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Peter Winiwarter, Dr., Bordalier Institute, Boursay, France

Universal Evolutionary Hierarchy: A Unified Network Approach (Evo Devo Universe 2008)

Hierarchies are ubiquitous. You find them in any science and in any field of research. In fact the hierarchical “vision” of a system is a way to put a static order into the view of a complex system. Networks are everywhere. You find them from galaxies to the World Wide Web. Again the networks don't exist, they are only a mental framework to put a dynamic order into the view of a complex system. The Universe is a hierarchy – most people agree that it is not a flatland – but it can also be seen as a hierarchy of networks. How to put an order into this complex mess of viewpoints, points of view and world views? This paper attempts to establish an evolutionary hierarchy based on clearly stated criteria. A hierarchy is an ordered set: ordered according to an order criterion. As order criterion for the universal evolutionary hierarchy we propose the time of emergence during evolution as observed by today’s science. By time of emergence we understand the first observation during the process of evolution of a given hierarchical level. Such a nested hierarchy of levels corresponds to the temporal sequence of their emergence.

The number of levels in our hierarchy is arbitrary. For simplicity we choose 24 levels: 12 levels for the astrophysical evolution (deceleration and expansion of the universe from the big bang to the origins of biological life), and 12 levels from the early biosphere to the present of the Internet and Web Services (acceleration of evolution).