August 27, 2004

Tongues in Trees, Books in the Running Brooks, Sermons in Stones, and the Eightfold Way of Particle Physics in Cellular Automata

Normallly, when cranks claim cellular automata explain the universe, they do not mean that they contain hidden messages about particle physics (with transcription errors).

Joel D. Isaacson, "Steganogramic representation of the baryon octet in cellular automata", in the proceedings of the 2001 meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences [PDF]
Abstract: Simple computations, such as those performed by one-dimensional cellular automata (CAs), are known to produce unexpected complexity in many instances. Many people experimenting with CAs in the last twenty years or so are prone to suggesting, mostly on intuitive grounds, that hiding among the vast number of possible CAs are a few simple ones that may very well be "ultimate models for the universe." In this report I show how a simple cellular automaton unexpectedly encodes the baryon octet of elementary particle physics. In ref. 3, I discussed the relevance of the instant CA to elementary processes of visual perception, and in ref. 4 this CA was linked to dialectical processes. The confluence of such diverse models in one trivial computation is unexpected and intriguing. I submit that something very fundamental is unfolding here and respectfully invite from readers critical evaluation of my findings.

The idea that the secrets of particle physics are encoded in cellular automata is, if that's possible, even stupider than the Torah Code superstition, which it somewhat resembles, because it's at least not inconceivable that Someone manipulated an otherwise arbitrary string of Hebrew characters to conceal Their message. Isaacson is obviously very sincere, but also obviously a complete crackpot.

I propose that, at a minimum, when attempting to perceive but a single speck of something, we mentally activate a process that is similar to fig. 2. Now, (as if by Leibnitzian pre-established harmony) this very act of elementary perception turns out to subsume a steganogramic representation of elementary particles at the quark level, albeit without awareness thereof. My conjecture then is that acts of elementary perception involve mental, or abstract, structures that are remarkably similar to the most fundamental structures that our science ascribes to matter at the quark level; which is very close to saying that here and now we are pointed in the direction of an intersection between mind and matter, in the context of this simple and innocuous cellular automaton.

Of course, in fairness to Isaacson, it should be pointed out that most of the papers presented at that conference seem to be the work of crackpots.

(Via an Australian correspondent, who shall remain anonymous.)


Posted at August 27, 2004 09:18 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth