Musings with ChatGPT: Achilles and the Chemistry

Kirill Novik
2 min readDec 26, 2023

The complexity of the natural world which many of us often consider a source of wonder is a testament to the futility of this world’s inability to find a stable state or simply peace.

Building on the understanding of atoms seeking the lowest energy state and the ideas presented in the previous article, we can frame an argument about complexity in the natural world, particularly in the context of chemistry and physics. The concept revolves around the idea that complexity in matter arises as a means to distribute and gradually resolve conflicts (such as energetic imbalances), but as complexity increases, the gains from each additional step of complexity diminish, leading to a paradox akin to Achilles and the tortoise. Here’s how the argument can be structured:

1. **Atoms Seeking Stability**: In chemistry, atoms bond to achieve a more stable, lower-energy state. This process can be seen as a resolution of conflict, where the conflict is the atom’s need to stabilize its electronic structure.

2. **Complexity as a Means of Conflict Resolution**: As we move to more complex molecules and structures, the principle of seeking stability remains, but the pathways to achieve it become more intricate. Molecules form, leading to complex reactions and interactions, which can be seen as a way of distributing and resolving energetic conflicts or imbalances across a larger structure.

3. **Diminishing Returns on Increasing Complexity**: As molecular structures become more complex, the energy stabilization gained from each additional bond or structural change decreases. This is analogous to the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise, where Achilles makes significant strides initially but gains less and less with each step as he approaches the tortoise.

4. **Paradox of Complexity and Unattainability**: This concept suggests that while complexity in molecular structures increases as a natural progression towards resolving energetic conflicts, there is a point where the benefits of added complexity diminish significantly. It mirrors the idea of unattainability in the Achilles and the tortoise paradox, where despite continuous progress, the goal (complete resolution of conflict or absolute stability) becomes increasingly elusive.

5. **Practical Implications in Chemistry and Physics**: In real-world scenarios, this concept can be observed in the formation of complex organic molecules or intricate crystal structures. Each additional element or bond contributes to stability but also adds to the complexity, eventually reaching a point where further complexity offers minimal additional stability.

6. **Philosophical Reflection**: This idea connects deeply with the philosophical notion of striving for an ideal state that is always just out of reach, reflecting a fundamental aspect of the natural world where absolute perfection or complete resolution of conflict is unattainable.

In summary, the argument posits that the natural progression towards complexity in matter, as seen in chemistry and physics, is a process of distributing and resolving conflicts such as energetic imbalances. However, this progression faces diminishing returns and embodies a paradox where the ultimate resolution or perfect stability remains perpetually elusive. This concept not only has implications in the understanding of chemical and physical phenomena but also offers a philosophical reflection on the nature of change and complexity in the universe.

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Kirill Novik

Whether I shall turn out to be a hero of this book these pages must show