Re: poly: Re: polymath digest for 06/12/97

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Mon Dec 08 1997 - 15:46:09 PST

David Brin writes:
>(2) Bear in mind that complex ecosystems act to prevent prairie fire
>reproduction orgies. But such ecosystems are not in place at the beginning.
>When a virgin enthalpy source begins being exploited for the first time,
>the opportunistic species may breed spasmodically, use everyting up, and
>leave a wasteland behind, Wild swings of population may occur until
>predation and other limiters talke hold. ...

Anders S. comments:
>Life seems to move towards self-organized criticality in the long run,
>but it would be interesting to study the known cases of transients
>when it starts far from it.

Unfortunately, life on earth is more robust in the sense that life has
only been able so far to squander the flow of sunlight, and the stored
resources embodied in other life, but hasn't been able to touch the stock
embodied in the sun. Future transients could use up most of the mass &
energy stock, leaving little for later ecosystems to manage better.
Post-transient life could have to make do with extracting very slow
energy resources, such as dispersed gravitational potential energy, as
Carl F. described.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Mon Dec 8 23:40:21 1997

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