Sunday, November 13, 2005


Sometimes things happen that impact your life. The ones which impact mine i remember really well – which is odd, because my memory works very “efficiently”, keeping me young with not too much stuff in mind, shortening the time behind me.

You know Chaperones?

Chaperon: “Traditionally, a chaperon was an older married woman accompanying a woman when men would be present. Her presence was a guarantee of the virtue of the young woman in question”.

Simple presence as guarantee of virtue...

some years ago i read a short article about HSP90, a proteine of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. Only some words telling me, that these heat-shock proteins assist other proteins in achieving proper folding... The reason for this behaviour is that protein folding is severely affected by heat, for example, and therefore chaperones act to counteract the potential damage. By doing so they protect the phenotype of the fruitfly by buffering genetic variation in morphogenetic pathways.

I couldn’t understand that.

A single protein could control the phenotype?

Phenotype: “what an organism looks like as a consequence of its genotype” or Phenotype: “The phenotype of an individual organism is either its total physical appearance and constitution, or a specific manifestation of a trait, such as size or eye color, that varies between individuals.”

How could that be? How could the HSP90 know how the organism of its cell looks like?

Oh yes, sure, it’s simple: The HSP90 controls just the proper folding of important proteins of the fruitfly and when those important proteins are not properly folded, the cell can’t work and the fly would die – or change. In Drosophila, challenging HSP90 function by ... environmental stress can produce a profusion of morphological changes affecting virtually every structure of the fly.

I knew, HSP90 “controls just a starting point” of a chain of reactions...

however, how could the knowledge of the “physical appearance” be stored in a single conglomeration of molecules?

In the mid of the night i got my heureka moment. Suddenly i woke up, finding me sitting up in bed, saying something like “that’s it”.

Knowledge is more than “knowing something”.

The HSP90 “knows” about the phenotype of its organism because of its own “body” – its own body based on electromagnetic fields and the physical interaction of nucleons and electrons creates a dynamical system able to communicate with the “important proteins” to “convince” them of the proper folding just by simple physics, therefore prohibiting...

a chain of events, leading to an unwanted result. Because Drosophila wants to survive, its cells used the little HSP90 because HSP90 knows how to protect what Drosophila preferred to look like - and so Drosophila uses that information.




Wants and wishes. Preferences...

at the level of some molecules and atoms dancing together.

Knowledge can be stored in bodies, information can be used by simple physical interaction, preferences can be fulfilled by possessing the proper structure.

In that night i understood that the memory of the cell first worked “analog”, that HSP90 might be something like the first step of gathering the information about the own body, long before DNA.

At that time i didn’t know what information is – but i bet, without HSP90 i wouldn’t have understood information and information processing systems, because you have to accept, that information can flow at the level of molecules and atoms, that information, knowledge, can be stored in bodies, in material systems.

You have to accept that you didn’t have to know the result if you know the rules – and the initial state.

Information is not something esoteric far beyond physics, is not something complex only manageable by difficult mathematics.

It is basic.

And it is dynamic.


Blogger JasonJ said...

Reading this post and Plants and Animals, I am left wondering if you have ever read a book entitled "The Mind's I" which is written and editted by Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter. If not, I would urge you to read it. While it is written more from a philosopher's point of view than physical scientist's, I think you would find it unusually enlightening, especially the vignettes entitled "Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes" and "Ant Fugue". These are two of my favorite stories in the book.

By the way, been a while since we've talked, sorry about that. I've been rather distracted lately. I hope all is well.

6:45 AM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Again said...

Douglas Hofstadter

i've heard about him because of his book "Gödel, Escher, Bach", but there seem to be some basic differences between our views of life, the universe and everything. AFAIK, Hofstadter argues with mathematics, i argue with physics. The difference? Structure vs. action

"Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes"

Selfish Memes sounds interesting, but regarding Genes? Much too much overestimated. Genes are metadatas, nothing more. So sure, they bear the individuality, but they are also nothing without the engine - they represent information processing systems and so have to be "selfish", have to follow the own goals and rules

been a while since we've talked, sorry about that

nice to have you back

8:47 AM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger JasonJ said...

My point is to open the possibliities. Hofstadter's piece "Ant Fugue" is interesting in the fact that the 'Aunt' or 'Ant' referred to is a colony of ants. The story is narrated by an anteater who claims that he and the 'aunt' are best of friends. It is an analogy about the way some think the collective aspect of our neural networks work in conjunction to form knowledge and ideas.

How is it that a colony of ants without any formal systems of communication can function so well, with each member 'knowing' his own role within the society? Is there a language we just cannot perceive? Is there a chemical interaction that causes each member to stay in line with the master plan of the colony? Is there just happenstance that one watches the random actions of the others and through a process of being hustled back and forth everyone just ends up doing what was intended? Is is GOD? Much like your cat, there is much we can learn from these lower orders of existence.

To paraphrase Dr Hofstadter's conclusions; Is there a collective consciousness of a people? Could there be a collective identity nation to nation? There are serious implications to the answers of these two questions. Perhaps my own national psyche is diseased by our own denial of all our 'evil' deeds that we cannot admit to. Perhaps we are victims of our own psychosis. Perhaps this was the case for your own forefathers 70 some odd years ago. All I am saying is with or without empirical data, I still believe this is worth studying from an anthropological perspective.

12:33 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Again said...

All I am saying is with or without empirical data, I still believe this is worth studying from an anthropological perspective.

sure it is - and what you tell me sounds great

reminds me of the MIT - i've read they experimented with some kind of mechanical mice reacting on light and the goal to move to the light. The mice seemed to behave something like "intelligently", AFAIK

5:42 AM, November 27, 2005  

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