Jeremy England’s Theory of Evolution Explains Snowflakes to Bitcoin
Darwin explained how life evolves, but he didn’t explain how complex non-living things evolve, nor how life emerged in the first place.
Now, a young physicist at MIT named Jeremy England has published a paper that explains how the force of life is… dissipating heat.
His theory helps to explains everything from snowflakes to flowers to humans to bitcoin and makes the origin of life “as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.”
Living things are exceptional in that they have feedback systems to keep them running… and that they dissipate heat.
Darwin uses reproduction to explain evolution of life forms,
England uses heat dissipation to explain evolution in general.
The Technical Details
England begins his mathematical Voyage of the Beagle with a premise: a particle is bombarded by energy. The particle can rearrange into two possible structures, which absorb energy … and dissipate heat differently. Through statistical analysis, England shows that the rearrangement ‘chosen’ by the particles will be the one that dissipates heat faster. From there, England derives ‘equation (8)':
Term by term analysis of equation (8): “the structures that are most likely to form are products of competing pressures to fall to lower internal energy, to further increase heat dissipation through work absorption, and to dissipate that heat as reliably as possible.”
I translate this to mean:
The universe re-arranges to increase its metabolism.
Most experts agree that England’s theoretical results are valid. Tests are currently being designed on both living and non-living systems to provide supporting evidence, (or to prove England wrong.) England himself is now developing computer simulations to test his theory.
England’s theory supports Darwin’s theory from below: plants that absorb more sunlight grow higher. Animals that eat more food grow stronger. However, England’s theory applies to a much greater set of phenomena, even replication itself. England states: “A great way of dissipating more heat is to make more copies of yourself.”
The theory is supported empirically by the increasing metabolic rates of systems across history, from stars to planets to plants to animals to humans to machines.
The rate at which heat is dissipated by the sun is great, but relative to system mass, a blade of grass is greater. But the metabolic rate of grass is far less than that of reptiles, who appear much later in the timeline of history. The fastest metabolic rates continued to increase with the appearance of warm-blooded mammals and then birds. Flowers, which appeared later than the first birds, allowed the hummingbird to evolve, which is the animal with the greatest known metabolic rate.
But perhaps the most effective way to dissipate heat is by thinking (also known as information processing.) Most mammals devote less than 5% of total energy to their brain. For humans, that number is 25%.
The metabolic changes we’ve seen in machines is roughly the same as that of animals, it’s just happening much faster. Cold-blooded bicycles give off heat, but not as much as warm-blooded automobiles. Computer chips give off less heat than cars, but due to their low mass, their metabolic rate is much higher. Computer chips are the human equivalent of the machine world.
Humans and animals seem to have a natural drive to be active; to metabolize. Could computer chips be propelled by the same fundamental force? In 2009, a small group of people started buying retired computer chips used by gamers. Although the gaming chips used lots of electricity, they were able to be profitably used to build a database called the Bitcoin blockchain. Despite opposition from some of the most powerful authorities in the world, bitcoin has grown exponentially, and the chips used to build it continue to increase in both efficiency and metabolic rate. Bitcoin now uses about as much electricity as the entire country of Ireland.
Is Jeremy England’s theory of evolution guiding bitcoin? Only time will tell. But it is interesting to note that England uses the word irreversible seven times in his paper. What is a bitcoin transaction? An irreversible ledger entry in a globally distributed database.