Month: September 2020

Entropy | Special Issue : Complexity and Evolution

The understanding of evolutionary processes is one the most important issues of scientific enquiry of this century. Scientific thinking in twentieth century witnessed the overwhelming power of the evolutionary paradigm. It not only solidified the foundations of diverse areas such as cell biology, ecology, and economics, but also fostered the development of several mathematical and computational tools to model and simulate how evolutionary processes take place.

Besides the application of the evolutionary paradigm and the discovery of the evolutionary features for diverse processes, there is another interesting aspect which touches upon the emergence of novel evolutionary processes. Generally, the emergence of an evolutionary process requires a complex transition between a prior form where no evolutionary process is undergoing and a posterior form where the evolutionary process has been triggered. Most advanced methods to understand the emergence of evolutionary processes require the consideration of systemic features such as self-organization, resilience, and contextuality, among others.


The hysteresis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Julius Garbe, Torsten Albrecht, Anders Levermann, Jonathan F. Donges & Ricarda Winkelmann 
Nature volume 585, pages538–544(2020)


More than half of Earth’s freshwater resources are held by the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which thus represents by far the largest potential source for global sea-level rise under future warming conditions1. Its long-term stability determines the fate of our coastal cities and cultural heritage. Feedbacks between ice, atmosphere, ocean, and the solid Earth give rise to potential nonlinearities in its response to temperature changes. So far, we are lacking a comprehensive stability analysis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet for different amounts of global warming. Here we show that the Antarctic Ice Sheet exhibits a multitude of temperature thresholds beyond which ice loss is irreversible. Consistent with palaeodata2 we find, using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model3,4,5, that at global warming levels around 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, West Antarctica is committed to long-term partial collapse owing to the marine ice-sheet instability. Between 6 and 9 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, the loss of more than 70 per cent of the present-day ice volume is triggered, mainly caused by the surface elevation feedback. At more than 10 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, Antarctica is committed to become virtually ice-free. The ice sheet’s temperature sensitivity is 1.3 metres of sea-level equivalent per degree of warming up to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, almost doubling to 2.4 metres per degree of warming between 2 and 6 degrees and increasing to about 10 metres per degree of warming between 6 and 9 degrees. Each of these thresholds gives rise to hysteresis behaviour: that is, the currently observed ice-sheet configuration is not regained even if temperatures are reversed to present-day levels. In particular, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet does not regrow to its modern extent until temperatures are at least one degree Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels. Our results show that if the Paris Agreement is not met, Antarctica’s long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically increase and exceed that of all other sources.


A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird

Andreas Nieder, Lysann Wagener, Paul Rinnert

Science  25 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6511, pp. 1626-1629
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1447


Subjective experiences that can be consciously accessed and reported are associated with the cerebral cortex. Whether sensory consciousness can also arise from differently organized brains that lack a layered cerebral cortex, such as the bird brain, remains unknown. We show that single-neuron responses in the pallial endbrain of crows performing a visual detection task correlate with the birds’ perception about stimulus presence or absence and argue that this is an empirical marker of avian consciousness. Neuronal activity follows a temporal two-stage process in which the first activity component mainly reflects physical stimulus intensity, whereas the later component predicts the crows’ perceptual reports. These results suggest that the neural foundations that allow sensory consciousness arose either before the emergence of mammals or independently in at least the avian lineage and do not necessarily require a cerebral cortex.


A Dialogue Concerning the Essence and Role of Information in the World System

Mark Burgin and Jaime F. Cárdenas-García

Information 2020, 11(9), 406


The goal of this paper is to represent two approaches to the phenomenon of information, explicating its nature and essence. In this context, Mark Burgin demonstrates how the general theory of information (GTI) describes and elucidates the phenomenon of information by explaining the axiomatic foundations for information studies and presenting the comprising mathematical theory of information. The perspective promoted by Jaime F. Cárdenas-García is based on Gregory Bateson’s description of information as “difference which makes a difference” and involves the process of info-autopoiesis as a sensory commensurable, self-referential feedback process.