“The Daisyworld planet contains only two species of life: light daisies and dark daisies. Light daisies tend to reflect light, which has a cooling effect, while dark ones absorb radiation, and therefore warm the planet. Growth of the daisies depends on the present population, the natural death rate, the available space and the temperature (the equations that Lovelock used to model them were based on the dynamics of real daisy growth). The planet revolves around a sun, from which it absorbs energy at a rate which depends on the sun’s luminosity and the albedo of the planet. It also radiates heat out to the universe, at a rate determined by the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.

Interestingly, when the model is run with the sun’s luminosity gradually increasing, the population of the light and dark daisies adjust themselves naturally so as to keep the temperature constant at the optimal level for daisy growth. Daisyworld is an example of a self-regulating system. Feedback loops between the daisies and the planet temperature, contained in the equations relating growth rate to albedo, somehow conspire to maintain the conditions suitable for life.

Daisyworld is only a kind of thought experiment, but demonstrates the principle of self-regulation very convincingly. It’s a viable ecosystem which regulates its temperature, without any recourse to selection or teleology.”

While reading this I cannot help but think about the amazing ideas in the book “Emergence”.


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