An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Author: anautonomousagent (Page 1 of 73)

Order Out of Chaos – Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers

A little bit of quantum physics, chemistry, biology and philosophy all rolled up into one important book. Order Out of Chaos (La Nouvelle Alliance as originally published in French) by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers is a paradigm changing book. The first parts of the book are an excellent overview on the historical development of science – the evolution of dynamics and the discovery of thermodynamics and their relationship is particularly fascinating.

Once the reader gets to the later parts, it becomes somewhat abstract and the reader may not be able to get through it without a background in chemistry and physics. Chapter Nine, when the phrase “Order Out of Chaos” is developed, is difficult. Despite this, it is much more accessible than a scientific paper on the subject. It may take two or three reads to fully absorb the ideas presented. Overall it is one of my favorite reads.

Some important conclusions from the book:

  • The arrow of time objectively exists and it arises from non-equilibrium and irreversibility at the microscopic level.
  • The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be understood as a selection principal. It operates as a negative on allowable initial conditions, in other words it restricts systems with certain initial conditions from existing.
  • Time travel to the past is not allowed by thermodynamics because time reversal requires infinite information concerning the initial conditions of the system, an impossibility to an observer in the universe. This implies that information is closely connected to irreversibility and time.
  • Thermodynamics can be expressed from dynamics through the idea of correlations and internal-time operators. Thus, dynamics has been extended once again (general relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory).
  • The universe as a whole is in a non-equilibrium state and it is an irreversible process with pockets of reversible dynamics.
  • In general, one of the goals of the authors is to make dynamics and thermodynamics consistent with each other.

Hidden Forces – Interview Series

Hidden Forces, hosted by Demetri Kofinas is an nice set of interviews with various people on topics including: finance, complexity, mathematics, and cryptocurrencies. I struggled listening to some of the interviewees because I did not agree with their ideas or conclusions; but I guess it is good to have conflicting opinions in order to encourage debate in the comments and to help review one’s own opinions and understandings. Regardless, Kofinas provides a highly accessible medium through which advanced ideas can be grasped.

I first ran across Hidden Forces while listening to the interview with Ray Monk about philosophical mathematics. Monk’s narration on the work of Frege, Russell, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, and Gödel is excellent – by far one of the clearest and easiest to grasp. It was learning about these paradigms and paradoxes of mathematics via Hofstadter’s famous book which led me to start this website.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters – Gary Zukav

Gary Zukav’s book, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, simply describes (without math) quantum physics and relativity since their inception at the beginning of the 20th century. Zukav skillfully presents the paradoxes and questions posed and asked by some of the smartest people in history including Einstein, Bohr, Born, Heisenberg, von Neumann, Feynman, etc… He carefully elucidates the evolution of the answers to these paradoxes and questions.

There are numerous analogies with eastern cosmologies which may help readers understand the wild results and conclusions of modern physics. The book is perfect for those without a strong background in the quantitative sciences who wish to understand what quantum physics reveals about the universe. Although dated, (1979) it is inspirational and should get readers excited about reading more up to date books.

Endocannabinoid System

Posted here are three great lectures on cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System in the human body. The first lecture, by Dr. Robert Melamede is my favorite. Melamede frequently references Ilya Prigogine’s work and provides an understanding of the Endocannabinoid system based on a “far from equilibrium” perspective. For the more physics and math inclined readers, this is a wonderful connection.

Dr. Robert Melamede – Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System in Health and Disease – Dr. Ethan Russo

Quick summary:

  • Endocannabinoid System composed of three components: 1) endocannabinoids, 2) CB1, CB2 and TRPV1 receptors, and 3) regulatory enzymes
  • CB1 is the most abundant G-protein-coupled receptor in the brain
  • Cannabinoids modulate how fast things move through the gut!
  • CB1 is the “psychoactive receptor” and CB2 is the immunomodulatory receptor
  • CBs 10-fold more potent than morphine in WDR neurons mediating pain
  • All humans have a baseline Endocannabinoid System, influenced by genetics or some life event; in some people the system becomes deficient – disease and other issues arise in the body
  • Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED)
  • THC notoriously increases appetite, why aren’t users more often obese? THC alters the microfloral balance in gut, prevents weight gain
  • Cannabis very effective in Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine info at 41 min
  • Migraine related to CED

Cannabis and Cannabinoids – Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather

Quick summary:

  • Compared to the flower: oils, edibles and other extracts lose many of the cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Cannabis is an adaptogen – can give you whatever your body needs to regain its homeostasis
  • CBDs with THC works optimally, together it gives a greater than additive effect, i.e. better than consuming each individually; plant flower and all it contains is overall better than the extracts
  • At 1 hour and 2 min in the lecture, entire list of cancers which exhibit cannabinoid sensitivity and in many cases the tumor goes away with cannabinoid treatment

PiKHAL: A Chemical Love Story and TiHKAL: The Continuation – Alexander and Ann Shulgin

Let me provide a context so that you may understand my amazement with the chemical explorations of Alexander Shulgin. Did you know that the two principal neurotransmitters in the human body are dopamine and serotonin? Did you know that they belong to the phenethylamine and tryptamine chemical families, respectively? I find this simple observation to be of fundamental importance in understanding the human mind/body relationship. And now consider that Ann and Alex Shulgins’ books: PiKHAL (Phenethylamines I have known and loved) and TiKHAL (Tryptamines I have known and loved) explore both these chemical families and their effects on the human mind and body. Quick summary of well-known psychedelic chemicals:

Phenethylamines Tryptamines
Dopamine Serotonin
Mescaline DMT
MDA Psilocybin
MDMA Psilocin
2C Family Ibogaine

LSD is complex and has both chemical structures, but most people emphasize that the effects of LSD are related primarily to its tryptamine backbone and interaction with human serotonin receptors.

Ann and Alexander Shulgin’s books are a groundbreaking revelation for their accounts of psychedelic exploration, therapy, and spiritual development. They are a mix of essays and stories. You will not regret reading the books and learning about the chemicals referenced in the second half of the books.

An interesting note: In PiKHAL, the fictional character Adam Fisher is based on Leo Zeff, a talented psychotherapist who worked with MDMA; you can read all about his therapy work in The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron J. Stolaroff.

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