reductionism and Nutrition

In his 1972 paper “More is different”, Philip Anderson claimed that the behaviour of multi-component physical systems may cannot be understood from the laws that govern their component or microscopic parts – known as emergent or complex behaviour. This idea of Andersons is different form that of Stephen Hawking, who believes that when all fundamental laws of the Universe a are understood, we will in principle be able to explain all macroscopic phenomena. Writing in Physica D, Gu and colleagues describe a physical system that o cannot be easily ‘reduced and of the developing symbiosis between theoretical physics and computer science”, a:
In discussing ‘the understandable’, Stephen Wolfram” looked at the relation between a: computation and the unfolding of the physical world. He defined as reducible those systems for which there is a logic or computational shortcut that allows their behaviour to be efficiently predicted rather than reproduced step by step. For example, the motion of a simple pendulum is described by a cosine function that can be computed using a rapidly converging mathematical series, rather than simulating each and every pendulum oscillation. But such short cuts do not usually exist for chaotic systems, g. for example.
Wolfram also pointed out that many systems are irreducible, but among them only a few are undecidable: that is they have properties that cannot be formally calculated. Undecidability is a property of universal computers or Turing machines, Macs, PCs and DNA computers all of which have unlimited memory . And this is where the notion of ‘different’ (or complex) systems can be made more precise – those with undecidable global properties despite having well-understood local (microscopic) governing laws.
That is that the global properties are different to the component properties.
The same thoughts could well be applied to many current problems in Nutrition
Binder 2009-10-08 The edge of reductionism Nature vol 459 pp 332-334

Martin Eastwood
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