Bread, leaven and genes

Original text (D. Gorteau) :,le-pain-le-levain-et,318332.html

Bread, leaven and genes
It’s the title, somewhat enigmatic, of F. Roddier’s amazing book.
Trained as a scientist and working as an astronomer for many years (he wrote no less than 212 scientific articles), F. Roddier is now retired and is still curious about Science in general. In less than 100 pages, his book manages to provide the reader with lots of information on (apparently) random subjects.
Nowadays, our body is sometimes more fit for a prehistoric diet
The book opens on a short account of F. Roddier’s life and his peculiar health problems. This astronomer has suffered from bad sleep and having rickets almost all his life. Only when he retired, did he find out that his body had always been intolerant to gluten, one of the main components of white bread. This was the starting point of his fantastic study of the evolution of mankind and on the necessity for some (like himself) to be cured thanks to having the same diet as the early populations.
In that respect, our body proves to be sometimes more adapted to the prehistoric diet (which lasted approximately 100 000 years) than the agricultural diet (10 000 years) or the industrial diet (less than 200 years). Thus the author reveals the risks of eating industrial food, which is saturated with sugar, fat and various chemicals and which might lead to health problems when consumed without precaution.
The first and second parts of the book are devoted to this captivating moral question. Yet, the third part is even more informative and answers many questions to the most curious readers.
In approximately 20 pages, F. Roddier gathers information on 50-year long top researches, yet not on dietetics but in ... physics and evolution theories! Indeed, in order to explain  man’s role on Earth, he deals with the most recent findings on the mechanisms which control our universe. Every living structure (be it a star, a flower, man, or the Roman empire...) exits by dispersing energy, which explains why without calories or oxygen one dies.
In that respect, the reader may be surprised to know that for the same mass amount, the human brain delivers more energy than the sun! As time goes by, living creatures disperse energy, organize themselves internally (creation of Life for instance), exports entropy (disorder) and imports information.
Too complicated for you? Not really, just the history of DNA: a structure which progressively complexified and organized itself internally in order to accumulate information through successive transformation (natural selection law).
So, when a structure gets to the point where it has dispersed a maximum amount of energy, it becomes huge, stable yet hard to transform thus it collapses until other smaller structures appear. Isn’t it a reminder of the history of empires or the dinosaurs’ fate which were to be replaced by smaller mammals?

Chart made by astronomer E. Chaisson which confirms Dewar’s findings
Structurally speaking, the natural selection law is always beneficial to the structures (or species) which disperse the greatest amount of energy, and that was what Dewar (a researcher at the INRA) discovered in 2003 and which he called M.E.P (Maximum Entropy Production). Already in 1948, another researcher , Shannon, had found a connection between entropy and information.
In 1993, two scientists, Per Bak and Snepper, described the S.O.C evolutions (Self Organized Criticallity), which is a direct consequence of the M.E.P i.e. the sudden and/ or spasmodic evolution following a big change.
It is the case for human evolution where inventions such as the agriculture have transformed the human species more drastically than its genes, and in a rapid way. Thus brain (inventions) and language (in order to spread information) have replaced genes as ways of adapting to a new environment. Human societies then started to structure and disperse more and more energy (wood, coal, petrol, nuclear energy etc).
According to F. Roddier, the early agricultural inventions lead to the extinction of other homo species and to the predominance of ours.
In the fourth part of the book the author eventually provides us with gluten-free and chemical-free recipes for breads and other cakes.
In a hundred pages, the reader goes from food problems to the evolution of mankind and finally to the fundamental laws which control the Universe. Amazing! Not to speak of the possibility of a sudden meltdown of our civilisation in case our brain can’t switch from predatory capitalistic growth to comprehensive development.

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