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Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Posted:
Aug 30, 1996 3:24 PM


Steve McGrew wrote: > > In article <Pine.ULT.3.91.960825034630.14248E100000@freenet.vcu.edu>, > David Beorn <dbeorn@freenet.vcu.edu> wrote: > > > Well, I don't know that we can say with CERTAINTY that life evolved but > > people certainly do SAY it. I've heard calculations that to just form > > one protein (amino acid?? I think) by chance, one of the building > > blocks of life is 10 to the 46th power  and that's not even life. So the > > probability for life is significantly greater than that. And the time > > involved is significantly greater than the longest estimates for the age > > of the earth  so what conclusions should you draw from this?? > > What do you suppose the person who did those calculations meant by the > term "by chance"? My guess is that he calculated the number of different > possible amino acid chains of some particular length, and called the > reciprical of that the probability that any one chain of that length would > come into existence. > > In that case, the calculation is wrong, wrong, wrong. In genetic > algorithms, which are systems that evolve in ways crudely analogous to > biological systems, it is not uncommon to find the one optimum solution > out of 10 to the 50th possible solutions, while only actually looking at > 10 to the 4th trial solutions. In other words, evolution uses > stochastistic processes, but gets to where it's going very fast. > > You really can't get a clear understanding of evolution, I think, > without handson experience. One way to get handson experience is to > download a genetic algorithm demo and play with it for a few months. > Another is to carry out some of the lab procedures like those of Frances > Arnold or Gerry Joyce, where just a few generations of mutation, selection > and reproduction produce RNA or amino acid sequences with greatly improved > properties. > > Steve McGrew > >  > Steve McGrew  stevem@comtch.iea.com > New Light Industries, Ltd.  www.iea.com/~nli > 9713 W. Sunset Hwy  phone 5094568321 > Spokane, WA 99204 USA  fax: 5094568351 >



