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Re: online discussion on complexity research and paleontology



From:
When Physicists Tried to Explain Evolution, Biologists Cried Foul
By RICHARD MONASTERSKY

http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i35/35a01601.htm

...Mr. Plotnick and Mr. Sepkoski (who cowrote a first draft of the paper
before he died in 1999) ['Roy E. Plotnick, a professor of earth and
environmental studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the late
J. John Sepkoski Jr., of the University of Chicago'] presented a new
theoretical model to explain the pattern of evolution. Instead of
self-organized criticality ['Per Bak, the physicist who first recognized
this phenomenon, known as S.O.C., explains it as "the idea that things do
not happen gradually and smoothly but abruptly, in terms of avalanches."'] ,
they envision something more like Murder on the Orient Express. Major bouts
of extinction happen, they suggest, when life gets assaulted by many
problems that compound each other's power.

New discoveries are happening all the time.
Unless SOC is arguing that equations cause extinctions, this seems at first
glance like a rediscovery of punctuated equilibrium.