Scientists at Stanford discovered something I don't understand. Then a writer simplified it for the Internet, making it worse. Then I read about it and my brain added a few misconceptions, as usual. That's how I roll. Anyway, now I am left with this question: Is this a big deal or a little deal?


This story didn't exactly set the media on fire, which leads me to believe it is a small matter, potentially adding a detail to the Theory of Evolution.

But perhaps it is the first solid evidence of my theory that spacetime is like a huge donut, or Mobious strip if you like, and future scientists will find a way for humanity to survive the black hole that devours the universe. They create the physical equivalent of a computer program that is so small it is unaffected by the forces that crush the universe. Over a few billion years, the program chugs along, guiding evolution to produce humans once again, thus we are all reborn. And since the universe is deterministic, it happens the same way every time.

Or not.

My only question today is whether this discovery might lead to a big change in the generally accepted Theory of Evolution. 

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Nov 17, 2008
The simple truth is that biologists don't yet really know what to make of it.
Nov 15, 2008
Despite the Darwinists trying to downplay this finding, if it's true (and I have no reason to believe that it isn't), it's likely the coup de grâce for Darwinism. The straw that broke the pseudoscience's back so to speak. lol

If you do a Google search around the web, you'll see this paper is getting a mixed reaction. Some love it, many more are getting their panties in a bunch over it. In fact, quite a few are outright rejecting it for no reason other than the fact that they realize what a major blow this is to their Victorian era ideology (but the finches beaks changed shape and size! *sob*).

What the author is describing here, Control Theory, is a well known engineering process that dates back centuries. I repeat, an ENGINEERING PROCESS. As in *gasp* INTELLIGENT DESIGN! Now you all understand why the Blind-Watchmaker Evolutionists are so eager to dismiss this article - it's pretty much the end of the great debate between Darwinism and Intelligent Design, with I.D. being the clear victor.

I look forward to any follow-ups on this article. Really interesting stuff. The more we learn, the stronger the case for I.D. becomes and the more Darwinism looks like a fairytale. That should throw up a huge red-flag that I.D. is most likely the correct position.

Darwinism - ideas based on what we didn't know in the 19th century

Intelligent Design - ideas based on what we do know in the 21st century
Nov 15, 2008
It's a little deal scott. Evolution, the blind watch-maker just made up a feedback mechanism in a blind fashion that turns out to be better/faster at evolving, that is all. No biggie.

Another control circuit with more/less feedback can go faster/slower in evolution. Such competing circuits themselves evolve, at another level, no big deal again. It's certainly a little deal.
Nov 14, 2008
Two lines from the linked article jump out to me.

"The Princeton group, ..., haven't proven that intelligent design is a valid scientific theory."

No, that would be heresy and closed minded.


"They discovered that the proteins were correcting any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations, constantly restoring the chain to working order."

Seems to argue against macro evolution if the organisms are self correcting and resistant to large mutations. But, since they were looking FOR evidence supporting evolution, they drew a contrary conclusion. When you throw out randomness, it seems like the only thing left is intelligent design.

I'm sorry, I'm being closed minded aren't I.

Scott, be careful, a 'computer' program guiding evolution smacks of intelligent design also. You might be labeled a nut or worst.
Nov 14, 2008
I should explain my last comment more.

The authors found that "redox potential" (just black-box that term and pretend we know what it means) of one protein was maximized in 2 organisms, and minimized in 2 other organisms.

They then reasoned:
We don't know how redox potential affects the efficiency of ATP generation.
Therefore, we know that redox potential doesn't affect ATP generation. (That's the crucial leap-of-illogic.)
Therefore, the fact that this is minimized in 2 organisms, and maximized in 2 other organisms, may be because there is a general mechanism that has evolved that tries to set all properties of a protein at either a maximum or at a minimum, regardless of whether those properties are important.
Nov 14, 2008
The paper is available online: Physical Review Letters 100, 258103, 27 June 2008. But, of course, you need to pay for it.

An article on evolution, by chemists, in a physics journal.

The authors are trying to explain this puzzle: They looked at cytochrome oxidiase c' in 4 different species. In two of them, the active heme site had a very low redox potential, compared to the possible range found in 4-residue mutants. In the other two, it had a very high redox potential.

They then had 2 possible explanations:

1. For some reason we don't yet know, a low redox potential for this protein is good in two of these species, but bad in the other two.

2. There is a magical force animating evolution, and this one study of one protein in 4 species overturns everything everybody thought they had learned about evolution over the past 150 years.

They chose the second.
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Nov 14, 2008
This will be a big deal if it turns out to be true, but based on the article, the authors don't seem to know the first thing about evolution. The whole thing is very dubious. They talk about data 'jumping off the page' but they don't say what data or how it was analysed. There are several sentences that contradict themselves in multiple ways.

Unfortunately, the original paper isn't available on line yet, so I can't check it out properly. But from what I've read so far, it doesn't ring true.
Nov 14, 2008
Ok Scott, you have GOT to read The Last Question by Isaac Asimov.


It's true what they say about great minds thinking alike I guess.
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Nov 14, 2008
Regarding the geometry of the universe, what happens at the equator? No, the other one; a torus has two.
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Nov 14, 2008
I guess it's too late to remove the part that makes this evolution create lolcats? Maybe next time.
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Nov 14, 2008
>>And since the universe is deterministic, it happens the same way every time

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was fairly generally accepted that the universe is infinite. Infinity has no definite value and is therefore indeterminite. Are you proposing that the appearance of a shape of the universe also dictates that it must have a finite size?
Nov 14, 2008
I think your first, completely inexplicable, misconception is about where the research was done: "Stanford."

The very URL to the article points at that it was Princeton, not Stanford:

Oh well. I guess it was just that mind-blowing... or maybe some hidden Bay Area bias?
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Nov 14, 2008

No deal.
They discovered nothing special, but tried to hype it a lot with loaded words.

In practice: "Proteins evolved to favor faster evolution".
Nothing new under the sun.

Have a look at the comments on Slashdot:
Nov 13, 2008
Anyone who has ever been interviewed by the press knows they usually get everything wrong. Once I was interviewed, and I said that most Mathematicians, after finishing their degree go on to get a Masters. Then I was asked if I'd do the same, I said yes. In the interview it said that my "dream" is to get a Master's Degree in math.

I'm betting the reporter got it wrong.
Nov 13, 2008
The opinion of someone who knows about evolution

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Nov 13, 2008
If I remember correctly Scott did a series of strips where Bob tried to use his force of will to evolve a pimple into a third eye so he could have an evolutionary advantage. While not exactly what they mean, I still thought of that as soon as I read the article.
Nov 13, 2008
little deal. "...it would be statistically impossible for this self correcting behavior to be random..." This self correcting behavior they refer probably just goes down the most stable path to the lowest energy state possible, much like how it is impossible for proteins to fold properly in the time observed but they do because of stabalizing interactions. Whoever wrote that article is not very versed in biochemistry and probably misunderstood the significance of the actual research.
Nov 13, 2008
I heartily second DMarkwick's recommendation of Greg Bear's _Darwin's Radio_ as a well informed, thoughtful take on almost exactly this subject.
Nov 13, 2008
Something about this just makes me think well duh.

isn't this implied in DNA? I mean if a Giraffe looked at the trees out of its reach and spent its entire life straining to get higher then it sgoing to happen, our thoughts guide our actions, power of positive thought and all that.

*thinks about developing psi powers*


Make is so all the comments are on all the same page.
Nov 13, 2008
The message to save the universe from the black hole will appear in the combination of proteins when they evolve to a certain point. Geez, everyone knows that. Next thing you'll tell me is the giant space ark that brought us to this planet doesn't exist or that god hates Parcheesi. Holy Fright!
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