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Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Posted:
Aug 15, 1996 6:01 PM


Greetings all,
I have a great deal of curiosity about the varying viewpoints on evolution (having been an Anthropology major). I just pick up the book "Darwin on Trial" by Phillip Johnson who's from my alma mater UCB. Not that it's important, but I went into reading the book with considerable confidence regarding the validity of the theory of evolution. However, the book has rased some interesting questions which I hadn't considered before.
Let me take a quick excerpt from the book from which I have a few questions to throw out: "..the mathematician D.S. Ulam argued that it was highly improbable that the eye could have evolved by the accumulation of small mutations, because the number of mutations would have to be so large and the time available was not nearly long enough for them to appear..."
Now I have a ton of questions stemming from this one sentence. I hope someone out there can help.
1 How does someone determine how long it would take for a series of mutations to occur (all being presumably favorable mutations)? 2 How accurate should one assume these calculations are? 3 What is the latest estimate of the age of the earth, and consequestly the earliest life form? 4 And since D.S. Ulam's analysis was done in 1967, would the almost certain difference in time be enough for his calculations to work (of course you'd have to know more specific info about his calculations to answer that question...is anyone familiar with them)? 5 I'm aware that there is an "official" rebuttle to this book, do you know the name of it and or the author?
Now I have a couple of questions that arose while reading other parts of the book.
1 Is it impossible to consider that the mutation rate might have decreased to its presently observed rate (as a result of any number of factors which you could come up with just as good as I)?
2 That's enough questions for now...I have more, but I think I've taken up enough of your time.
Thanks for any help you may be willing to give. Please forward any responses to my email address below.
Andrew Singer asinger@oboe.aix.calpoly.edu



