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Is Nature now giving space to structuralism?

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Copy Michael Denton.* From the editors of Nature, a look at the work of D’Arcy Thompson a century ago:

The 100-year-old challenge to Darwin that is still making waves in research

Biological response to physical forces remains a live topic for research. In a research paper, for example, researchers report how physical stresses generated at defects in the structures of epithelial cell layers cause excess cells to be extruded.

In a separate online publication (K. Kawaguchi et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature22321; 2017), other scientists show that topological defects have a role in cell dynamics, as a result of the balance of forces. In high-density cultures of neural progenitor cells, the direction in which cells travel around defects affects whether cells become more densely packed (leading to pile-ups) or spread out (leading to a cellular fast-lane where travel speeds up).

Finally, we have also prepared an online collection of research and comment from Nature and the Nature research journals in support of the centenary, some of which we have made freely available to view for one month.More.

Could Nature be trying to disassociate itself from Darwin’s dunces? There is a world of evolution out there that does not consist of 1) whatever fits into their theories vs. 2) everything else, which must be suppressed.

*Note: Denton, as his book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis reveals, is a structuralist. He thinks that many puzzles of evolution will turn out to relate to as yet unidentified laws of physics and chemistry.

Of course, if one insists, with Stephen Jay Gould, that evolution is random, any such quest is in vain.

Denton himself certainly learned what can happen to those who search for such laws.

See also: Convergent evolution: “Emerging view” that evolution is predictable?

and

What the fossils told us in their own words

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