Astronomy Intelligent Design News

Breaking News: pro-ID peer-reviewed paper by Vladimir I. Cherbaka and Maxim A. Makukov

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HT: JGuy

In a science journal Icarus, a journal dedicated to Solar System studies, we have this recent paper from Vladimir I. Cherbaka, Department of Mathematics, al-Farabi Kazakh National University and Maxim A. Makukov Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, Observatory 23.

The “Wow” signal in the terrestrial genetic code

Abstract

It has been repeatedly proposed to expand the scope for SETI, and one of the suggested alternatives to radio is the biological media. Genomic DNA is already used on Earth to store non-biological information. Though smaller in capacity, but stronger in noise immunity is the genetic code. The code is a flexible mapping between codons and amino acids, and this flexibility allows modifying the code artificially. But once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature, if that conforms to biological and thermodynamic requirements. As the actual scenario for the origin of terrestrial life is far from being settled, the proposal that it might have been seeded intentionally cannot be ruled out. A statistically strong intelligent-like “signal” in the genetic code is then a testable consequence of such scenario. Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10–13). The patterns are profound to the extent that the code mapping itself is uniquely deduced from their algebraic representation. The signal displays readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries. Besides, extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to any natural origin. Plausible ways of embedding the signal into the code and possible interpretation of its content are discussed. Overall, while the code is nearly optimized biologically, its limited capacity is used extremely efficiently to pass non-biological information.

22 Replies to “Breaking News: pro-ID peer-reviewed paper by Vladimir I. Cherbaka and Maxim A. Makukov

  1. 1
    julianbre says:

    OT: Guillermo Gonzalez has been appointed assistant professor of physics at Ball State University. Congrats to Guillermo and BSU!

  2. 2
    Bilbo I says:

    It’s not clear from the abstract whether the authors are arguing that the genetic code is evidence of artificiality, or whether they are arguing that we should look for some sort of message or signal contained within the code.

    I might compare it to SETI: They are looking for a narrow-band electromagnetic emission, since narrow-bandedness would be a sign of artificiality. If on top of that the emission also had some sort of signal that also displayed artificiality, such as the prime numbers through 101, so much the better.

    So are the authors saying that the code is analogous to narrow-bandedness? Or are they saying that we should look for a signal within it? Or both?

  3. 3
    wd400 says:

    Did you actually read this? Can you explain how it’s anything more than numerology?

  4. 4
    Bilbo I says:

    I skimmed it and realized that I wasn’t sure what their point was.

  5. 5
    scordova says:

    Did you actually read this? Can you explain how it’s anything more than numerology?

    I haven’t read it yet, but that’s not the point, it got through review. Matzke wasn’t quick enough on the trigger this time around. 🙂

    My posting of the news is not meant an endorsement or disendorsement of the content, but to convey the good news that someone other than UDers are thinking about ID.

  6. 6
    wd400 says:

    Sorry Biblo, my comment was to the OP.

    Scordova,

    I’d read the paper before I celebrated a new ally.

  7. 7
    CLAVDIVS says:

    From the abstract: What is “P-value < 10–13" supposed to mean? Is it 10^-13?

    If so, they're saying they have statistically disproved "all presumable evolutionary pathways”.

    I’d be interested to know how they define “presumable” evolutionary pathways.

  8. 8
    LoneShaman says:

    Hi, first post.
    Some extra information here.
    http://gencodesignal.org/

  9. 9
    julianbre says:

    Thanks for the post LoneShaman. Reading it right now.

    “1. Prof. Myers did not show that our premises are incorrect or scientifically invalid. Actually, he did not mention the premises at all.”

    That seems to happen a lot with PZ.

  10. 10
    LoneShaman says:

    Another good resource on this work, lots of links to follow up on.
    http://www.craigdemo.co.uk/geneticpatterns.htm

  11. 11
  12. 12
    keiths says:

    By the way, Sal, you mangled the lead author’s name.

    It’s shCherbak, not Cherbaka.

  13. 13
    Querius says:

    Wow, this is really interesting!

    It would seem to me that the question of whether the patterns observed by Cherbaka and Markukov have an extraterrestrial or supernatural source would likely be subject to first ruling out a natural, terrestrial explanation.

    Regardless of the answer, a more immediate, practical question is whether these patterns have a function, and what it might be. I find it ironic that in some respects this question is the inverse of the discussion about so-called “junk” DNA.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Skittle: A 2-Dimensional Genome Visualization Tool
    Josiah D Seaman* and John C Sanford – 2009
    Excerpt: Preliminary observations using Skittle reveal intriguing genomic patterns not otherwise obvious, including structured variations inside tandem repeats. The striking visual patterns revealed by Skittle appear to be useful for hypothesis development, and have already led the authors to theorize that imperfect tandem repeats could act as information carriers, and may form tertiary structures within the interphase nucleus.
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/10/452

    i.e. the results/patterns of skittle are certainly not what one would expect to see if the genome were mostly junk (over 90%) as Darwinists have dogmatically claimed in the past

  15. 15
  16. 16
    JGuy says:

    WD400 @ 3

    Did you actually read this? Can you explain how it’s anything more than numerology?

    Can you explain how it’s numerology where SETI isn’t?

    Nevertheless, I’m with Sal on this. It’s an ID friendly paper in peer review. And whether it can/will be falsified or not can now be discussed… anything wrong with that option?

  17. 17
    JGuy says:

    Paul Davies on this the SETI topic:

    […] and it seems to me that we could in addition to scouring the skies for radio waves with a message encoded we could scour terrestrial genomes, which are being sequenced anyway, to see if there is a message from ET encoded in it.

    http://bigthink.com/videos/a-m.....in-our-dna

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Semi related note:

    The following impressive videos highlight some of the innovative techniques that are being employed to visualize, in 3D, some of these very complex interactions happening in a cell:

    SPARKYT3DHD – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsoQNq1kadc

    (3D representation of) YEAST PROTEIN INTERACTION NETWORK HD – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....L7Q#t=206s

  19. 19

    CLAVDIVS:

    From the abstract: What is “P-value < 10–13″ supposed to mean? Is it 10^-13?

    If so, they’re saying they have statistically disproved “all presumable evolutionary pathways”.

    I’d be interested to know how they define “presumable” evolutionary pathways.

    Yes, it’s a power.

    They don’t actually say “all presumable evolutionary pathways”. They do say:

    We tested both versions of the null hypothesis (“the patterns are due to chance alone” and “the patterns are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways”). The results are of the same order of magnitude; we describe only the version with presumable natural conditions. Three such conditions reflecting predominant specula-tions on the code evolution were imposed on computer-generated codes in this test:

    (1)Redundancy must be on average similar to that of the real code. This is thought to be due to the specifics of interaction between the ribosome, mRNA and tRNA (Novozhilovetal., 2007). Besides, we took into account possible dependence of the probability for a codon family to stay whole or to be split on the type of its first two bases. This follows from the difference in thermostability between codon-anticidon pairs enriched with strong (G and C) bases and those enriched with weak (A and T) bases (Lagerkvist, 1978). For that, the probability for a family of four codons with leading strong doublets to specify a single ami-no acid wasadopted to be 0.9, for those with weak doublets –0.1, and for mixed doublets it was0.5. Each of the 20 amino acids and Stop is recruited at least once; therefore codes with less than 21 generated blocks are discarded. After that blocks were populated randomly with amino acids and Stop.

    (2)Reduced effect of mutations/mistranslations due to natural selection. The cost function for polar requirement was adopted from Freeland &Hurst (1998), taking into account transversion-transition and mistranslation biases (see also No-vozhilovetal., 2007).Only those codes were passed further which had cost function value smaller than ?0 + ?, where ?0 is the value for the universal code, and ? is the standard deviation for all random codes filtered through the previous condition.

    (3)Small departure from the cytoplasmic balance (seeAppendixD). As argued by Downes&Richardson (2002), this balance might reflect evolutionary pathways optimizing the dis-tribution of mass in proteins. WithCstanding for all side chain nucleons in the code and B for all nucleons in block residues, the value ?=(C–B)/(C+B) is distributed approximately normallywith ?=0.043 and ?=0.024 (under the first condition described above). Only those codes were considered which had ? in the range 0 ± ?, centered on the value of the standard code. As that range corresponds to codes with smaller (“early”) amino acids predominating, this condition also reflects presumable history of the code expansion (Trifonov,2000;Wong, 2005).

    I do give them credit for trying to model an evolutionary null.

    At least they appreciate the need to do so. I can’t figure out what it is, though.

  20. 20
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 19

    I do give them credit for trying to model an evolutionary null.

    At least they appreciate the need to do so. I can’t figure out what it is, though.

    Me neither.

    They appear to be fairly crude proxies for evolutionary pathways, but I might be wrong.

    I actually think it could be quite an interesting paper, and I wish I could understand it better. If life on earth is an artifact of a designing intelligence then some kind of semiotic signal in the genetic code may well be expected. However, whilst the paper may have found some interesting patterns it does not appear to have reached the ‘wow’ level of, say, finding sequences of primes (channelling Carl Sagan).

    Cheers

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    LoL! No one can model blind watchmaker evolution, ie the evolutionary null. Not even evolutionists can do that.

    And THAT is the problem-> blind watchmaker evolution doesn’t deserve a seat at the probability table because no one can even demonstrate a feasibility.

  22. 22

    Jguy:

    Paul Davies on this the SETI topic:

    “[…] and it seems to me that we could in addition to scouring the skies for radio waves with a message encoded we could scour terrestrial genomes, which are being sequenced anyway, to see if there is a message from ET encoded in it.”

    Paul Davies is acknowledged for his help with the paper.

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