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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Earth Life Emerge
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VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Ecosmocene CoCreativity

1. Mind Over Matter and Energy: Quantum, Atomic, Chemical Connectomics

Louie, Steven, et al. Discovering and Understanding Materials through Computation. Nature Materials. June, 2021. UC Berkeley, Stanford and Yale researchers introduce and embellish this leading edge approach by which to mathematically conjure substantial creations. Two titles are Electronic Structure Methods for Materials Design and Mesoscopic and Multiscale Modelling. See also The Rise of Intelligent Matter by Steven Louie, et al in Nature (594/345, 2021). So herewith is another manifest instance of our Earthuman acumen beginning to initiate a new natural cocreativity.

Materials modelling and design using computational quantum and classical approaches has become well established as an essential pillar in condensed matter physics, chemistry and materials science research. The 21st century has witnessed steady advances by which to understand and predict the ground-state, excited-state and dynamical properties of materials from molecules to nanoscopic/mesoscopic scale to larger dimensional systems. The four entries in this Perspective give a brief overview, as well as some future challenges and opportunities. (Abstract excerpt)

Lu, Ziaobo, et al. Superconductors, Orbital Magnets, and Correlated States in Magic Angle Bilayer Graphene. arXiv:1903.06513. Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, UT Austin, National Institute for Material Science, Japan, and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing condensed matter physicists tap into nature’s seemingly endless array of material properties for human benefit and creative avail. Companion entries are With a Simple Twist, “Magic” Material is Now the Big Thing in Physics by David Freedman in Quanta Magazine, (April 30, 2019), and Unconventional Supercondictivity in Magic-Angle Graphene Superlattices in Nature (556/43, 2018).

Superconductivity often occurs close to broken-symmetry parent states and is especially common in doped magnetic insulators. When twisted close to a magic relative orientation angle near 1 degree, bilayer graphene has flat moire superlattice minibands that have emerged as a rich and highly tunable source of strong correlation physics, notably the appearance of superconductivity close to interaction-induced insulating states. Here we report on the fabrication of bilayer graphene devices with exceptionally uniform twist angles. Our study shows that symmetry-broken states, interaction driven insulators, and superconducting domes are common across the entire moire flat bands, including near charge neutrality. (Abstract excerpt)

Luisi, Pier Luigi and Cristiano Chiarabelli, eds. Chemical Synthetic Biology. New York: Wiley, 2011. A table of contents and sample first chapter are available on the publisher’s book webpage. Four parts cover Nucleic Acids, Peptides and Proteins, Complex Systems, and General Problems. Dr. Luisi introduces, and a typical chapter is “Synthetic Genetic Codes as the Basis of Synthetic Life” by J. Tze-Fei Wong and Hong Xue

Chemistry plays a very important role in the emerging field of synthetic biology. In particular, chemical synthetic biology is concerned with the synthesis of chemical structures, such as proteins, that do not exist in nature. With contributions from leading international experts, Chemical Synthetic Biology shows how chemistry underpins synthetic biology. The book is an essential guide to this fascinating new field, and will find a place on the bookshelves of researchers and students working in synthetic chemistry, synthetic and molecular biology, bioengineering, systems biology, computational genomics, and bioinformatics. (Publisher)

Makey, Ghaith, et al. Universality of Dissipative Self-Assembly from Quantum Dots to Human Cells. Nature Physics. 16/7, 2020. A 15 member project at the National Nanotechnology Research Center and Institute of Materials Science, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey well quantifies nature’s deep autocatalytic, self-organizing propensities from quantum to organic cellularity. These constant processes across a wide domain is then seen to express a universal repetition in kind. The work merited a review Dissipate Your Way to Self-Assembly by Gili Bisker (Tel Aviv University) in the same issue. So at the same while that the Hagia Sophia (holy wisdom) is reverting back to a mosque, Turkish scientists, whose achievement is praised by a Jewish woman, contribute and look forward to a new common creation.

An important goal of self-assembly research is to develop a general methodology applicable to almost any material, from the smallest to the largest scales, whereby qualitatively identical results are obtained independently of initial conditions, size, shape and function of the constituents. Here, we introduce a dissipative self-assembly methodology demonstrated on a diverse spectrum of materials, from simple, passive, identical quantum dots (a few hundred atoms) that experience extreme Brownian motion, to complex, active, non-identical human cells (~1017 atoms) with sophisticated internal dynamics. Autocatalytic growth curves of the self-assembled aggregates are shown to scale identically, and interface fluctuations of growing aggregates obey the universal Tracy–Widom law. (Abstract)

Marcovich, Anne and Terry Shinn. Toward a New Dimension: Exploring the Nanoscale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. An update introduction to these microscape frontiers of physical and biological co-creation. In a section entitled Life as a Dynamic Lego Game, in accord with a nature that “tinkers” by trying out many candidates, a program is proposed to include and balance both selective effects along with an intentional engineering design.

Marelli, Benedetto, et al. Programming Function into Mechanical Forms by Directed Assembly of Silk Bulk Materials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114/451, 2017. An eight member team of Tufts University biomedical, chemical, and electrical engineers quantify how these exemplary fabrics have been formed by nature, and then go on to discuss their novel, intentional advance and use. The work merited a report in the same issue as When Bottom-Up Meets Top Down by the Israeli chemists Zvi Shtein and Oded Shoseyov where this evolutionary passage of natural materiality onto humanly creative intention is given notice.

We report simple, water-based fabrication methods based on protein self-assembly to generate 3D silk fibroin bulk materials that can be easily hybridized with water-soluble molecules to obtain multiple solid formats with predesigned functions. Controlling self-assembly leads to robust, machinable formats that exhibit thermoplastic behavior consenting material reshaping at the nanoscale, microscale, and macroscale. We illustrate the versatility of the approach by realizing demonstrator devices where large silk monoliths can be generated, polished, and reshaped into functional mechanical components that can be nanopatterned, embed optical function, heated on demand in response to infrared light, or can visualize mechanical failure through colorimetric chemistries embedded in the assembled (bulk) protein matrix. Finally, we show an enzyme-loaded solid mechanical part, illustrating the ability to incorporate biological function within the bulk material with possible utility for sustained release in robust, programmably shapeable mechanical formats. (Abstract)

Markovic, Danijela and Julie Grolier. Quantum Neuromorphic Computing. arXiv:2006.15111. We note this entry by CNRS, University of Paris-Saclay physicists as an instance of a 2020s hyper-synthesis by an effective integration of deep physical and active cerebral qualities. See also Physics for Neuromorphic Computing by the authors and colleagues in Nature Reviews Physics (2/499, 2020).

Quantum neuromorphic computing physically implements neural networks in brain-inspired quantum hardware so to speed up their computation. In this perspective article, we show that this emerging paradigm could make best use of existing and near future intermediate size quantum computers. Some approaches are based on parametrized quantum circuits, and use neural network-inspired algorithms to train them. Other approaches, closer to classical neuromorphic computing, take advantage of the physical properties of quantum oscillator assemblies to mimic neurons and compute. (Abstract)

Over the past years, quantum and neuromorphic computing have emerged as two leading visions for the future of computation. Quantum computing makes use of intrinsic properties such as entanglement and superposition to design algorithms that are faster than classical ones. Neuromorphic computing gets inspiration from the brain and uses complex ensembles of artificial neurons and synapses to mimic animal intelligence and calculate faster with low energy consumption. In this article we review convergences between these two fields, and on the experimental implementations of neuromorphic computing on quantum hardware. (1)

McCarthy, Wil. Hacking Matter. New York: Basic Books, 2003. A technology writer extols the seemingly unlimited potentials to redesign, create and “program” the subatomic basis of nature, by which endeavor humankind might take over the material creation of the universe.

Mehr, Hessam, et al. A Universal System for Digitization and Automatic Execution of the Chemical Synthesis Literature. Science. 370/101, 2020. As our collective human acumen begins to take up and over a new material creation, aka synthetic chemistry, University of Glasgow chemists including Leroy Cronin describe how language-based computational methods can enhance and speed up the process. The project involves both the detection of current natural forms, along with finding and making novel compositions for a better life and planet.

Robotic systems for chemical synthesis are growing in popularity but can be difficult to run and maintain because of the lack of a standard operating system or capacity for access to the literature through natural language processing. Here we describe an extendable chemical execution architecture that can be informed by automatically reading the literature so to achieve a universal autonomous workflow. We showcase automated syntheses of 12 compounds from the literature, including the analgesic lidocaine, the Dess-Martin periodinane oxidation reagent, and the fluorinating agent AlkylFluor. (Abstract)

Moeini, Samaneh and Tie Jun Cui. Reflective Metasurfaces: Fractal Coding Metamaterials. Annalen der Physik. 531/2, 2019. University of Aveiro, Portugal and Southeast University, Nanking, China informatic engineers (a global team posts in a German periodical) discern and deftly apply nature’s self-similar mathematics to create a novel realm of visionary surfaces.

Editor’s Note In article number 1800134, Samaneh Moeini and Tie Jun Cui propose a concept of fractal coding metamaterials, which can be used to design reflective metasurfaces with self‐similar pseudo‐random phase responses. The introduced coding strategy utilizes fractal interpolation functions. An analytical relation between the reflection phase distribution and the far‐field radiation pattern is derived.

Moore, Katharine, et al. Universal Characteristics of Chemical Synthesis and Property Optimization. Chemical Science. 2/417, 2011. As the Abstract conveys, in this Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Princeton University mathematical chemists including Alex Pechen and Jason Dominy press the frontiers of 2010s new material creations. See also Why is Chemical Synthesis and Property Optimization Easier than Expected? by this group in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (13/10048, 2011).

A common goal in chemistry is to optimize a synthesis yield or the properties of a synthesis product by searching over a suitable set of variables (e.g., reagents, solvents, reaction temperature, etc.). Synthesis and property optimizations are regularly performed, yet simple reasoning implies that meeting these goals should be exceedingly difficult due to the large numbers of possible variable combinations that may be tested. This paper resolves this conundrum by showing that the explanation lies in the inherent attractive topology of the fitness landscape specifying the synthesis yield or property value as a function of the variables. Under simple physical assumptions, the landscape is shown to contain no suboptimal local extrema that could act as traps on the way to the optimal outcome. The literature contains broad evidence supporting this “OptiChem” theory. OptiChem theory implies that increasing the number of variables employed should result in more efficient and effective optimization, contrary to intuition. (Abstract)

Naam, Ramez. The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2013. The Egyptian-American computer scientist and futurist tracks the course of history by an ever growing social, public information repository, good for survival and prosperity. The “Tragedy of the Commons” whence consumption out ran supplies is to be countered by a nascent “Knowledge Commons.” Into the 21st century, as megacities take on a guise as dynamic organisms, the locus of learning decisively shifts to a composite worldwide phase. Indeed, a vectorial learning capacity and acquisition could be seen to well define the arc of evolution and humanity as a grand endeavor of self-education, counter to wasteful entropies. As a result, if we might become mindful together, our future destinies will much depend on our own common, informed choice.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The opening line of Charles Dickens’ 1859 masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities applies equally well to our present era. We live in unprecedented wealth and comfort, with capabilities undreamt of in previous ages. WE live in a world facing unprecedented global risks – risks to our continued prosperity, to our survival, and to the health of our planet itself. We might think of our current situation as A Tale of Two Earths. (Preface)

This is a story about these two conflicting realities of our present day. The core argument of this book is that the force that’s propelled us to our present well-being is also the most powerful resource we have to tackle our future challenges: innovation. If we tap into and direct that force correctly, we have the very real potential to lift global wealth and well-being while reducing our impact on the planet and even reversing the damage we’ve done. If we fail to tap into that force, we flirt with the very real prospect of disaster. (Preface)

The whole world is becoming a city now. The technology of the Internet, mobile phones, and a million spinoffs of that are networking us all together. We’re drawing more connections, exchanging more insights, innovations, and information, Minds are the source of wealth and innovation. But their production isn’t linear. It scales with the number and quality of connections. And so, the more minds we have – educated minds, empowered minds, interconnected minds – the more each produces. (291) Our planet is like a giant living brain. Each mind added to it is a neuron. Each connection between those minds is a synapse. As we grow larger, we grow denser in connections, and so we grow smarter, more able to innovate, at rates faster than we consume. (291)

The human mind is the ultimate source of all wealth. We stand poised on the brink of the largest-ever explosion of human mental power, a second Renaissance, more transformative, more far-reaching, and more inclusive that the first. If we make the right choices to empower humans minds and encourage innovation, to steer innovation toward the solutions for our planet’s problems, and to embrace the fruits that it offers, then the future will be one of almost unimaginable wealth, health, and well-being. (308)

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