Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The Human Mutation Rate and Its Implications

Every time human DNA is passed from one generation to the next it accumulates 100–200 new mutations, according to a DNA-sequencing analysis of the Y chromosome.

This number — the first direct measurement of the human mutation rate — is equivalent to one mutation in every 30 million base pairs, and matches previous estimates from species comparisons and rare disease screens.

The British-Chinese research team that came up with the estimate sequenced ten million base pairs on the Y chromosome from two men living in rural China who were distant relatives. These men had inherited the same ancestral male-only chromosome from a common relative who was born more than 200 years ago. Over the subsequent 13 generations, this Y chromosome was passed faithfully from father to son, albeit with rare DNA copying mistakes. Read More ›

The Foresighted Paradigm Shift

I’ve heard geneticists say we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift, and that no one really understands what’s going on. I even read an article the other day showing how at least one creature DELETES portions of its own DNA during certain stages of development. Basically, the long-held ideas from even a couple years ago are being modified. Until scientists can look at an arbitrary line of code and say “this does this or that” I would not say any idea is “certain”.

Lamarck’s specific hypothesis had been rejected once Mendel found a mechanism for inheritance. Lamarckism was so obviously wrong. Darwin came up with something that was just the opposite. It was obviously true and easily understandable. It is easy and true within a certain scope, although it’s inadequate to explain certain biological features. Hence the modern synthesis and the current attempt to formulate a new synthesis of ideas, which may or may not succeed. Read More ›

Extra Characters to the Biological Code

Even if compressed I’ve always thought that the known informational content was not enough data. This makes sense because from an engineering point of view because there doesn’t seem to be enough data storage space in a few billion base pairs of nuclear DNA to specify all the detail in a mammal or similarly complex animal. It’s enough room to store a component library of the nuts and bolts required to build individual cells of different types but not the whole animal.

Obviously no one can argue against the assertion that we do not fully comprehend the biological code. Unlike with computer code we cannot simply determine at a glance which informational content defines what biological function. The title of geneticist Sermonti’s book is “Why a Fly is not a Horse”. In it he writes the only thing we know for certain about why a horse is a horse and not a fly is because its mother was a horse.

Thus, based on our current level of knowledge, any calculations that quantify biological informational content are going to be rough estimates. Personally, when measuring the functional sequence complexity of code encoding proteins I’ve long biased any calculations I do by rounding up to several extra informational bits. And this action seems justified by this recent news: Read More ›

Miller Redefining Design

Originally written by uoflcard. I’d rather not distract from the main point of the other thread: HGT. So I created a separate thread for this topic, duplicating this info.

There is ‘Design’ in Nature, Biologist Argues

It is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read. A biologist says that the ID movement garners attention because it is appealing to believe there is design in nature. “To fight back, scientists need to reclaim the language of ‘design'”, he says. What the article and the biologist don’t explicitly say is basically they completely misuse the word “design”. Listen to his personal definition of design: Read More ›

RNA Getting Lengthy

ScienceDaily reports on an interesting experiment relevant to OOL scenarios.

With the aid of a straightforward experiment, researchers have provided some clues to one of biology’s most complex questions: how ancient organic molecules came together to form the basis of life.

Specifically, this study demonstrated how ancient RNA joined together to reach a biologically relevant length. Read More ›

Life From Chiral Crystals . . . Really?

The other day I made an offhand comment that the chirality problem was nowhere being solved. Yellow Shark was nice enough to provide a link to new research published in November, 2008. Now I was referring to scenarios which could occur in nature, not in lab conditions, and so I contacted some friends to see what they thought and to see if the research was indeed relevant to OOL scenarios.
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ID-Compatible Predictions: Foresighted Mechanisms Identified?

Core ID and ID-compatible hypotheses have various predictions. For example, there’s the confirmed predictions related to junk DNA and genetic nature of the platypus, the predictions about designer drugs, long-term preservation mechanisms for conserving information that is not currently implemented, and retroviruses being capable of being used to implement designed changes. At this time the scientific research we have so far does not provide conclusive positive evidence for some of these predictions, although there are tantalizing glimpses that such predictions may become known to be true. There’s also some types of observed changes that happen so rapidly and repeatedly that they would seem to defy being within the domain of strictly Darwinian processes. But such research is just beginning. (And Ken Miller claims that ID cannot make predictions and research cannot occur…)

But then there’s the predictions specific to ID-compatible hypotheses such as front-loading.
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Behe’s “Multiple mutations needed for E. coli”

Multiple mutations needed for E. coli

An interesting paper has just appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli”. (1) It is the “inaugural article” of Richard Lenski, who was recently elected to the National Academy. Lenski, of course, is well known for conducting the longest, most detailed “lab evolution” experiment in history, growing the bacterium E. coli continuously for about twenty years in his Michigan State lab. For the fast-growing bug, that’s over 40,000 generations!
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Expelled Plagiarizing Harvard?

Premise Media has just been slapped with a “cease and desist” letter from XVIVO, the group at Harvard that produced the video clips from which the still images at the top of this thread were taken. They are alleging copyright infringement (not to mention blatant plagiarism). The full text of the letter from XVIVO’s lawyers can be read at:

ERV: Expelled Epelled for Plagiarism
ERV: About That Cell Video in Expelled

The letter makes it clear that if the offending video clips are not removed from the film and all promotional materials by the opening date, immediate legal action will be taken to stop the release of the film.

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GA This!

The concept of IC is that an IC system has no *functioning* precursors with the same function. Zachriel’s program (and other similar programs randomly generating phrases) don’t challenge IC because the target phrases do not have functioning precursors. As in, they do have precursors but they do not provide the same meaning. Thus, if IC was taken into account normally these words would not promote survivability. If Darwinists would deal with programs instead of phrases they would understand quickly what a functioning precursor is.

Here is a modification of the Phrasenation program that I’d find interesting and possibly even relevant to discussions of ID. I’d like suggestions on how to more accurately reflect the problem Darwinists face.
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The Edge of Horizontal Gene Transfer

Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) is now being invoked fairly often as a magic wand by Darwinists. So what experimental evidence do we have?

Genome-Wide Experimental Determination of Barriers to Horizontal Gene Transfer

Horizontal gene transfer, in which genetic material is transferred from the genome of one organism to another, has been investigated in microbial species mainly through computational sequence analyses. To address the lack of experimental data, we studied the attempted movement of 246,045 genes from 79 prokaryotic genomes into Escherichia coli and identified genes that consistently fail to transfer. We studied the mechanisms underlying transfer inhibition by placing coding regions from different species under the control of inducible promoters. Our data suggest that toxicity to the host inhibited transfer regardless of the species of origin and that increased gene dosage and associated increased expression may be a predominant cause for transfer failure. While these experimental studies examined transfer solely into E. coli, a computational analysis of gene transfer rates across available bacterial and archaeal genomes supports that the barriers observed in our study are general across the tree of life.

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Putting the Cart Before the Horse

When it comes to discussing open systems aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves here? There are still some very basic problems to solve before getting into hand-waving over the evolution of computers and human minds.


Solutions with as little as 1% enantiomeric excess (ee) of D- or L-phenylalanine are amplified to 90% ee (a 95/5 ratio) by two successive evaporations to precipitate the racemate [mixture]. Such a process on the prebiotic earth could lead to a mechanism by which meteoritic chiral {alpha}-alkyl amino acids could form solutions with high ee values that were needed for the beginning of biology.

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