Go to top
Physics of Life

Biological evolution

Definition  Difficulties in understanding biological evolution  Characteristics of biological evolution 

Difficulties in understanding biological evolution  


Lack of precise definition:

Because a precise, unambiguous definition of biological evolution was not developed until 2009, scientists used used this concept made it sound metaphysical. Some of them, like Robin Dunbar, realized that the process of evolution is "still misunderstood", but did not clearly state how to understand it. Because there was no strict definition of evolution, neither its precise characteristics nor mechanisms could be determined. And without it, the understanding of it was simply impossible.

The most important problem is that, even according to reputable encyclopedias, evolution is a process of slow changes. The more precise ones point out that the changes affect subsequent generations, but others do not even mention it. Indeed, evolution in its essence concerns generational changes, but so far no one has described what initiated it and why.


Multidisciplinary approach:

Life issues cannot be understood by a single scientific discipline, but by several. So far, even in advanced biology textbooks, we do not find any information in the areas of economics, game theory or information theory. And yet these are only some of the disciplines necessary to understand life processes.

Therefore, it is necessary to know a dozen or so disciplines at a fairly advanced level. But, unfortunately, there are no such universities at this time that educate in such a wide spectrum.


Operational dimension:

Biological evolution operates on a huge set of objects and performs an unimaginable number of operations


Estimated number of proteins in a bacteria source


Estimated number of nitrogen base pairs in the human DNA source


Estimated number of proteins in a human cell source


It is estimated that human beings are built from this number of cells. There are approximately 200 cell types. source


Approximate number of atoms in the human body source


estimated number of terrestrial bacteria source


estimated number of nitrogen base pairs in the DNA of all terrestrial organisms source


estimated number of atoms in the Universe source


Approximate maximum number that an average computer can operate source

1·102 000 000 000

In so many ways 4 nitrogen bases can be arranged in 3 000 000 000 elements length sequences, corresponding to the length of the human DNA source

1·10500 000 000 000

It is estimated that during the lifetime of Earth, the genetic material may have been copied so many times from its simplest forms at the beginning to its present forms, e.g. the human genome source

The above table makes us aware of the fundamental difference between the numbers we deal with in relation to matter and in relation to information. On one hand, mathematicians say that an event whose probability is less than 10 -50 will never happen, on the other, they know that events whose probability is 0 occurs. However, we note that to put it purely statistically, nature could have as many as to create such and no other human DNA chain: 10498 000 000 000 attempts.

Obawiam się, że ze względu na liczbę obiektów podległych procesom ewolucyjnym i niewyobrażalną liczbę zmian, do których mogło dojść podczas istnienia Ziemi, nie będziemy w stanie ani wiernie odtworzyć tego procesu w laboratorium ani nawet, z odpowiednią dokładnością, komputerowo zasymulować jego przebiegu. I am afraid that due to the number of objects subjected to evolutionary processes and unimaginable number of changes that could have occurred during the existence of the Earth, we will not be able to faithfully reproduce this process in the laboratory or even, with adequate accuracy, computer simulate its course. Due to Barrier in processing of information we will remain forever in the sphere of suppositions and presumptions. The only thing we can judge is that this and no other process of life on Earth is simply the most likely.

More on the mathematics of evolution.


Complicated characteristics:

I wondered if Galileo would have found a mathematical formula describing the free fall of bodies if it were not so simple equation. If instead of:

h(t) = ½gt2

had a form of, for example:

h(t) = ½gtϖ

I wager that humanity would not have discovered it at the start of the seventeenth century, but much later.

Because biological evolution is such a very complicated process, it is why we do not have a full and unambiguous picture of how it operates.

Biological evolution as a process has 5 characteristics. The first problem with understanding biological evolution that comes from them is that biological evolution does not always improve. It only improves when the selection function is strong enough, otherwise, as Darwin put it,it may return "to a less perfect state". Secondly, if it improves it is done in two, seemingly contradictory directions. It improves tactics aimed at winning conflicts and tactics of cooperation. Collaboration, which also aims to win a conflict, the player is not a single object, but a group of objects cooperating with each other. Thirdly, it has a specific mechanism for reaching a strong selection function based on exponential growth. And because this mechanism is not intuitive, we have difficulty understanding it. Fourthly, the goal of improvement is not simple - it is a complex function composed of various characteristics and tactics. On the most general level, they can be: the ability to acquire resources, the ability to avoid becoming a resource and the characteristics of multiplication. The practical verification of whether this function is appropriate or not does not take place at the level of the individual, but at the level of interacting populations of different species. The simplest model of this issue is the How life is competing model. The fifth problem, though not the least, is the ability of biological evolution to change the properties of elements subjected to it. This ability stems from the Law of comparative advantage, about which the economist and Nobel Laureate, Paul Samuelson (1915-2009) said : That it is logically true need not be argued before a mathematician; that is is not trivial is attested by the thousands of important and intelligent men who have never been able to grasp the doctrine for themselves or to believe it after it was explained to them Well, since this last issue is so difficult to understand, what can we say about biological evolution, whose operation is based not on one but several such issues?

*** Scientists have been arguing for years whether evolution is a "struggle for existence" or, contrarily, "cooperation", and it turns out that it does both simultaneously. Although this simultaneity seems illogical, it is enough to imagine a football tournament and everything becomes clearer. Teams compete against each other and it seems to be "life or death" - the ones who lose are kicked out of the tournament. Of course, the team that competes better wins, but can you fight well if the players do not cooperate with each other as part of a team? Biological evolution is also a kind of tournament, although the rules are more complicated. A tournament in which the winners have the right to replicate on the designs from which they and their relationships were built.

Kolejnym przykładem jest zapadka ewolucyjna. Zapadka zwykle kojarzy się z mechanizmem, który jeśli spełniony jest jakiś warunek to robi coś, na przykład przepuszcza, a jeśli warunek nie jest spełniony to tego nie robi - nie przepuszcza. W ewolucji biologicznej nie jest to tak jednoznaczny mechanizm i nie da się go opisać w kilku zdaniach. Oczywiście przepuszcza on do dalszego powielenia albo i nie, ale warunek, który o tym decyduje nie jest prosty, zależy od bardzo wielu czynników, a co więcej zapadka nie zawsze jest przez niego uruchamiana. Więcej o niuansach działania zapadki ewolucyjnej można znaleźć na stronie Analiza gry w Małą Ewolucję


Autodynamic system:


Time scale of biological evolution:


Defection from the rules:


Cascade nesting:


High perfection of the side-products of biological evolution:




Curse of knowledge:




Common thinking patterns:


Bad narrative and lack of concepts:




Scientific method:






Characteristics of biological evolution  


The ambiguity of improvement 

The first characteristic feature of biological evolution is that beneficial changes are spread in subsequent generations. But this is done under one condition: the selection function must be sufficiently strong. If it is very strong, beneficial changes can immediately dominate the next generation. If it is weak then the following generations may be even worse than the previous ones.
This feature is named the ambiguity of improvement.


The orthogonality of improvement 

The second characteristic feature of biological evolution is the orthogonality of the directions of improvement. The point is that the tactics of structure and tactics of behaviour are being improved, aimed at making the living objects more efficient in competing with each other for resources and multiplication. Alternatively, the groups of living objects or groups of internal elements within the living object, cooperate more efficiently.
This feature is named the orthogonality of improvement.


The speed of coercion for improvement 

The third characteristic feature of biological evolution is the speed with which competition for resources occurs. This competition results in a strong selection process, a result of which subsequent generations are improved.
This feature is named the speed of coercion for improvement.


The complexity of improvement 

The fourth characteristic feature of biological evolution is that it improves subsequent generations of living objects not to be faster, to see better or to be stronger, but in terms of the effectiveness of reaching their general life purpose: absorb then reproduce. From this point of view, all currently living species are now more or less equal. Super intelligent humans, conquering space, pursues the life purpose on more or less the same level as: bacteria, bats, ants, frogs, rattlesnakes, tuna, birches and penguins, and all the rest alive now. Dinosaurs were the most successful up to a point, when they failed.
This feature is named the complexity of improvement.


The ability to differentiate 

The fifth characteristic feature of biological evolution is that it generates new species of living objects on the basis of speciation (more often) or aggregation (less frequently). It can aggregate various elements, including various living objects, into a new, independent WSS-type system, which can be selected as a whole and, in fact, become a new species in subsequent generations. Aggregation gradually leads to the specialization of elements.
This feature is named the ability to differentiate.