The Universal Metric Applied to Biology
…Can anyone doubt to-day that all the millions of
individuals and all the innumerable types and characters
constitute an entity, a unit? Though free to think and act,
we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with
ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can
Within biology, we find extraordinary expressions of symmetry.
While nature has created such great diversity in species, there are common threads that tie together all species together in strange and unexpected ways. Why do so many animals take 21 seconds to urinate? Why do all mammals pass through similar morphological, anatomical shapes on their way from conception to birth? Moreover, why is it that no matter what lifespan or weight of a mammal, individuals of any species die after approximately 1.5 billion heartbeats? The mass between a bacterium and a blue whale changes by a factor of 1020 but surprisingly, all of these creatures share a fundamental number of common properties. Even though nature gave rise to increasing complexity, all of these animals follow fundamental laws, which are physiological invariants that span a diverse range of life forms. The new 6D mathematics is extremely useful in predicting these changes.
One of these emergent invariant laws is that when 6D flat spacetime is projected to 4D spacetime, it is called Kleiber’s Law, which states that an animal’s metabolic rate scales to the 3/4 power of the animal’s mass. It’s not a perfect law, but many animal species seem to follow it. Other interesting invariant patterns not only apply to individual members of a species but also to groups of such individuals. Some organisms live in colonies in which the division of labor is so specialized that individuals cannot survive by themselves for extended periods. These organisms are called eusocial, and the collective is called a superorganism. The term was coined in 1789 by the father of geology,
James Hutton and variously incarnated in the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, and the biosphere theory of Guy Murchie and Vladimir Vernadsky. In the 18th century, political philosopher Thomas Hobbes was one of the first to popularize a human version of the superorganism in his classic, Leviathan. In the 19th century, Herbert Spencer coined the closely related term super-organic to focus on social organization in a sociological context. More recently in 2008, E.O. Wilson and Bert Holldobler popularized the term in their 2008 book “The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies.” It is mostly in this context that superorganisms have been studied ever since. Insect colonies notably display eusocial behavior, and individuals of a species live much of their lives engaging in social behavior that resembles specific functions of multicellular organisms. This similarity goes beyond metaphor, however. The close resemblance to internal organs, combined with the ease of manipulation of colonies, has inspired scientists to design experiments that resolve outstanding problems of multicellular organisms using insect colonies. These superorganism colonies appear to have their behavior, life, and even types of death.
Fire ants are one example of how invariant symmetry applies to a larger scale. Individual fire ants cannot survive by themselves; each plays a specific role to serve the colony. For instance, some harvest food while others tend to the newborns, and they all need a queen to produce offspring for the entire colony. There are social structures and hierarchies, a division of labor into specialized functions such as resource production, task-based specialization, and “drones” being controlled by managers and queens. When faced with an existential threat, such as their nest flooding, the entire colony springs into action, each member fulfilling its unique role to defend the queen through an intricate and collective dance. Upwards of half a million worker ants will instinctively surround their queen and her eggs, linking arms and forming a floating raft with their waxy bodies, creating pockets of air for buoyancy to keep the queen alive. Such social responses are innate, suggesting that higher level social functions are coded into their genes, and direct their collective behavior as a superorganism when triggered by environmental conditions. Thus, individual actions can be looked at as a symmetrical, invariant piece of the whole.
From insect populations, scientists and thinkers have begun to generalize the superorganism concept in many other directions. The more we look in nature, the more we see superorganisms everywhere, especially at a microbial scale. The brain can be considered a superorganism. It consists of relatively simply neurons, but when networked together, highly complex behavior emerges. One hot area of research sees multicellular organisms such as us as superorganisms composed of trillions of different microbe populations.
“For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON- WEALTH, or STATE, which is but an Artificial Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which, the Sovereignty is an Artificial Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body”
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