The levels that compose biological hierarchies each have their own energetic, spatial and temporal structure. Indeed, it is the discontinuity in energy relationships between levels, as well as the similarity of sub-systems that support them, that permits levels to be defined. In this paper, the temporal structure of living hierarchies, in particular that pertaining to Human society, is examined. Consideration is given to the period defining the lifespan of entities at each level and to a periodic event considered fundamental to (...) the maintenance of that level. The ratio between the duration of these two periods is found to be approximately 2.5 × 104. A similar relationship is found when lower, non-living levels of molecules and atoms are considered. This suggests that there is a constant factor of amplification between analogous periodic events at successive levels of the Human hierarchy. (shrink)
There is a certain measure of perplexity concerning the significance of endopolyploidy. It seems that this results from a narrow frame of reference from which investigators view the phenomenon; that is, a predilection for emphasizing the specialized functional aspect of endopolyploidy as it operates in species at the present time overrides any consideration of the rôle that this state may play in the life of a species in its encounter with the forces of natural selection either in the past or (...) in the future.There does not seem to be any obvious relationship between the degree of endopolyploidy that a species can exhibit and either its basic DNA content or the structure of its nucleus. The significance of endopolyploidy may reside not so much in any specialized function that the condition can support, but rather in the properties that are consequent upon the endopolyploid condition itself and which are distinct from those that apply to diploid cells. Some of the properties of the endopolyploid state, and examples of their manifestation in plants and animals, are discussed. The conclusion is that these properties have a potential that opens possibilities for new paths of development and serves as a factor upon which natural selection can operate. (shrink)
Shepard promotes the important view that evolution constructs cognitive mechanisms that work with internalized aspects of the structure of their environment. But what can this internalization mean? We contrast three views: Shepard's mirrors reflecting the world, Brunswik's lens inferring the world, and Simon's scissors exploiting the world. We argue that Simon's scissors metaphor is more appropriate for higher-order cognitive mechanisms and ask how far it can also be applied to perceptual tasks. [Barlow; Kubovy & Epstein; Shepard].