The environment impacts human health in profound ways, yet few theories define the form of the relationship between human physiology and the environment. It is conjectured that such complex systems cannot interact directly, but rather their interaction requires the formation of an intermediary “interface.” This position contrasts with current epidemiological constructs of causation, which implicitly assume that two complex systems transfer information directly while remaining separate entities. Further, it is contended that dynamic, process‐based interfaces incorporate components from all the interacting (...) systems but exhibit operational independence. This property has many consequences, the foremost being that characteristics of the interface cannot be fully resolved by only studying the systems involved in the interaction. The interface itself must be the subject of inquiry. Without refocusing the attention on biodynamic interfaces, how the environment impacts health cannot be discerned. Also see the video abstract here https://youtu.be/XeyjeZeyo4o. (shrink)
Different cell lineages growing in microgravity undergo a spontaneous transition leading to the emergence of two distinct phenotypes. By returning these populations in a normal gravitational field, the two phenotypes collapse, recovering their original configuration. In this review, we hypothesize that, once the gravitational constraint is removed, the system freely explores its phenotypic space, while, when in a gravitational field, cells are “constrained” to adopt only one favored configuration. We suggest that the genome allows for a wide range of “possibilities” (...) but it is unable per se to choose among them: the emergence of a specific phenotype is enabled by physical constraints that drive the system toward a preferred solution. These findings may help in understanding how cells and tissues behave in both development and cancer. In microgravity, cells undergo spontaneous and reversible transitions between different phenotypes. In the absence of physical constraints, living systems could yield bi-stable decisions. On the contrary, physical ‘boundaries’ constrain cells to acquire only a specific configuration by selecting and shaping different gene expression patterns provided by the intrinsic genetic stochasticity. (shrink)
Graphical AbstractWe can, for example, understand intimately how the human endocrine systems works, and likewise the chemical nature of compounds present in our environment; but the result of the interaction cannot be deduced from any simple combination of the two knowledge sets: it's not the interacting entities that we should be studying, but the process that creates the phenomena that we witness as a result of this interaction. This is the “biodynamic interface” to which Manish Arora, Alessandro Giuliani and Paul (...) Curtin refer in their article in this issue, and it is a conceptual structure that comes into being upon interaction of entities: a new way to study interactions in complex systems and better understand emergent phenomena. (shrink)
Studies performed in absence of gravitational constraint show that a living system is unable to choose between two different phenotypes, thus leading cells to segregate into different, alternative stable states. This finding demonstrates that the genotype does not determine by itself the phenotype but requires additional, physical constraints to finalize cell differentiation. Constraints belong to two classes: holonomic (independent of the system's dynamical states, as being established by the space‐time geometry of the field) and non‐holonomic (modified during those biological processes (...) to which they contribute in shaping). This latter kind of “constraints”, in which dynamics works on the constraint to recreate them, have emerged as critical determinants of self‐organizing systems, by manifesting a “closure of constraints.” Overall, the constraints act by harnessing the “randomness” represented by the simultaneous presence of equiprobable events restraining the system within one attractor. These results cast doubt on the mainstream scientific concept and call for a better understanding of causation in cell biology. (shrink)
In the XVIIth century the conflict which opposed the jansenists to the jesuits involved the problem of the due process in theological matter. The jesuits heralded the thesis that the infallibility of the Church has to be extended from dogmatics (‘quaestio iuris’) to the historical facts (‘quaestio facti’). On the opposite side Arnauld maintained that such an opinion was ‘monstruous’: also in religious matters the ‘fact’ has to be proved according to the principles of a due process, and not by (...) authority. In this article the thesis pleaded by the jansenists is considered in connection with the model of argumentative procedure offered by the Port-Royal logic.The Logique ou Art de penser (1622) by Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole seems to have rediscovered the classical principles of the theory of argumentation: from the burden of proof to the idea of probable truth. But really a new model of adversary-system has been introduced into the modern mind, which is very different in concept from the topical tradition. The basic metaphor of combat, implying that the truth will prevail in the fight, is compatible with the epistemological premises of the modern logic (as the separation between ‘fact’ and ‘value’). Therefore the problem of the fact-finding seems to be attracted into the area of the logic of information, and not of the theory of argumentation. (shrink)
The analogy between science and theater work is so strict as to be normally taken for granted without the need of further specification. This implies that the analogy is completely ignored. Here I try to go in depth into the character of this analogy and to demonstrate how stopping and thinking about this issue could give some useful hints for solving problems that contemporary science is experiencing.