Is it time to update textbooks? Scientists reveal the missing evolutionary law in nature

Is it time to update textbooks?  Scientists reveal the missing evolutionary law in nature

This scene of “mountains” and “valleys” dotted with twinkling stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. It was captured in infrared by the James Webb Space Telescope.


In the ever-evolving fabric of human knowledge and scientific discovery, occasional leaps occur that redefine our understanding of the natural world. This important step could be here, encapsulated in a groundbreaking research paper that reveals what scientists boldly call “the missing law of nature”!

The newly conceived law recognizes, for the first time, an important criterion in the workings of the natural world. In essence, it states that complex natural systems evolve into states of greater pattern, diversity, and complexity. In other words, evolution is not limited to life on Earth, but also occurs in other very complex systems, from planets and stars to atoms, minerals, and more.

The intellectual architects of this revolutionary shift consisted of a diverse group of nine scholars. This gathering, which spans the prestigious halls of the Carnegie Institution for Science, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Cornell University, unites the rigor of scientists, astrobiologists, data scientists, mineralogists and theoretical physicists, along with the philosophical acumen of thinkers from around the world. University of Colorado.

Evolution: a common feature of complex systems in the natural world

This pioneering concept adds a new chapter to the annals of science, introducing a macroscopic law – a law of nature that describes and explains the phenomena we witness in the everyday natural world. In doing so, it recognizes evolution as a common thread that weaves through the complex fabric of complex natural systems.

First, these complex systems are characterized by:

  • It is made up of many different components that can be repeatedly arranged and rearranged (such as atoms, molecules, or cells)
  • They are subject to natural processes that cause a myriad of different arrangements to form
  • Only a small portion of all these formations survive in a process called “selection for employment.”

Regardless of whether a system is living or nonliving, evolution occurs when a new configuration works well and its function improves.

Dr. Michael L. said: “In this new paper, we consider evolution in the broadest sense — change over time — which includes Darwinian evolution based on ‘descent with modification’ details,” said Wong, an astrobiologist at Carnegie University and first author of the study.

“The universe generates new combinations of atoms, molecules, cells, etc. These stable combinations that can continue to generate more newness will continue to evolve. This makes life the most obvious example of evolution, but evolution is everywhere.

The new “Law of Increasing Functional Information” states that a system will evolve “if many different configurations of the system undergo selection for one or more functions.” Central to this new natural law is the concept of “selection for function.”

Selection for the job

In the world of biology, Charles Darwin equated function with the essence of survival, that is, the ability to live long enough to produce fertile offspring. The new study expands this perspective by recognizing that nature operates at least three types of basic functions.

Stability, which is the primary function, ensures that stable arrangements of atoms or molecules remain. But nature also supports dynamic systems fueled by continuous energy supplies. However, the most interesting of these functions is novelty, that is, the tendency of evolving systems to constantly explore new configurations that sometimes lead to surprising new behaviors or properties.

These new characteristics play an essential role in the evolutionary journey, as life constantly adapts and diversifies. From the advent of photosynthesis when single cells harnessed light energy to the evolution of multicellular organisms like us and complex behaviors like swimming, walking, flying, and thinking, nature has repeatedly rewarded innovations.

But evolution is not limited to the biological sphere. It extends to the mineral kingdom as well. Earth’s minerals, which initially numbered about 20 at the dawn of our solar system, have now grown to nearly 6,000. The evolution of minerals is intertwined with the evolution of life as well, with life using minerals in shells, teeth and bones. In general, this amazing diversity is the result of complex physical, chemical and biological processes that occurred over 4.5 billion years.

Moving beyond our planet, this profound natural law also has implications in the universe. While the birth of stars began with just two basic elements, hydrogen and helium, early stars used these basic elements to form heavier chemical elements. Subsequent generations of stars in turn built on this newfound diversity, giving rise to nearly 100 elements in the periodic table.

This universal law of evolution redefines our perception of nature. He emphasizes that the process of evolution extends beyond the boundaries of life, reaching the molecular and atomic structures that form the foundation of our existence. It has brought us closer to understanding the complex forces that shape our world, reaffirming that evolution is the common thread that weaves through the fabric of the universe, linking all aspects of existence.

This paper was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences It can be accessed here.


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