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Six Essays on the Principle of Creation and
the Global Acceleration Crisis

Our universe startet from just one idea, i.e. diversitiy 1, or “university”. The subsequent evolution of complexity – through elementary particles, astrophysical structures, life and human culture up to the realms of ideas – can be described as a process of self-organisation of matter in space and time: In the abundant stream of free energy (ultimately springing from the big bang), and with the unavoidable fluctuations, the world or some of its sub-systems seem always likely to find more complex and more viable attractors in their “space of possibilities”.

In a spatially finite system like a planet, however, an intrinsic crisis is built into this principle of creation: The speed of innovation itself has a selective advantage an will, therefore, at some epoch reach a critical value defined by “essentisl change within the life-time of the leading structures”. Then, the conditions of creation are violated and an instability becomes manifestin an accelerated loss of complexity – not only in those leading structures themselves, but even at their roots. Is collapse inevitable? Or are we likely to organize sufficient self-constrains of what we call our freedom?

Peter Kafka, astrophysicist (Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Garching/Germany) usually published in German. Only occasionally some essays have been written in English.

»The considerable redundancy in this compilation of original versions might be attributed to the wish of being understood in spite of the clumsiness of expression in a foreign language. However, the author must confess that he speaks with equal redundancy in his own language – like all preachers do in their sermons if they believe in their own ideas but know that they are far from being generally accepted.« (Peter Kafka)

On the world’s ends (1976)

The ideas of this essay developed since 1968 in occasional talks about cosmology and evolution to various audiences. It was written in early 1976 at the request of the editors of “The Encyclopedia of Ignorance”, a book which collected articles about open questions and speculative ideas in various branches of science. I was supposed to write about the future of the physical universe. Since I didn’t stick to my theme, the editors wanted to publish only the first two thirds of the manuscript. So, I withdrew it. Copies were, however, widely spread among parts of the astrophysical community and the general public – particularly among people interested in the question of extraterrestrial life. Later, it was printed in Munich Social Science Review 1978/2, 91-99. – When Freeman Dyson spent a year (1977/78) as a guest of the Max-Planck-Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, we had many lunch-discussions on similar topics. He then dug deeply into relevant fundamental problems of physics, biology and information theory and published an excellent comprehensive review of his findings: F. J. Dyson, Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe. Reviews of Modern Physics, Vol. 51, No 3, July 1979, 447-460.

Time and Complexity (1989)

This text was presented in a workshop which had been organized at the Ringberg-Castle, Tegernsee, May 28 – 31, 1989 in honour of the 60th birthdays of Friedrich Meyer and Jürgen Ehlers, members of the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics, to which the author is affiliated, too. It appeared originally in: Proceedings of the Workshop on Gravitation, Magneto-Convection and Accretion (B. Schmidt, H.-U. Schmidt, H.-C. Thomas eds.), MPI für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 1, D - 85704 Garching bei München.

The Intrinsic Limit to the Speed of Innovation
and its Relevance for the Question “Where are They?” (1990)

This paper was based on a talk at the 3rd International Symposium on Bioastronomy held at Val Cenis (Savoie, France), 18-23 June 1990. It was printed in the proceedings: Bioastronomy – The Search for Extraterrestrial Life (J. Heidmann, M.J. Klein Eds.), Springer-Verlag, Berlin 1991. The question “where are they?” (referring to the missing traces of other technologically developed “civilizations” which might be expected in a galaxy with billions of solar-type stars) is often attributed to Enrico Fermi. The acronym SETI is used for the current radioastronomical programs which search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Ethics from Science? (1990)

This text was distributed as a “non-official contribution” among the participants of the “Workshop on Bioscience and Society”, Berlin, November 25-30, 1990, organized by Silke Bernhard in the style of her “Dahlem Conferences” for the company Schering AG at the 100th anniversary of their first research laboratory. I had to act there as the moderator of discussion-group 2 (“Does bioscience threaten ecological integrity?”), and I wanted to provoke the participants a bit more than the official papers which had been distributed as a basis for the discussions. Partially, the unpublished text was used in a short summary report, which I had to present to the final panel. This appeared in Schering Foundation Workshop 2 – Round Table Discussion on Bioscience and Society (J. J. Cherfas, Ed.) Springer-Verlag, Berlin 1991.

Conditions of Creation. The Invisible Hand and the Global Acceleration Crisis (1991)

The following text appeared in: Entropy and Bioeconomics, Proceedings of the First International Conference of the European Association for Bioeconomic Studies (E.A.B.S.), J. C. Dragàn, E. K. Seifert, M. C. Demetrescu eds., published by NAGARD, Rome 1993. ISBN 88-85010-11-3. It was written a few months after a free presentation at that conference (Rome, 28-30 November 1991), which took place in honour of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s 85th birthday. I had been asked to talk about entropy, but I wanted to go a bit beyond and not only touch on the question of “how to organize limits to growth” but also mention an essential point of the answer – the necessary “de-subsidization of capital” and the introduction of a TAT instead of VAT – i.e. the replacement of “value-added tax” by “trashiness-added tax”…

What is Beauty? On the System Theory of Creation (1993/94)

A presentation of the following ideas had been planned for a Conference of physicists, philosophers and theologians in Venice (December 17/18, 1993) which took place under the title The Beauty of the Universe within the series Venice Conferences on Cosmology and Philosophy. I could not participate because of illness, but nearly a year later I wrote this version for the proceedings. The Original is unpublished. – An Italian translation by Alberto Bragaglia appeared as: “CHE COS’È LA BELLEZZA? – SULLA TEORIA SISTEMICA DELLA CREAZIONE” in: La bellezza dell’Universo (Eds. F. Bertola, M. Calvani, U. Curi, M. Donà). Il Poligrafo, Padova 1996 (ISBN 88-7115-057-0), pp. 43-83, (PDF).

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