Hi Mike Levine
What do you make of the following?
You wrote: ""The only perfectly closed system we are aware of is the universe taken as a whole."
I excerpted this from David Kiersey's article at
http://users.viawest.net/~keirsey/pofdisstruct.html Especially interesting is the second paragraph. It suggests to me that a closed system may be formed in another layer which may be distinct from physics -- biological evolution.
"The only perfectly closed system we are aware of is the universe taken as a whole."
"Ilya Prigogine [ Prigogine84, 97] has put forward that dissipative structures do not obey Boltzmann's order principle, because a dissipative structure is not in equilibrium. Moreover, one must admit that the universe is not in equilibrium, it is forever changing: "evolving" as it were. This observation is key to understanding how the "evolution" of the our universe and its embedded structures will proceed. The century old hypothesis of "heat death" of the universe, based on the second law of thermodynamics is no longer the most reasonable scenario because it appears that the universe is a non-equilibrium structure [Smolin97]. It is not clear, what the universe is "dissipating" but in some sense you can imagine it "dissipating" time.
Although biology is more "historical" (this is, dependent on properties of earth's evolution) than physics (dependent on the properties of the universe's evolution) and some of the "laws" of evolution may have different "parameters" in some other "life" supporting planet; nevertheless, there are still "laws" of evolution that are not currently understood, and the general form of the "laws" are most likely to be applicable for all life in the universe. But Gould's main point is valid: that biology is not just complex physics. That is, the concepts, methods, and techniques of physics cannot be directly applied without very judicious understanding of the process structure of biology. Rosen's detailed analysis elucidates the theoretical limits of the current physical theories such as current cosmological theories and computational approaches, typified by fractals, artificial life, and chaos theory. He points out physics can benefit from metaphors in living systems just as well as biology as has used metaphors from physics and chemistry.”
P.S. Dr. Ilya Prigogine died May 28http://www.utexas.edu/admin/opa/news/03newsreleases/nr_200305/nr_prigogine030528.html
That was cute about the "eight year old" messsage. It happens I often rebut ideas of reincarnation with the idea that I don't feel I'm quite the same person I was when I was eight years old in this life.