From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the planetary evolution of life & intelligence

From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the planetary evolution of life and intelligence book launch 

The permutation of basic atoms-nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and phosphorusinto the biomolecules DNA and RNA, subsequently evolved in cells and brains, defining the origin of life and intelligence, remains unexplained. Equally the origin of the genetic information and the intertwined nature of 'hardware' and 'software' involved in the evolution of bio-molecules and the cells are shrouded in mystery. This treatise aims at exploring individual and swarm behaviour patterns which potentially hint at as yet unknown biological principles.

It reviews theories of evolution with perspectives from the earth sciences, commencing with the earliest observed records of life. This is followed by reviews and discussion of the building blocks of life, marine and terrestrial communities, the arthropods, birds and finally humans. It is suggested that, further to the mutation/natural selection processes established by Darwin and Wallace, an understanding of the evolution of intelligence remains little understood. A directionality of evolutionary trajectories is evident, not least the purposeful thinking process of humans as well as animals.

It is not clear how directional intelligence, manifested for example by the collective intelligence of arthropod colonies, has evolved from mutation/natural selection processes. Potential clues for the understanding of life and evolution are provided by Aristotle's dictum of "the whole being greater than the sum of the parts", Niels Bohr's principle of quantum complementarity and George Ellis' theory of top-down causality.

Dr Andrew Glikson, an Earth and paleo-climate scientist, graduated at the University of Western Australia. He has conducted geological surveys of the oldest geological formations in Australia, South Africa, India and Canada, studied large asteroid impacts, including effects on the atmosphere and the oceans, the effects of fire on human evolution and the mass extinction of species.

Dr Glikson's book will be launched by Professor Stephen Eggins and Emeritus Professor Stephen Boyden. Professor Eggins is Director of Research School of Earth Science and Professor Boyden is an Emeritus Professor at Fenner School of the Environment and Society.