Arthur S. Iberall

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  • Soodak, H. and A.S. Iberall. Homeokinetics: A physical science for complex systems. Science, 201: 579, 1978.
  • Iberall, A.S. and H. Soodak. Physical basis for complex systems--Some propositions relating levels of organization. Collective Phenomena ,3:9-24, 1978.

Arthur Iberall, HoET: Encyclopedia of Human Thermodynamics, Human Chemistry, and Human Physics, Genius: 140+ IQ certainly fits for Iberall


course of study

Homeokinetics site

Yates on Iberall's Reynold's number

see Harry Soodak

[ Springer Publications by Arthur S. Iberall

Iberall, Wilkenson and White, Foundations for Social & Biological Evolution

A. Iberall and D. Wilkinson. 1984. Human sociogeophysics — Phase I: Explaining the macroscopic patterns of man on earth. GeoJournal 8(2): 171-179

A. Iberall and D. Wilkinson. 1984. Human sociogeophysics — Phase II the difussion of human ethnicity by remixing. GeoJournal 9(4): 387-391.

A. Iberall and D. White. 1988. Evidence for a long term process scale for social change in modern man settled in place via agriculture and engaged in trade and war GeoJournal 17(3): 311-338.

Arthur Iberall, David Wilkenson and Douglas White. 1994. Foundations for Social & Biological Evolution.

Comments on Ibby by Gene Yates


Good question, of course. The answer may come out of the next round of discaussion among us. I'm working on it.

Ibby (with input from Llinas and McCulloch who, separately, influenced him strongly) had a few big ideas relevant to our topic:

1) That the reticular activating system was a mode switcher for the 20 (he said) behavioral modes humans had. (Mammals in general have about 10.) He named the modes in his usual graceless English, and I re-named them to make them comprehensible, and often lectured about them.

2) Cycles are (necessarily - for thermodynamic, balance- the -books requirements) the basic mode of temporal expression of the modes. That is, most of the modes are regularly recurrent, and a "personality" is defined largely by the set of transition probabilities among them. I extended this notion - but won't go into it now.

3) The present moment (i.e., "now") is a system update driven by sensory inputs. What's up? Am I OK? etc etc. The present moment lasts about 7 seconds, and is roughly the interval between spontaneous eye-blinks (if we are in repose and our eyes aren't dry).

4) The brain is marginally stable/unstable. Joe Zbilut has expanded that notion formally in a difficult but profound book called: "From Instability to Intelligence: Complexity and Predictability in Nonlinear Mechanics (with Zak and Meyers, 1997 Springer). From the view of the marginal stabilty ( e.g., "The wink of a woman can start a war") Ibby developed what he thought was a "neurophysiological basis of war". In fact, when I was President of the Biomedical Engineering Society I appointed Ibby for the BMES highest award of the year and he gave a public lecture with that title, that I had published. I don't think he was at home with "perception/action issues, but, of course, he would pretend he was.

5) Finally, he made a list of "potentials" that condition all human actions. Many are physical (temperature, EMF radiations, gravity, pressures etc but, and here he was original - some are "value potentials". These shade off into your field. They are economics, and beliefs (i.e., religions). I could go on, but it's late and my taxes aren't quite estimated yet.

Ibby liked Turvey and respected his views. I can explain that later.

Ibby did not have a serious theory of consciousness as far as I know. And if he did, I would know.


Norrie Robbins

On 12/17/14 2:18 PM, Norrie Robbins wrote:

Hi Doug,

I am working on a Wikipedia entry for dad and have been searching his colleagues to see how to incorporate them into what I am writing. You are the ONLY one of his buddies with a decent entry.

L, Norrie

Thanks for the complement Norrie. Glad to help out if I can be of help.


I don't have much on Ibby at my wiki - - but Yates' synopsis of Ibby's view of his variant of the Reynold's number may be useful. The SFI physicist I talked to about Ibby's Reynold's number really didnt get it and the other physicist I asked to read one the Soodak and Iberall articles (1987) didn't get it either. So I never got farther than did Yates (way way less in fact) in interpreting their work although Ibby was a great intuitive teacher and inspiration.

The physicist who could really translate Ibby was Phil Anderson " "More is different" is Phil Anderson (1972)

Lets take Terry Deacon's paragraph as a start: the paragraph: "Scale kicks in with Morphodynamics (p201): nonequilbrium may occur at a lower scale, with continuing fluctuations in atomisms, but can average out at higher scales (Laughlin and Pine 2000) as that are homeokinetic. For example, the sun’s behavior is homeokinetic, but degrades at its full life scale. Action that is far-from-equilibrium in daylong processes must be homeokinetic in energy balances over many days, weeks, months, or years. For Phil Anderson (1972), "more is different."

I did meet David Pine at SFI and according to Terry's statement possibly Pine has an understanding that would concur with Ibby in some ways.

-- Doug White


It also strikes me that Phil Anderson has Chapter 23 ib the Yeat's book and that looking at the Associative Index on p646-647 Section III under Morphogenesis of Organisms covering Chapters 7-8-9-10-11 on the bolded topics might help in an overview of Ibby's contributions and why physicists even at the Santa Fe Institute could not parse his work even though the following are major SFI topics: Cooperativity and order parameters; topological dynamics; cycles and oscillations; stability, reliability and efficiency; morphogenesis; and neural biology.

Wikipedia:Harold J. Morowitz's Chapter 3 would be someone deeply associated with SFI who would probably understand Ibby's work.

For a later cohort of SFI scientists see 1999 Phase Transitions in a Gene Network Model of Morphogenesis Author(s): Ricard Solé, Isaac Salazar-Cuidad, Jordi Garcia-Fernandez. Ricard Solé was also a contributor to my editing the Complexity journal: Special Issue on Networks and Complexity associated with SFI; it was Harold Morowitz who encouraged me to do a special issue, obviously one influenced by Ibby,