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Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Posted:
Aug 21, 1996 5:38 PM


In article <3219C30A.1907@cliff.backbone.uoknor.edu>, vjohns@cliff.backbone.uoknor.edu says... > >Felix J. Thibault <fthibau@comp.uark.edu> wrote: >> >> Andrew Singer <asinger@flute.aix.calpoly.edu> writes: >> ... >> > "..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..." >> >> I have been wondering about this argument for a while,as well,so maybe >> someone can clear up something for me. It seems that since the argument is >> probability based we can interpret it as follows: >> Given a multitude of earths,with evolution occuring as it does here, >> it the probability of the human eye arising again on one of these earths >> in the 4.5 billion years(from my early 80's geology book) it took here is >> infinitesmial. >> This is how I interpret Stuart Kauffman's argument on E Coli, _The >> Origins of Order_,pp2122,that we should not look at the probability of a >> known evolutionary event recurring,but instead should look for the >> probability that some such event could occur. We wouldn't expect other >> intelligent life forms to speak any human language after all, we would >> just expect them to have some system which serves them as our languages >> serve us. > >The analogy I've seen to this is that of tossing a coin 10 times and >looking at the pattern of heads and tails that results (a common >experiment in elementary probability); for example, we might get >T H H H T H H T H H . > >Now we can ask what the probability is of that exact sequence (0.001) >and marvel in amazement that that is what happened. Of course, >every time we do this we'll get *some* result, it just won't be >exactly the same as what actually happened. > >  Vincent Johns > Are the odds of inanimate materials coallescing to form life greater or lesser than those for the appearance of the human eye?
Larry Adams



