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How many earths in our galaxy .....

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#326 llanitedave

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 08:38 PM

Dave, thank you so very much.  I understood that almost completely.  Certainly well enough to feel I understand what chirality is in this regard.

 

Now, for two questions:

 

In what you wrote was the statement, "Looking at a mirror image of a sugar or amino acid chain will not give you the same version of the molecule."   By "will not give you the same version of the molecule" do we mean that the mirror image is not a sugar or amino acid, or that it is a sugar or amino acid but functions differently than the other-handed sugar or amino acid?

 

Second question, at the end you wrote, "Life prefers L-amino acids, not D-versions."  I feel that this is getting us into the discussion of how life arose.  But I need you to explain the relationship between "life preferring L-amino acids" and why this presents a difficultly for explaining how life arose.

 

Thank you again.

 

Otto

It's still the same type of molecule in a chemical sense.  Leucine, for example, has the chemical formula C6H13NO2.  That is true whether it takes the L- form or the D- form.  Only the L- form is used in the body for general metabolic functions, such as triggering the protein synthesis response, being converted to enzymes, or being incorporated into the protein structural chain.  That doesn't mean that the D- enantiomer has no biologic response (it is found in trace amounts, and it has been found to counteract seizures in mice), but it's not involved in the general cell machinery.

 

For your second question, the problem is that when amino acids are produced in laboratory conditions, the quantities tend to be racemic, including equal numbers of the L- and D- enantiomers.  A functional protein cannot form when a D- form of an amino acid gets taken up by a growing chain.  This is certainly a problem in origin-of-life research, because there needs to be a way for living molecules to filter out the D- versions and find adequate numbers of the L- versions.  It's not a problem now, because D- amino acids and L- sugars are very rare in nature.  During  the pre-biotic phase of Earth's history, however, the two versions would have been much more equal in numbers.

 

Some consider this an insurmountable problem, but all too often what seems insurmountable with limited information becomes "merely" difficult as knowledge increases.  And there do appear to be ways in nature that the discrepancy can be potentially overcome.  Whether that potential can be realized is still to be shaken out.



#327 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 09:05 PM

Thank you Dave.  That was clear.  I fully understood it.

 

To summarize and then to extrapolate/apply this information:

 

The situation on earth immediately preceding the emergence of life, should have been akin to a laboratory racemic condition in which L and D forms of amino acids should have been present in roughly equal amounts.  

 

But if, immediately preceding the emergence of life, a racemic condition existed, we cannot at this time see a way in which life could have emerged from natural processes alone.

 

But life did emerge.  Thus the condition immediately preceding the emergence of life must not have been racemic.  Rather, the L forms must have predominated.  Further, the meteorite you mentioned gives evidence that the situation, which should have been racemic was not so, but tilted to the L side.

 

In the absence of natural explanations for why the situation immediately preceding the emergence of life was not racemic, those scientists who also favor an intelligent-design-paradigm would see this an evidence of the involvement of an intelligent-designer (a creator, a God).

 

Does it seem to you, Dave, that I correctly understand the issues here and does it seem to you that I am summarizing the information you gave me, correctly?


Edited by Otto Piechowski, 22 December 2018 - 09:09 PM.

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#328 llanitedave

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 09:42 PM

I think you're doing really well, Otto.  Better than I would have done just after an introduction to the concepts.

 

BTW, there's more evidence than the Murchison meteorite alone that there are natural forces that can amplify the L- forms of amino acids.  I do think it's premature to take the stance that nature can't do it, therefore ______ (insert preferred miraculous tale here).

 

This work is going to be exacting and slow, and probably not definitive for some time.  There's plenty of opportunity for those who wish to jump to a conclusion, to do so.


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#329 Conaxian

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 10:04 PM

I jumped to page 14 to see how many Earths we have.  By my calculations, carefully arrived upon via first impression, impulse and vague guessery, I conclude we have 43.  They would mostly lie in the direction of Sagittarius.


Edited by Conaxian, 22 December 2018 - 10:04 PM.


#330 llanitedave

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 12:15 AM

I jumped to page 14 to see how many Earths we have.  By my calculations, carefully arrived upon via first impression, impulse and vague guessery, I conclude we have 43.  They would mostly lie in the direction of Sagittarius.

You're close.  The exact number has to be 42.


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#331 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 10:44 AM

Because of the time you took to explain this L/D amino-acid/sugar thing to me, Dave, I feel I now understand the relationship of L amino acid dominance and the origin of life, the issue behind the current uncertainty regarding how life originated on our planet, how this could be seen as an indication of the work of an intelligent designer.  Logically, there is no problem with assuming the existence of an intelligent designer as a cause of the origin of life on our planet, as a tentative hypothesis based on our lack of a natural explanation for L-dominance at the time life emerged on our planet.  However, scientifically, it would be premature to say that this is the likely explanation until such time as we have a fuller and clearer understanding of other (currently unknown) natural forces might have led to L-dominance immediately preceding the emergence of life on our planet.

 

If it should one day, somehow, become certain that God (an intelligent designer) was the cause of creating the L-dominance and the emergence of life based in part on that L-dominance; I am OK with that.  However, I am just as comfortable, should we become certain that natural processes led to this L-dominance immediately prior to the emergence of life on our planet.  In my theology and spirituality, it was God could have directly caused the L-dominance.  But it is just as acceptable that this God could have chosen to create the universe/conditions which would have led to the natural processes leading to L-dominance.

 

At the level of philosophy of science, when doing science as science, it is necessary that the doing of this science not be "front loaded" with philosophical/metaphysical/theological assumptions.  That is clear to me, and I thank Neil for this way of expressing this insight.  In one of his writings which I read, he used that phrase "front loading" and warned against it.  Neil has written that it is inappropriate to front-load a scientific discussion with faith assumptions.  At the same time he is aware, as am I, that a scientist assuming a philosophical denial of the existence of an intelligent designer can also be illegitimate front-loading of a scientific investigation.

 

There is one type of front-loading which can be helpful to doing science as science.  Philosophically, I think it can be helpful, in coming to a useful path to the scientific truth, to ask opening questions which use assumptions from philosophy/metaphysics/theology as hypothetical premises in a deductive syllogism.  At the end of such a process, I do need to remember that any conclusions reach based on the use of such hypothetic premised deductions cannot be considered to be doing science as science, but they can help in determining down which of the many possible scientific thought-paths and experimental paths one should travel.

 

I appreciate the clear way in which you communicate.  You are attentive to the need to avoid any unintentional equivocation in the words used.  That helps, tremendously helps me, move step by step to understanding.


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#332 llanitedave

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 11:57 AM

Because of the time you took to explain this L/D amino-acid/sugar thing to me, Dave, I feel I now understand the relationship of L amino acid dominance and the origin of life, the issue behind the current uncertainty regarding how life originated on our planet, how this could be seen as an indication of the work of an intelligent designer.  Logically, there is no problem with assuming the existence of an intelligent designer as a cause of the origin of life on our planet, as a tentative hypothesis based on our lack of a natural explanation for L-dominance at the time life emerged on our planet.  However, scientifically, it would be premature to say that this is the likely explanation until such time as we have a fuller and clearer understanding of other (currently unknown) natural forces might have led to L-dominance immediately preceding the emergence of life on our planet.

 

If it should one day, somehow, become certain that God (an intelligent designer) was the cause of creating the L-dominance and the emergence of life based in part on that L-dominance; I am OK with that.  However, I am just as comfortable, should we become certain that natural processes led to this L-dominance immediately prior to the emergence of life on our planet.  In my theology and spirituality, it was God could have directly caused the L-dominance.  But it is just as acceptable that this God could have chosen to create the universe/conditions which would have led to the natural processes leading to L-dominance.

 

At the level of philosophy of science, when doing science as science, it is necessary that the doing of this science not be "front loaded" with philosophical/metaphysical/theological assumptions.  That is clear to me, and I thank Neil for this way of expressing this insight.  In one of his writings which I read, he used that phrase "front loading" and warned against it.  Neil has written that it is inappropriate to front-load a scientific discussion with faith assumptions.  At the same time he is aware, as am I, that a scientist assuming a philosophical denial of the existence of an intelligent designer can also be illegitimate front-loading of a scientific investigation.

 

There is one type of front-loading which can be helpful to doing science as science.  Philosophically, I think it can be helpful, in coming to a useful path to the scientific truth, to ask opening questions which use assumptions from philosophy/metaphysics/theology as hypothetical premises in a deductive syllogism.  At the end of such a process, I do need to remember that any conclusions reach based on the use of such hypothetic premised deductions cannot be considered to be doing science as science, but they can help in determining down which of the many possible scientific thought-paths and experimental paths one should travel.

 

I appreciate the clear way in which you communicate.  You are attentive to the need to avoid any unintentional equivocation in the words used.  That helps, tremendously helps me, move step by step to understanding.

Thanks for those kind words, Otto.  I don't always pay that much attention to my posts, but when the questions are deep and thoughtful, the answers should be also, just as a matter of respect.

 

I agree that we need to be careful regarding assumptions of front loading.  This being Cloudy Nights, and the TOS being what it is, theistic discussions are always fraught, and we should be hesitant to engage in them, even when that's our main interest!

 

There are many angles one could use if we wanted to discuss  this as a theo/philosophical question, but you are correct that we cannot simply make the assumption "mystery = miracle".  Some see the hand of divinity even in the most mundane and scientifically well-understood of natural processes, for them there is no conflict.  WITH them, I can also have no conflict.  Others leap into the gaps in knowledge, seeing them as the chance to insert their favored creation story.  I have little patience for those.

 

The latter group includes entities such as the Discovery Institute, who have already made a name for themselves by their fraudulent behaviors, and any other pundit, trained scientist or not, who becomes an itinerant preacher for the cause of "nature can't do it, therefore join my religious group!"  There are some who see the origin of life or even evolution itself, as some sort of last stand of their theo/socio/political world view, and no amount of science will make them change their minds.  Every time a knowledge gap is filled, they simply see two new, albeit smaller, gaps, and the quest for donations from the credulous continues.


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#333 ColoHank

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 12:18 PM

Just musing...

 

In the College of Arts and Sciences at my Alma Mater, Philosophy was listed among the arts, and like all arts, it comprises subjective rather than objective disciplines.  I majored in geology, one of the sciences.  Of course, in the College of Arts and Sciences, science majors were obliged to take courses in the arts, and vice versa.  And so, in the realm of philosophy, I took a course in symbolic logic and one entitled Man and Ideas.

 

Many years ago, I read some very succinct definitions of art vs. science.  I made a mental note of them but regret that I didn't have the sense to write them down.  If memory serves, and at my age it doesn't (the hard drive is both full and slow), the definitions were something like this:

 

Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion.

Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection.

 

Has anyone else ever run across that reference, and if so, did I get it anywhere near right?  



#334 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 12:23 PM

no, Hank, I have not heard that quote before distinguishing between arts and sciences. It is a thought-provoking quote and I would like to know where it originated as well.

#335 llanitedave

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 12:49 PM

Just musing...

 

In the College of Arts and Sciences at my Alma Mater, Philosophy was listed among the arts, and like all arts, it comprises subjective rather than objective disciplines.  I majored in geology, one of the sciences.  Of course, in the College of Arts and Sciences, science majors were obliged to take courses in the arts, and vice versa.  And so, in the realm of philosophy, I took a course in symbolic logic and one entitled Man and Ideas.

 

Many years ago, I read some very succinct definitions of art vs. science.  I made a mental note of them but regret that I didn't have the sense to write them down.  If memory serves, and at my age it doesn't (the hard drive is both full and slow), the definitions were something like this:

 

Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion.

Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection.

 

Has anyone else ever run across that reference, and if so, did I get it anywhere near right?  

I've heard something similar too, but I don't remember whether that was the exact phrasing.  You may have the hard drive issues, but I, on the other hand, am blessed with the hindsight of senescence.



#336 ColoHank

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 01:01 PM

When I Googled art vs. science to see if I could locate a source for that quote, I got a bunch of links to articles about some musical group named  Art vs. Science.  A sign of the times, I guess.


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#337 Astroman007

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 02:12 PM

When I Googled art vs. science to see if I could locate a source for that quote, I got a bunch of links to articles about some musical group named  Art vs. Science.  A sign of the times, I guess.

And a most unfortunate one at that. Dangerous even, if you think about it. Carl Sagan's quote in my sig quite accurately describes our time in which emotion and the will to believe have conquered logic, reason, facts, and experimental evidence. I see it more and more. What a tragedy. Soon truth will once again have to be guarded and maintained in strictest secrecy by the adepts of science, of the mind and of matter. Guarded away from the eyes and knowledge of those in authority, as in the darkest days of old.

Of course, bear in mind that band names do not necessarily mean anything in and of themselves. I would not take a band name literally.



#338 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 04:16 PM

"Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion.

Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection."

 

 

"Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion."

 

At the beginning of The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo and his production of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, there is a commentary.  In that commentary it is pointed out that Michelangelo left a number of his sculptures unfinished.  In doing so, those unfinished sculptures presented great energy and a powerful insight into the actual reality of the human condition.  The commentator said that had Michelangelo attempted to finish those sculptures, it would have diminished the power and reality of the sculptures.

 

It seems, that artists sometimes know that there comes a time when they must stop trying to improve on an unfinished work which will never, in at least some respects; will never be finished.  Good artists know when not to be persistent.

 

 

"Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection."  

 

If the topic to which science is addressed is limited to matter or motion, the scientist can safely and even effectively go full-bore and be perfectionistic, even obsessive compulsive in pursuing that topic with the tools of science.

 

But, should s/he be handed a non-scientific issue/matter/topic and should s/he insist on using only scientific tools to study this immaterial topic/matter/issue (because s/he is only comfortable when dealing with matter and motion and only comfortable using the tools of matter and motion), s/he will often miss the mark.  A partial and deformed "solution" might be obtained.  Or in the end s/he might insist that the immaterial subject being dealt with is not real.  Or s/he might actually enter into some esoteric mysticism or new-age-like-metaphysics.

 

In the way of an analogy; imagine an accountant whose family is falling apart relationally and emotionally.  His/her response is to dive obsessively into the financial spreadsheets of the family, hours and hours on end, in order to find a monetary solution to the families emotional and relational issues.

 

 

There is this wonderful chapter in The Brothers Karamazov.  Smerdyakov is a silent taciturn servant.  He is, what Tolstoy calls, "a contemplative".  Tolstoy writes that what often happens with such "contemplatives" is that they remain silent most of their lives, being almost unnoticed by others.  And then one day, they either "burn down their village" or "sell everything and go to live in Jerusalem" or "they do both".

 

The talented artist and the talented scientist must know, for the sake of their own mental health and spirituality, need to be able to lay their art and science aside from time to time.

 

 

Otto


Edited by Otto Piechowski, 23 December 2018 - 08:17 PM.

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#339 EJN

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 10:26 PM

Have a blessed Saturnalia.

 

I prefer Festivus.



#340 ColoHank

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 11:51 PM

"Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion.

Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection."

 

 

"Art is persistence in the pursuit of passion."

 

At the beginning of The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo and his production of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, there is a commentary.  In that commentary it is pointed out that Michelangelo left a number of his sculptures unfinished.  In doing so, those unfinished sculptures presented great energy and a powerful insight into the actual reality of the human condition.  The commentator said that had Michelangelo attempted to finish those sculptures, it would have diminished the power and reality of the sculptures.

 

It seems, that artists sometimes know that there comes a time when they must stop trying to improve on an unfinished work which will never, in at least some respects; will never be finished.  Good artists know when not to be persistent.

 

 

"Science is passion in the pursuit of perfection."  

 

If the topic to which science is addressed is limited to matter or motion, the scientist can safely and even effectively go full-bore and be perfectionistic, even obsessive compulsive in pursuing that topic with the tools of science.

 

But, should s/he be handed a non-scientific issue/matter/topic and should s/he insist on using only scientific tools to study this immaterial topic/matter/issue (because s/he is only comfortable when dealing with matter and motion and only comfortable using the tools of matter and motion), s/he will often miss the mark.  A partial and deformed "solution" might be obtained.  Or in the end s/he might insist that the immaterial subject being dealt with is not real.  Or s/he might actually enter into some esoteric mysticism or new-age-like-metaphysics.

 

In the way of an analogy; imagine an accountant whose family is falling apart relationally and emotionally.  His/her response is to dive obsessively into the financial spreadsheets of the family, hours and hours on end, in order to find a monetary solution to the families emotional and relational issues.

 

 

There is this wonderful chapter in The Brothers Karamazov.  Smerdyakov is a silent taciturn servant.  He is, what Tolstoy calls, "a contemplative".  Tolstoy writes that what often happens with such "contemplatives" is that they remain silent most of their lives, being almost unnoticed by others.  And then one day, they either "burn down their village" or "sell everything and go to live in Jerusalem" or "they do both".

 

The talented artist and the talented scientist must know, for the sake of their own mental health and spirituality, need to be able to lay their art and science aside from time to time.

 

 

Otto

It would be presumptuous to complete another's work of art based on the assumption that it's somehow incomplete.  But science is different than art.  When a scientist runs into a dead end, he or she might give up in desperation or seek a different line of inquiry, but if the problem or need is compelling enough, someone else is sure to take up the challenge.  


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#341 EJN

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 01:16 AM

The physicist turned biologist Max Delbruck put it this way in his Nobel Prize lecture:

 

"While the artist's communication is linked forever with its original form, that of the scientist

is modified, amplified, fused with the ideas and results of others, and melts into the stream of

knowledge and ideas which forms our culture."


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#342 Astroman007

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 12:17 PM

I prefer Festivus.

But Saturnalia sounds more fun!



#343 llanitedave

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 01:29 PM

The physicist turned biologist Max Delbruck put it this way in his Nobel Prize lecture:

 

"While the artist's communication is linked forever with its original form, that of the scientist

is modified, amplified, fused with the ideas and results of others, and melts into the stream of

knowledge and ideas which forms our culture."

This post led to a long conversation with my wife, who is an artist.  Being married to me, she's also very much interested in science.  Her perspective is different, and worth considering.  Using the Mona Lisa as an example, that single work doesn't define art, nor even the artist's communication.  It is a single experiment along the path to greater expression and greater skill.  We may consider it priceless in our day and age, but Leonardo Da Vinci didn't feel that way about it.

 

Art, like science, is a process, of learning, experiment, discovery, evolution, communication, and collaboration.  Just as much as science, art develops by standing on the shoulders of giants.  And of children.  So what Delbruck said about science applies equally to art.

 

The difference between the two is less than many assume.  From my own perspective, the difference is that science is tied to and limited by the "real" world, the existing framework of matter and energy against which all else is played out.  Art is limited only by the imagination, science is limited by both imagination and reality.


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#344 astroneil

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 02:32 PM

nota bene:

 

http://bio-complexit....4/BIO-C.2018.4



#345 astroneil

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 03:35 PM

Nota bene; in post # 103 of this thread the poster presented work by Jack Szostak(Harvard University).

 

It must be noted that some of Szostak's claims of RNA self replication were retracted owing to the inability of his colleagues to reproduce the work.

Source: https://www.nature.c...UVvR6XRR1ibSn0=

 

In an interview Szostak said, "we were totally blinded by our belief [in our findings]…we were not as careful or rigorous as we should have been..."

 

Source:https://retractionwa...nal/#more-52894

 

Another 2009 paper by Szostak et al was similarly retracted.


Edited by astroneil, 24 December 2018 - 03:41 PM.


#346 astroneil

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 06:17 AM

nota bene: concerning M-dwarf flaring.

 

https://exoplanets.n...mperil-planets/



#347 gavinm

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 02:56 PM

So ? What are your endless stream of references supposed to prove?



#348 llanitedave

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 04:29 PM

So ? What are your endless stream of references supposed to prove?

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
-- Albert Einstein

 

Some people are very attached to a particular point of view, and want to promote it, even though they don't understand it.  Therefore, they reference other sources, which they also don't understand, in the hopes that it will make their point for them.  But they don't know if it will, because they understand neither their own point, nor the argument that their reference is making.

 

BUT, using the phrase nota bene, sure makes them sound sophisticated!


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#349 DaveC2042

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 05:48 PM

Neil and Dave,

 

Because I am not a scientist, I understand only simple arguments against and for evolution, and those only in normal (non-technical) words.

 

As you respond to the questions I have for you below, please do me and the rest of us the kindness of responding in writing rather than referring me/us to other websites/articles--I want to hear/read you both in your own voice.

 

 

Dave, I once stated here, years ago I think, that the general principle of evolution seemed to contradict entropy; the second law of thermodynamics which I understand to mean that all systems tend toward disorder.  I argued that since "all" systems tend toward disorder, that seemed to contradict the central theme of biological evolution that over time biological systems tend toward ever better (more survivable) systems.  //  As I recall, you responded to me that it was exactly entropy which was needed for evolution to work.  You said, I recall, that the random mutations/changes of dan caused by various forms of radiations and chemistries, over time, is what leads to the types of DNA which are better, which survive better.  

 

So my question to you Dave is, did I understand you correctly and am I stating the idea clearly and correctly enough.

 

 

Neil, my question for you involves something you have tried to explain to me over the years involving an issue important to the proof/disproof of evolution regarding right and left handed molecules.  I seem to recall this is also referred to as chirality.  I have almost no understanding of this idea, but I could sense over the years that it is an important piece to why some scientists don't accept an evolutionary paradigm.  

 

So my question/request to you is could you explain this here to me/us in simple terms.  

 

 

With gratitude,

 

Otto

Otto

 

The entropy objection to evolution is based on a fundamental misunderstanding.  Entropy always increases in a closed system.  Neither a genome, nor a life-form, nor the earth are closed systems.  Entropy can certainly decrease in an open system, as long as it is offset by increases outside that system.

 

As evolution increases order in a genome and a lifeform, it increases disorder outside the lifeform - in the rest of the earth. For example, we eat things, build and repair our bodies (decrease entropy inside us) and then excrete waste products (increase entropy outside us). The net effect is an increase in disorder, as required by thermodynamics.

 

As for the earth, it is constantly delivered free energy in the form of sunlight, allowing order to be increased.  (This is not really the place for a detailed discussion of the relationship between free energy and entropy, but that is the guts of it).



#350 Otto Piechowski

Otto Piechowski

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 08:48 PM

Thank you Dave, for that concise and clear response and explanation. Otto


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