The Oransky Journal

Interesting stuff that doesn't fit on Embargo Watch or Retraction Watch

Epistemological rupture? Release about paper claiming to explain origin of life disappears

with 2 comments

Yesterday on Twitter, Sarah Kavassalis pointed me in the direction of a paper that seemed to befuddle her. Published last month in the journal Life by Case Western’s Erik D. Andrulis, “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life” purports to solve “the puzzle of the origin and evolution of cellular life in the universe.”

The paper is 105 pages, which includes a whopping 800 references. It depends heavily on the gyre:

In the theory proposed herein, I use the heterodox yet simple gyre—a spiral, vortex, whorl, or similar circular pattern—as a core model for understanding life. Because many elements of the gyre model (gyromodel) are alien, I introduce neologisms and important terms in bold italics to identify them; a theoretical lexicon is presented in Table 1. The central idea of this theory is that all physical reality, stretching from the so-called inanimate into the animate realm and from micro- to meso- to macrocosmic scales, can be interpreted and modeled as manifestations of a single geometric entity, the gyre.

Andrulis concludes:

…this catholic theory provides an innovative and elegant solution to the origin, evolution, and nature of life in the cosmos. I humbly proffer my theory as a viable system for knowing life.

Our humble author also includes paragraphs like this, which led some on Twitter to wonder if the paper was for real:

The philosopher Bachelard claimed that scientific history is replete with unconsciously constructed or immanent “epistemological obstacles,” that are eventually broken through and shed during “epistemological rupture [796].” I conclude that my theoretical work elicits a Bachelardian rupture of intradisciplinary noöspheres and interdisciplinary boundaries. Kuhn proposed a related concept of “paradigm shift” to explain the process surrounding worldview conversion during a scientific revolution [797]. Whether the advent of this theory elicits a Kuhnian gestalt switch is debatable, though such an iconoclastic event has been foretold [798-800].

Case Western put out a press release about the study yesterday, but the one on their site was either taken down or suffered a technical problem sometime today. I’ve asked the press office, and Andrulis, what happened to it, and will update with anything I learn.

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Posted in regular

2 Responses

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  1. This could be important, Ivan. Is there any turning, or better yet, perneing in the gyre? Maybe he’s channeling W.B. Yeats!

    Sailing to Byzantium
    O sages standing in God’s holy fire
    As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
    Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
    And be the singing-masters of my soul.
    Consume my heart away; sick with desire
    And fastened to a dying animal
    It knows not what it is; and gather me
    Into the artifice of eternity. …

    The Second Coming
    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. …

    The Gyres
    The gyres! the gyres! Old Rocky Face, look forth;
    Things thought too long can be no longer thought,
    For beauty dies of beauty, worth of worth,
    And ancient lineaments are blotted out. …

    Or, then again, maybe not.


    January 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm

  2. It hasn’t disappeared. I saved my copy when it was first published. I had a funny feeling about it.

    Paul A. Thompson

    March 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

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