Broadcast 3457 Dr. Paul Davies

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Guest: Dr. Paul Davies:  Topic:  We discussed his new book, "The Demon In The Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Solving the Mystery of Life,", the question of what is life, New Physics, space exploration and much more.

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We welcomed Dr. Paul Davies back to the show to discuss his new book, "The Demon In The Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Solving the Mystery of Life."  We also  talked about New Physics, consciousness, searching for life in the solar system and much more.  I started our one segment 64 minute program by asking our guest for an overview of the book and how he came up with the name, "The Demon In The Machine."  Much of our discussion did related to the chapters in his book, plus the history of trying to answer the question of what is life.  Dr. Davies referenced the work of many well known and highly respected scientists from earlier times such as James Clerk Maxwell plus many others.  The historical overview provided by Dr. Davies was most interesting and informative.

Dr. Davies told us about his early life and interest in finding out what life was or is or the meaning of life. He said it reminded him of magic but he did not believe in magic so he realized at some point there would need to be New Physics.  I asked him several questions about his definition of New Physics since this term has come up on many different Space Show programs over the years, especially by those with fringe ideas all over the board saying one had to have New Physics to understand and validate their ideas and theories.  Dr. Davies was very clear with us as to the meaning of New Physics and how he was using the term to describe not only a big part of his new book but also his research.  Note what he said about advanced propulsion when I mentioned earlier Space Show guests with pretty far out propulsion ideas based on New Physics.  His response might surprise you.  In discussing this subject, Dr. Davies several times mentioned the work of James Clerk Maxwell and Erwin Schrodinger among others.

In talking about New Physics, quantum mechanics and DNA were discussed as was information and what was meant by information.  Don't miss Paul's commentary on information systems, living matter, quantum fields and the differences with classical physics though for now classical physics tools are the research tools though that will likely give way to quantum tools and computers in the future.  As part of this discussion, the subject of thermal dynamic equilibrium came up along with the differences and complexities of open systems as compared to a closed system.  This is another part of the discussion you want to be sure to hear in total. 

Listeners sent in many email questions.  Todd asked about the chapter in his book titled "Darwinism 2.0," wanting to know what he actually meant by the title and formulating a question based on the usual understanding of Darwin's work that most of us studied in school.  Our guest had much to say on Darwinism as he used it in the book and research so do pay attention.  In discussing this subject, our guest brought up the work of Dr. Michael Levin and the Levin Lab at Tufts University, in particular his worm research and experiments.   Dr. Levin works on complex pattern formation so our guest used this and some of his experiments, even on the ISS in microgravity, to look at information separately from genes.  Listen to his full explanation as it was an important part of our overall discussion.  As part of this discussion, our guest talked about WW2, Alan Turing and his work in logic and self-replicating systems.  At this point, he talked about the difference in hardware and software and the software approach to working on an answer for what is life.

In addressing hardware and software, a listener asked about quantum computers.  Another listener asked about using this work to look for solutions to diseases.  As it turns out, Paul works on cancer research so he had much to say about cancer research and the approach he was talking to us about and documented in his book.  Listen to what he said about cancer being a software type of problem, maybe needing a reboot to fix a bug like we do with computers.  He suggested something like this might be realized 10-20 years in the future. 

Ft. Worth John called to talk about information theory, math, and physics.  Paul talked about his being a theoretical physicists using math, plus information theory.  Paul used an example citing a noisy telephone line problem.  He also referred back to thermal dynamic equilibrium in this discussion with John.  John referenced the work of Sir Roger Penrose regarding New Physics and consciousness.  Our guest had much to say on this topic so don't miss it.

We received an email from a listener who had read Paul's book, asked a question about bird navigation with birds being able to see Earth magnetic grid lines.  Paul talked at length about bird navigation, their eye structure, and the possibility that some migratory birds that fly thousands of miles over the ocean without a problem might see Earth's grid lines for navigation help.  This was a fascinating discussion so don't miss it. 

Before we ended the program, BJohn from Sweden sent in a note about the origin of the universe, life, and consciousness.  Paul responded to BJohn referencing patterns of information and neuro-networks.  Our guest then concluded our discussion by adding in more about space and searching for life in our solar system.  He talked about Titan, Enceladus and then once again equated the search for life to information flows and software.

Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Davies on our blog for this show.  You can reach Dr. Davies through me or his Arizona State University faculty page. Remember, if you buy his book from Amazon, please use the OGLF/Space Show Amazon link on our home page so that Amazon will donate a percentage of the purchase price to OGLF.  We appreciate that help on your part. 

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Dr. Davies will discuss his new book, "The Demon In The Machine" and more from cosmology and physics

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07 Feb 2020 Dr. Paul Davies
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