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struggling from 1660 to 1860 (Boyle to Cannizario), scientists finally puzzled out the nature of chemistry: interactions between 96 different kinds of discrete atoms, and energy.
from 1834 to 1859 Darwin began the first hypothesis of how a creative problem solving system could come about through the iterated interactions of many simple parts throught time (Evolution by heredity, variation and natural selection).
Beginning with the turn of the century Physics came to the aide of biology bringing the tools of x-ray diffraction, using radioisotopes to mark atoms in molecules and.. spawned the explosion of knowlege in molecular biology, culminating in Max Delbruck spurring on the work that led to the discovery of how DNA works. Finally we learn that the simplest living cells are in fact whole CITIES of 1000s of kinds of interacting molecular robots with complicated dynamic patterns.
Around WWII physicists and mathematicians (Von neuman) came together and created the incredible explosion in our ability to create our own complex systems called computers.
Physicists and chemists have slowly learned (Carnot to Prigogene) that simple energy flow through homogenous fluids and chemistry can create discrete stable structures and dynamic chemical cycles
mathematicians starting with Poincare at the turn of the century and then Smale, in the 1960s discovered how simple iterated equations can result in complex behavior even determinitstic chaos.
mathematicians and computer scientists (Ulam and Von Neuman again) discovered so late in human history, the 1970s, the rediculously simple cellular automata with simple rules of local interactions that can create complex patterns from scratch.
computer scientists have begun to explore what it would take to write computer programs to simulate intelligence, become intelligent.
Culminating in biology and computer science coming together in Tom Ray's invention of Tierra: a simple operating system in which a random soup of computer instructions can evolve into creative ecosystems of reproducing programs. [but can it evolve an ecosystem more complex than the original operating system? that's the question!!!]