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- 2.1 - Elements of order in space and in time.

by Denys LÉPINARD

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In the still to come few chapters we will approach and treat system regulations. After some definitions, we will see how they stabilize, both inert and living, matter and how they participate to the unfolding of Evolution.

We start by defining basic tools we will have to use and that I name elements of order in space and in time. They are of four types : the space-orderly states, the time-orderly sequences, the arranging processes and the decisions, to which I add the space and time-disordered states. We will end by definitions of contracted mediums and dilated mediums. We will describe them, explain them and show their main interesting points. Then we will see how they arrange themselves around this particular cybernetic loop which I named ontostat. They will give us a clear required idea for understanding its part in the heart of the evolutionary process.

  1. The space-orderly states.
  2. An orderly state is that of a set of things laid out according to a certain ordering; books placed on the shelves of a bookcase or nucleic bases in DNA. It is stable in time, hence it lasts, and it is often the result of an arranging process.

  3. The time-orderly sequences.
  4. They are of two types :

    - An orderly series of actions.

    It is a series of operations made according to precise tempo and order : following a recipe of cookery, making a product or, for living matter, a protein. Generaly we represent this type of orderly sequences on a graph like diagram 1 : the origin of time is on the left, the horizontal axis on the right is graduated by futur stages of making and the curve shematizes the progress of product realisation.

    - An orderly series of measures.

    An operator makes a series of measures (temperatures, pressures, prices etc..) at regular intervals. Results are carried back on a graph like diagram 2. Time axis is graduated in calendar units and is at the left of the origin. Vertical bars or a broken segment represent the drift of measures. This diagram relates on the past; it evolves by time-axis extension of last elapsed unit at the limit of present. Contrary to the preceding sequence, this continuation of operations is used "to extract" information from the matter. It is wise to note that this calendar order is attached to the solar rhythm and beyond to the whole of the cosmic rhythms.

     
    passé graphique
    Diagram 1Diagram 2

     

  5. The arranging processes.

Arranging processes associate both dimensions, space and time, in a motion towards an order. They are at the origin of space-orderly states and consist in gathering or separating similar or different things according to certain criterions. That gives us four elementary arranging processes : gathering similars, separating differents, separating similars, gathering differents.

  • a) Gathering similars.

    This is the classic process of arranging. When I put in order my office, I set the books in rows in my bookcase, pens in drawers, papers in racks. Also : geological strata are the result of gathering of similar materials during past times ; one salt that forms a precipitate at the bottom of a test tube also performs a process of gathering similars.

  • b) Separating differents.

    When a postman sorts a mail bag, he distributes the letters according to their different destinations.

  • c) Scattering similars.

    If we let a drop of blue ink fall into a water glass, the whole becomes swiftly blue owing to the scattering of similar molecules of ink. This processes are current in natural environment.

  • d) gathering differents.

    If we make fall two drops of ink, one blue and one red, in two differents spots of a vessel already filled with water, the liquid colour in violet : different, blue and red, molecules of ink mixed. Also a scientific can bring together differences of morphology between two closely related species in order to compare them. Another can put together measures made in a same environment at different times.

  1. The decision.

Decision act is to be classed in elements of order since it amounts to modify some of them. If a firm manager takes the decision to renew the making of one of his products, he will intervene on the plans by changing nature and order of instructions to be carried out : he will get spatial order to vary.

Finally, I have to place here :

  1. Space and time-disordered states.

In their connection, we can also talk of disarranging processes since there is motion. Consider a mixing where components can move about, like molecules in a gas or in a liquid. Collisions and shocks occur between them hazardously. They are unforeseeable as much for the spot as for the moment of their supervening. We can qualify that of disorder. This is the general tendency of every system to go to the most likely state, in the sense defined by the second principle of thermodynamics and also that of information loss. Nevertheless such relatively protected environment obeys to large numbers law and evolves slowly. It is possible to have a statistical knowledge of composition, pressure, temperature or other parameters by measuring at regular intervals or in different spots of the whole. A certain, statistical or macroscopic, order superposes or substitutes to the disorder of microscopic unforseable.

Finally :

  1. Contracted mediums and dilated mediums.
  • The contracted mediums.

  • These mediums are rendered such by constraining operations, gathering similars or differents; space is divided, time is structured in orderly sequences. Certain tasks only are autorised, those in the direction of the current action. Freedom is weak.

  • The dilated mediums.

  • These mediums are producted by scattering operations towards space and time-disordered states. Things in those mediums dispose of a maximum freedom.

    Human (and biological) activity passes alternatively from one of these mediums to another, as if it was submitted to a dilation / compression wave. We will take that again with more details at the following page.

    1. Characteristics and interests of elements of order.

      a) They exist and can be described in both fundamental dimensions that are space and time.

      b) They can be executed in numerous circumstances and with very varied means. As we have seen, Nature can scatter as well as gather similars. Living matter, man, one computer.. also carry out readily this type of operation whith varied means : filters, membranes, gradients of speed or concentration, electronic circuits etc..

      c) Space-orderly states, arranging processes and time-orderly sequences, if they are executed in a precise order, can be essential elements of regulation buckles. We will see the application at the following page, it will be the ontostat.

      d) Finally, as they appear at all organisation levels, they become tools for analysing and comparing phenomena. Putting together is made easier by their status of "elements". When we say : an operator gathers needfull components before making a product, or a cell gathers amino acids before making proteins in ribozome, we indicate a tenuous but clear way of bringing together different processes independently of means used by these systems and beyond their organisation levels.

    At the present time Science cruelly lacks of such a tool offering, from elementary processes, one same approach of living and no living matter phenomena. That is perhaps the reason of the sheer gap we place between these two domains.
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