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The [EPrize] was announced at [ALifeX]. Some people think this is a bad thing: [1] [2]

Below is the email exchange I had with Brigham Klyce:

Email 1

From: Tim Hutton
To: Brig Klyce
Date: 8:37 AM 8/24/2006

Hi Brig,

I didn't make it to AlifeX but I've heard plenty about the ART prize,
so you've made something of an impact at least. Mostly I read people
suspecting you/ART of religious motives but I know nothing about this.

I simply have one question for you. In the PDF released at AlifeX
(http://www.panspermia.org/oeeipossible3.pdf) you say "it is
reasonable to doubt that OEEI in a closed system is possible." Do you
not regard the universe as a closed system?

Thanks for your time,


Email 2

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 22:49:57 -0600
From: Brig
To: Tim
Subject: open reply re: Evolution Prize at Alife X

Dear Tim --

Thanks for yours below, which has roused me to recontact the 
Evolution Prize mailing group by copies hereof. Hi everyone.

I went to Alife X and to the Wolfram Conference in June to promote 
the question, Is Open-Ended Evolutionary Innovation in a Closed 
System Possible (OEEI/CS?) and to promote the Evolution Prize to 
stimulate interest in the question. At both conference sessions there 
was good attendance and lively discussion. But subsequently the thing 
has not taken off. For a few weeks I had private email exchanges with 
about eight of the roughly 40 people who asked to be on the mailing 
list. But I have sensed a certain standoffishness, as if everyone 
wants to see what happens before getting too involved. Your comment 
about "religious motives" is news to me (thanks), and is perhaps the 
reason people are waiting. If so, I am extremely &%$#&^%$#ing 
irritated, because I carefully explained to both groups that I am a 
militant agnostc. My mother considers me an atheist. I have 
absolutely no religious or other hidden agenda. This position is also 
made clear on my website at panspermia.org. Yes I have an open 
agenda, also revealed on the website. It is this: if OEEI/CS is not 
possible, my bet is on the strong version of panspermia. But I am not 
seeking interest in panspermia, only in the question.

You asked if I regard the universe as a closed system. I think it is 
interesting that throughout history, except in Asia, people have 
tended to believe that the world ends just over the horizon. Same 
thing now. But the big bang theory is too new and too fluid to serve 
as the foundation for the rest of science. (Funny that the big bang 
is the only thing the creationists and darwinists agree on.) Anyway, 
I don't know if the universe is open or closed. If OEEI/CS is 
possible, the universe can be either open or closed. But if OEEI/CS 
is not possible, then we must take highly-evolved life as an initial 
condition. I think this would mean that either 1) life is the result 
of a miracle, or 2) life has always existed, and therefore the 
universe must have always existed. Such a universe would be open, 
timewise at least. (Multiple universes would all be part of the one 
universe in my usage.) I am profoundly opposed to the invocation of 
miracles, so I would opt for for choice 2. In other words, because I 
have faith in natural causes, I think that the answer to the OEEI/CS 
question can tell us if the universe must be, or need not be, open. 
Biology has something to say about cosmology.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, the *direct* evidence for OEEI/CS, in life 
or any system analogous to it, is shockingly weak. This is the point 
that I have been trying to sell to others for the past few years. In 
biology, any new genetic program can be delivered by gene transfer. 
Very many examples of this are well known. More every week. This fact 
already challenges the Darwinian account for new genetic programs -- 
they evolved elsewhere, in an unobserved species or process? To 
bolster the case that they "originated", the big bang must be 
invoked. Meanwhile, computer models have not convincingly 
demonstrated OEEI/CS. But almost no one else, it seems, thinks this 
weakness is shocking.

Yes there is interest in the prize money. ART's offering it helped me 
get the audiences, after all. (BTW, ART has given approximately 
300,000 dollars to support scientists researching within astrobiology 
or the OEEI/CS question in the past 10 years.) As I explained to the 
organizers of ALife X, I want to support the pursuit of this issue by 
a group more qualified and powerful than myself. So far I perceive 
that people are more interested in the support than the pursuit.

I still want to assemble a coalition. Hopefully, now that I have 
clarified my non-religious motive, momentum may pick back up. There 
was a  consensus for a cash prize to the best paper that bears on the 
subject (OEEI/CS?). I will be pleased if this becomes real. I welcome 
responses from anyone on the Eprize list, about the process. I 
welcome submissions for such papers, with jurying to be determined.

(Please say if I may post any response on my website.) Meanwhile, ART 
is ready now to support individual or cooperative research that bears 
directly on the question. Please, anyone, say if you are intereated.

Tim, thanks for your interest and for the helpful feedback. I hope 
this email is informative. Sorry to be grumpy. Best regards.

Brig Klyce
Astrobiology Research Trust
3685 South Galloway Drive
Memphis, TN 38111-6835
(901) 458-0123   fax -0127

At 08:37 AM 8/24/2006, you wrote:
>Hi Brig,
>I didn't make it to AlifeX but I've heard plenty about the ART prize,
>so you've made something of an impact at least. Mostly I read people
>suspecting you/ART of religious motives but I know nothing about this.
>I simply have one question for you. In the PDF released at AlifeX
>(http://www.panspermia.org/oeeipossible3.pdf) you say "it is
>reasonable to doubt that OEEI in a closed system is possible." Do you
>not regard the universe as a closed system?
>Thanks for your time,

Email 3

Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 11:23:37 +0100
From: Tim
To: Brig

Hi Brig,

Thanks for your reply. I'd be happy for these emails to go on your
website or wherever. I will post them on my website too.

I suspect the main reason the EPrize hasn't 'taken off' is simply
people's apathy - people will tend to keep working in their own area
of research. And of course scientists work very hard not to approach
their experiments with an expectation of outcome, so they are
naturally suspicious of ideologies. But I'm all in favour of prizes in
science, and I suspect the motivation they produce is quite

To respond to your points:

I don't understand how the universe/multiverse could have an infinite
past that always had life in it. Where did that life 'come from'?
Isn't that just creationism in a different disguise?

I have no objections to the concept that some or all of the components
of life arrived on Earth from outer space, I just don't think that
it's the simplest explanation. Life (in the mainstream view) must have
spontaneously started somewhere, so why not on the Earth?

Your comments on Darwinian theory are very strange to me. Are you
denying that an enormous amount of evolutionary change has happened on
this planet, as per the fossil record? If life was seeded on this
planet in a highly evolved form, why did it start off with simple
creatures and then work its way up to vertebrates etc.? No, evolution
is the simpler answer. (Or maybe I have misunderstood you completely)

Regarding OEEI/CS on computer, I do not find our failure to implement
it shocking. We've only had computers for 50 years, after all. We have
managed to show evolutionary complexity growth [1] (albeit with a
pre-designed goal, thus not satisfying OEEI/CS) which is a significant
piece of evidence for Darwinism.

I appreciate your reassurances that you will accept a positive answer
to your challenge to demonstrate OEEI/CS and not reject it because it
clashes with your personal hunches about panspermia. A stronger public
statement of that might go some way to quieten those critics of the

Can I ask where ART got the money from?


[1] The Evolutionary Origin of Complex Features. R.E. Lenski, C.
Ofria, R.T. Pennock, and C. Adami, Nature 423 (2003) 139-145.

Email 4

From: Tim
To: Brig
Date: Sep 6

Hi Brig,

I'm sure you're very busy but it would be nice to know if you plan to
respond to these questions at some point. I can't believe I've
mortally offended you?


Since then:

Nothing. Draw your own conclusions.

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