Ming the Mechanic:
File compression detects life

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 File compression detects life2003-03-31 13:26
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picture by Flemming Funch

Scientists have discovered a way of recognizing the signs of life in rock formations. Essentially: create a digital image of the rock; then compress the image file. The more the file shrinks, the more likely it is that life was responsible for building the layers.
Although biological stromatolites and non-biological stromatolite-look-alike structures appear similar to the human eye, the biological origin of stromatolites makes them more ordered, more highly patterned. And it is this patterning that, while hard for the human eye to discern, is readily detected by the compression algorithm. Non-biological stromatolite-like structures are more random, less patterned and therefore less compressible.
An online test is here. Hm, interesting. Is higher life forms more or less compressible? Would the ultimate life forms be the most compressible and embeddable? Does all of life reduce to a beautiful little formula?


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