decompress after a day’s worth of writing. I am writing the story board for the book. My friend and colleague Alex Washburn, who is an architect and city planner, told me that you cannot really understand something until you draw it. So I am drawing pictures of how the story goes. It starts with the beginnings of life on Earth. Then it travels to the question of what does it mean for life to try to understand life. The next step is to understand how living systems overcome the road to oblivion, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything in the universe ends in a formless heat bath. And then there is more.

As you can imagine, writing this book is emotionally draining. That is why I have started this blog. Stay tuned to see how we progress. At the end of the day, in order to decompress, I paint how I am feeling. This is the first painting, which I am thinking about using as the jacket art.


You see the eddies in the painting. These represent order in the flow of entropy from order to disorder. The eddies symbolize life.

Stay tuned for more. The next blog will be about Gödel’s Theorem and how biological systems cannot be logical and survive. This is a particularly difficult chapter for me, so bear with me. It will be chapter 2 in the book.

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