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Episode Info: Where does order come from? How come there's, like, planets and people instead of just gas and dust? Matter has a funny way of organizing itself using simple rules. The process is called self-organization, but you can just think of it as matter doing its thing. Self-organization is so fundamental to understanding the world, we often don't talk about it unless there's a very specific example -- like a flock of birds, or a hive of bees. But you can see self-organization in every aspect of life. Proteins fold into tiny little machines all on their own. Cells do all the work of life without any CPU to tell them what to do (the nucleus does a lot, but it's not the brain of the cell). Brains, for that matter, produce consciousness without any single region or structure that can be identified as the "decider" -- consciousness emerges from distributed regions, all over the brain. Life comes from a bunch of small parts acting on their own, according to their own rules, to produce something bigger, more complex. So why don't we spend every day marveling at this beautiful reality? Why don't we begin our conversations, "Well hello, nice to meet you -- or should I say -- Nice for my neurons to collectively interact with the emergent consciousness of your neurons, neurons that are supported by all the rest of the cells in your body, cells that are in turn a staggeringly complex and elegant collection of proteins that folded on their own, supported by nucleic acids that assembled on their own into a sequence containing information that literally built itself from noise, you beautiful, precious hunk of living matter, I will never forget you, you symphony of life, you victory of order over randomness, I weep tears of sublimity at our meeting." No, that would be weird. But we can at least make a podcast.

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