The so-called “new synthesis” of the theory of evolution has never had the least predictive power, but neither has any descriptive power, and like cosmology, it has been used mostly as a narrative complement for normative physical laws unable to connect with the real world and the real time in the most decisive sense.
To alleviate the evident limitations of a theory that only through phantasy can have some contact with natural forms —and let us not underestimate the power of fantasy in this instance-, evolution has been combined with the perspective of biological development (evo-devo), and even with ecology (eco-evo-devo), but even then it has not been possible to create a moderately unitary framework to describe problems such as the emergence, maturation, aging and death of organized beings.
There is no need to call all this by any other name than evolution without further ado, since the present theory has only taken over the name to deal with speculative and remote issues, rather than with close and fully approachable problems.
What determines the aging and death of individual organisms and societies? This is a real evolution problem that takes us closer to the real time.
Astrophysicist Eric Chaisson has observed that the energy rate density is a much more decisive and unequivocal measure for complexity metrics and evolution than the various uses of the concept of entropy, and his arguments are fairly straightforward and convincing . In any case it would be desirable to include this quantity in a context better articulated with other physical principles.
Georgiev et al. have attempted to do so by establishing a feedback loop between this energy flow, the physical principle of minimum action understood as efficiency or as movement along paths with less curvature or restriction, and a quantitative principle of maximum action; that is, with the “metabolic” energy flow per mass mediating between efficiency and size, applying it experimentally to CPUs as organized flow systems . When these flow-efficiency-size vertices are connected in a positive feedback loop, an exponential growth of all three is produced and power-law relations between them arise. Although this model admits many improvements and can be illustrated in very different ways, it seems on the right track.
Since the basic problem of aging is the increasing restriction and the inability to overcome it, and any theory not addressing this fundamental issue cannot make a dent in the subject. Another way of saying the same is that organic aging is the increasing inability to eliminate. Aging is irreversibility, and irreversibility is the increasing incapacity to be an open system.
Let us think a bit about this. Something as basic and elementary in physics as the principle of least action is capable of telling us something absolutely essential about aging: to understand the real value of this we only have to know how to apply global measurements in the context of open systems with a variable use of the available free energy.
The theoretical advance in this field is infinitely more feasible than in the modern synthesis and infinitely more relevant, since here it is no longer a question of species, but of the destiny and individual evolution of any spontaneous organization, be it a vortex or a soliton, a human being or a civilization; to a large extent it affects even the Lamarckian evolution of machines and computers with a definite design and purpose.
The energy rate density is a measurable, unambiguous quantity, profoundly significant from a cosmic perspective, and can also have a bearing on bringing down to earth unmanageable entropy criteria. Naturally, the flow-curvature-size criterion can be contrasted with the flow-curvature-entropy criterion, whether the latter is maximum or not.
This threefold flow density-curvature-size criterion can be applied fruitfully to contexts where flow is the decisive factor, be it in strongly quantitative models like the monetary flows, or in purely qualitative models of vortices evolving between expansion and contraction such as the one proposed by Venis. It can be applied even to the circle of individual destiny, suggesting a clock of its evolution, which in today’s terminology many would call an aging clock.