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Evolution in the Laboratory

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An evolutionary transition that took several billion years to occur in nature has happened in a laboratory, and it needed just 60 days.

Under artificial pressure to become larger, single-celled yeast became multicellular creatures. That crucial step is responsible for life’s progression beyond algae and bacteria, and while the latest work doesn’t duplicate prehistoric transitions, it could help reveal the principles guiding them.

“This is actually simple. It doesn’t need mystical complexity or a lot of the things that people have hypothesized — special genes, a huge genome, very unnatural conditions,” said evolutionary biologist Michael Travisano of the University of Minnesota, co-author of a study Jan. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

http://www.wired.com...lticellularity/

yeast_multicellularity.jpg

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Anyone interested in evolution--including any skeptics (though I doubt if many of those are open to reason) should be sure to read Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. It is a marvelous classic, full of fascinating detail. You'll see the virtues that made Darwin the greatest biologist who's ever lived. The man was indefatigable, and his mind insatiable. You get to follow him through jungle and wilderness, island and plain, gathering, studying, classifying and pondering literally tens of thousands of specimens, from microscopic dust to huge skeletons, from ants to turtles to birds and through the entire plant and animal kingdoms.

Here's an excerpt from an online article that stuck in my mind (from an unlikely source). From http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/224308/blood-libel-our-civilization/john-derbyshire:

Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation. This is quite apart from their wonderful utility — from the light, heat, and mobility they give us, the drugs and the gadgets and the media. (A “thank you” wouldn’t go amiss.) Simply as intellectual constructs, our well-established scientific theories are awe-inspiring.

And now here is Ben Stein, sneering and scoffing at Darwin, a man who spent decades observing and pondering the natural world — that world Stein glimpses through the window of his automobile now and then, when he’s not chattering into his cell phone. Stein claims to be doing it in the name of an alternative theory of the origin of species: Yet no such alternative theory has ever been presented, nor is one presented in the movie, nor even hinted at. There is only a gaggle of fools and fraudsters, gaping and pointing like Apaches on seeing their first locomotive: “Look! It moves! There must be a ghost inside making it move!”

The “intelligent design” hoax is not merely non-science, nor even merely anti-science; it is anti-civilization.

Decades ago, in high school, I read Darwin's journals written during the voyage of the Beagle, as well as The Origin of Species; they are glorious monuments of rationality.

See
, sponsored by the National Center for Science Education.

Especially awe-inspiring is the recent discovery that one of our human chromosomes is composed of two ape chromosomes fused together--accounting for why humans have one fewer chromosome than apes, and providing absolute proof that we have common ancestors.

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Anyone interested in evolution--including any skeptics (though I doubt if many of those are open to reason) should be sure to read Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. It is a marvelous classic, full of fascinating detail. You'll see the virtues that made Darwin the greatest biologist who's ever lived. The man was indefatigable, and his mind insatiable. You get to follow him through jungle and wilderness, island and plain, gathering, studying, classifying and pondering literally tens of thousands of specimens, from microscopic dust to huge skeletons, from ants to turtles to birds and through the entire plant and animal kingdoms.

Here's an excerpt from an online article that stuck in my mind (from an unlikely source). From http://www.nationalr...ohn-derbyshire:

Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation. This is quite apart from their wonderful utility — from the light, heat, and mobility they give us, the drugs and the gadgets and the media. (A “thank you” wouldn’t go amiss.) Simply as intellectual constructs, our well-established scientific theories are awe-inspiring.

And now here is Ben Stein, sneering and scoffing at Darwin, a man who spent decades observing and pondering the natural world — that world Stein glimpses through the window of his automobile now and then, when he’s not chattering into his cell phone. Stein claims to be doing it in the name of an alternative theory of the origin of species: Yet no such alternative theory has ever been presented, nor is one presented in the movie, nor even hinted at. There is only a gaggle of fools and fraudsters, gaping and pointing like Apaches on seeing their first locomotive: “Look! It moves! There must be a ghost inside making it move!”

The “intelligent design” hoax is not merely non-science, nor even merely anti-science; it is anti-civilization.

Decades ago, in high school, I read Darwin's journals written during the voyage of the Beagle, as well as The Origin of Species; they are glorious monuments of rationality.

See
, sponsored by the National Center for Science Education.

Especially awe-inspiring is the recent discovery that one of our human chromosomes is composed of two ape chromosomes fused together--accounting for why humans have one fewer chromosome than apes, and providing absolute proof that we have common ancestors.

What made Darwin's monumental work even greater was that he glommed onto the underlying principle of descent with modification without knowing the underlying mechanisms of heredity. Darwin published before the works of Gregor Mendel became known. Darwin did not have a theory of heredity one which to base his idea of variation and natural selection. Darwin had no notion of the gene. In effect, Darwin did for biology, what Mendeleyeff did for chemistry and physics. By using just the externally observable properties of the (known) elements Dimitre Mendeleyeff was able to intuit an underlying structure that would not become known until the theory of the nuclear atom was developed. Mendeleyeff worked prior to the discovery that atoms had structure and themselves consisted on constituent objects ( sub-atomic particles). Yet Mendeleyeff was able to spot gaps in the table of known elements and make specific and accurate predictions of what the new elements would be like, when they were discovered.

I rank Darwin (for biology) and Mendeleyeff (for Chemistry) as the two greatest empirical scientists of all times.

ruveyn

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I offer the following anology:

Darwin's theory of descent with modification by means of natural selection was to Biology, what Dimitri Mendeleyeff's Periodic Table of Elements was to Chemistry. With the theory of descent with modification biology would be little more than classifying plants and animals by their appearance. In short, biology would be pretty much where Aristotle left it. Without the Periodic Table of Elements and the way of figuring out where new elements would fit in, Chemistry would make little sense. Both these empirically derived constructs brought rhyme and reason to their respective sciences.

Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution

ruveyn

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For a good explanation of Mendeleyev's magnificent discovery, and its background, see Isaac Asimov's The Search for the Elements (1962). You'll learn a lot about the natural world.

You'll also learn why, at a Detroit area Objectivist dinner meeting, when a biochemist's match went out, I said "It's out of phlogiston."

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For a good explanation of Mendeleyev's magnificent discovery, and its background, see Isaac Asimov's The Search for the Elements (1962). You'll learn a lot about the natural world.

You'll also learn why, at a Detroit area Objectivist dinner meeting, when a biochemist's match went out, I said "It's out of phlogiston."

All it need was caloric.

ruveyn

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