Woese as “scarred revolutionary”? He had to fight hard to get the Archaea, the third kingdom of life, accepted. He regretted that he had not succeeded in overthrowing “the hegemony of the culture of Darwin.”
The other comments are quite interesting but that one is framable. If we have too many answers, we don’t have enough questions.
Recently, our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon took issue with the use of the term “half-life” to describe the survival of DNA in fossils. He says the term has a specific meaning with respect to radioactive decay that just does not apply to other events in nature. In the biology paper at issue, with “half-life” Read More…
Sheldon: “As a physicist, I would like to point out that biologists are misusing the word “half-life”. DNA does NOT have a half-life of 521 years. Radioisotopes have a half-life, because the nucleus is unstable to natural decay through the weak force (for isotopes of interest).” He goes on to say that the weak force of the universe “is unaffected by temperature, pressure, time, or chemicals.” Not so for DNA.
“Just the right amount” over and over in a cascade is still just a big accident, right? That’s if you still want your job at the lab…
Gizmodo: Mitoh’s team suggested that autotomy in the wild could happen in Elysia atroviridis because the slug is regularly encumbered with planktonic parasites—perhaps leaving a parasite-ridden body behind to grow a new one is the easiest way of dealing with the infestation.
Marks: For example, if I burn a book to ashes and scatter the ashes around, have I destroyed information? Does it make a difference if there’s another copy of the book?
He turns out to be looking for a “bottom up” theory of agency—that is, a materialist one. And he admits that there is no such theory but he offers “a sketch of what a solution might look like.” One suspects that materialists will be offering such sketches centuries from now.
Did Darwin make it intellectually fulfilling to be an egotist?
Fine-tuning in biology shouldn’t be surprising. Why should biology be different from the rest of the universe?
Modeling biology on physics is useful if the biologist wants to pretend to an august Darwinian certainty that is not really available and perhaps not even possible.
Craig Mundie’s dream is to build an AI that rivals human intellect to tackle problems in health care. He hopes to be able to customize medicine for every person by building a virtual proxy for every person. It’s almost like he is asking for biology to play tricks on him…
At Nautilus: Although it seems like evolutionary determinism, there’s some weight to the idea that cells are constrained to a certain evolutionary path, no matter the environment they appear in.
Physics was “hiding its deepest mysteries” thousands of years ago too before anyone uncovered laws for how it works. There are still mysteries in physics, of course, but they are now more basic. The laws are now known. Let’s hope the same proves true for biology.
At Quanta: Many researchers believe the selection to be random: Those right-handed genetic strands just happened to pop up first, or in slightly greater numbers. But for more than a century, some have pondered whether biology’s innate handedness has deeper roots.