Carbono em Wiener (1989 [1950])

Quantum theory has led, for our purposes, to a new [39] association of energy and information. A crude form of this association occurs in the theories of line noise in a telephone circuit or an amplifier. Such background noise may be shown to be unavoidable, as it depends on the discrete character of the electrons which carry the current; and yet it has a definite power of destroying information. The circuit therefore demands a certain amount of communication power in order that the message may not be swamped by its own energy. More fundamental than this example is the fact that light itself has an atomic structure, and that light of a given frequency is radiated in lumps which are known as light quanta, which have a determined energy dependent on that frequency. Thus there can be no radiation of less energy than a single light quantum. The transfer of information cannot take place without a certain expenditure of energy, so that there is no sharp boundary between energetic coupling and informational coupling. Nevertheless, for most practical purposes, a light quantum is a very small thing; and the amount of energy transfer which is necessary for an effective informational coupling is quite small. It follows that in considering such a local process as the growth of a tree or of a human being, which depends directly or indirectly on radiation from the sun, an enormous local decrease in entropy may be associated with quite a moderate energy transfer. This is one of the fundamental facts of biology; and in particular of the theory of photosynthesis, or of the chemical process by which a plant is enabled to use the sun’s rays to form starch, and other complicated chemicals necessary for life, out of the water and the carbon dioxide of the air. (Wiener 1989 [1950]:38-9)

Notice that the same tubules carry by diffusion the good air in and the spent air, polluted with carbon dioxide, out to the surface. In a diffusion mechanism, the time of diffusion varies not as the length of the tube, but as the square of the length. Thus, in general, the efficiency of this system tends to fall off very rapidly with the size of the animal, and falls below the point of survival for an animal of any considerable size. So not only is the insect structurally incapable of a firstrate memory, he is also structurally incapable of an effective size. (Wiener 1989 [1950]:56)

Let us then admit that the idea that one might conceivably travel by telegraph, in addition to traveling by train or airplane, is not intrinsically absurd, far as it may be from realization. The difficulties are, of course, enormous. It is possible to evaluate something like the amount of significant information conveyed by all the genes in a germ cell, and thereby to determine the amount of hereditary information, as compared with learned information, that a human being possesses. In order for this message to be significant at all, it must convey at least as much information as an entire set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact if we compare the number of asymmetric carbon atoms in all the molecules of a germ cell with the number of dots and dashes needed to code the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find that they constitute an even more enormous message; and this is still more impressive when we realize what the conditions for telegraphic transmission of such a message must be. Any scanning of the human organism must be a probe going through all its parts, and will, accordingly, tend to destroy the tissue on its way. To hold an organism stable while part of it is being slowly destroyed, with the intention of re-creating it out of other material elsewhere, involves a lowering of its degree of activity, which in most cases would destroy life in the tissue. (Wiener 1989 [1950]:103)

WIENER, Norbert. 1989 [1950]. The human use of human beings: cybernetics and society. London: Free Association Books.