If you had a four-letter alphabet and all words were three letters, then how many words would there be? The answer is 4 times 4 times 4, or 4-cubed, or 4^3, or 64. That’s how the DNA code works. Our DNA has four molecular “letters” and to create a protein the letters are taken three at a time in words called “codons.” Each codon specifies an amino acid and these 64 different codons are mapped to 20 different amino acids (and a “stop” signal). Since the 64 different codons far exceeds the 20 different amino acids and the stop signal, the code is degenerate. In other words, there are multiple codons that map the same amino acid (just as “absurd” and “ludicrous” have similar meanings). Read more
6 Replies to “Here’s What That New UCSF Paper Says in Plain English (And Why Evolution Needs Another Do-Over)”
Sorry Dr. Hunter, but that’s false.
All possible combinations of letters do not make words. In fact, it’s the very presence of words at all in a sea of meaninglessness that begs for an explanation other than a blind, deaf and mute linguist.
And yes, per Mung, if we observed that then we would indeed infer design.
Not according to Dembski.
Every three letter combination producing a word would indicate a law-like process, not design.
Howdy Mung, good to see you. Here’s my interpretation of Dr. Hunter’s use of “word” with regard to codons.
The term “word” in reference to data can regard any sequence of word-length bits as a word. The word length is determined by the hardware architecture. This is very much the case with DNA; its word length is 6 bits, for 2^6 = 64 possible values. Any of those 64 values would be considered a word in this sense. The Microsoft Windows API defines a “WORD” as a sixteen bit unsigned integer (unsigned short). This is a throwback to sixteen bit Windows, but any word-length value fits the description.
So while it’s true that linguistically, a word is an unlikely combination of characters corresponding to a predefined meaning, it’s applicable to refer to a word as a fixed-length string of values within the context of a data processing system.
This doesn’t speak against the system’s specified complexity however. While any input of a valid nucleotide triplet will produce a valid output, the consistency of the input-to-output mapping is the result of internal configuration, for which law-like processes are not a sufficient cause. The system’s configuration is both specific and contingent. (Its operation is explicable in terms of physical law, not its configuration).
Is that per some private conversation?
It took an agency to set up the intial conditions and the parameters.
With DNA, its not the words that count, it’s the sentences, paragraphs and encyclopedia-length books!