Information Basis of Life

The notion about the information nature of life is generally accepted. At the same time, even the term 'information' is interpreted in biological literature in various ways. Starting from the classical works of the founders of the information theory, C. Shannon (1948) and J. von Neumann (1951), different directions of the generalization of the term were proposed.

Concerning the information character of internal biological processes, a reasonable approach is based on I. I. Shmalhausen's views (1968) about the resonance nature of biological information. Most of the relations between elements in biological systems are based on special resonance organization of living objects. Very often, an energetically weak influence of one element on another one produces its powerful reaction. This interaction cannot be interpreted as pure energetic; we call it 'information interaction'. In this context, information cannot be transmitted; it is a relation between two elements. There is connection between exergy as the object's energy with relation to its surrounding and the possibility of the object to realize information actions.

For realization of an information action, the initial influence (signal) must exceed some critical value: 'excitability threshold' or 'reobase'. For example, the maximal tension of cell electric discharge is 0.1 V; its reobase is 10% of this value. Sporadic resonance effects take place in inanimate nature too, but for living matter it is its basis; there are special mechanisms of energy charging for the creation of prerequisites for resonance (information) action. From the level of cells, there are extremely complex structures of signal relations, separated from processes of energy and matter transmission. In multi-cellular organisms and ecosystems, special information subsystems were originated. They influence each other by means of special media (substances and fields), bearing precisely signal character. Special systems of coding and decoding become more and more sophisticated. Information is the main instrument in all homeostatic processes; it is the main way to organize negative feedbacks in living systems.

Physically, the resonance is realization of potential energy; mathematically the same is bifurcation, nonlinear effect of steady-state (attractor) change. One can interpret information processes in a living system as a sequence of 'internal bifurcation'. As life is an information process, it exists near separatrixes, divided areas of steady states' attraction in the space of system parameters. It is a mathematical illustration of life's fragility: directed small changes of system critical parameters can easily upset its dynamic equilibrium.

Quite often, the concept of information is used in biological literature for designation of a measure of living matter ordering. In this case, information is the opposition to entropy, something like Schrodinger's negentropy. In the course of life development, its information content gradually grows. The philosophic question about the origin of information in the universe is still open. There are two main opinions: either the Big Bang in the result of a symmetry breach created all existing information and it is gradually sowing up, or its quantity equaled zero at the beginning and it is in the process of permanent growth. In the second case, the information creation is bound with Darwinian natural selection. According to G. Kastler ''the information creation is storage of random selection.'' It happened also in the inanimate nature, but became much more intensive in the living one. The history of the universe is characterized by exponential growth of information.

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