Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

BTB: Points to ponder as we look at Crick’s understanding of DNA as text, since March 19, 1953


A few days back, I headlined a clip from Crick’s letter to his son Michael, March 19, 1953:

Crick's letter
Crick’s letter

The main text is accessible here (with page scans). Sans diagrams:

>>My Dear Michael,

Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. for short. You may remember that the genes of the chromosomes — which carry the hereditary factors — are made up of protein and D.N.A.

Our structure is very beautiful. D.N.A. can be thought of roughly as a very long chain with flat bits sticking out. The flat bits are called the “bases”. […]

Now we have two of these chains winding round each other — each one is a helix — and the chain, made up of sugar and phosphorus, is on the outside, and the bases are all on the inside. […]

Now the exciting thing is that while these are 4 different bases, we find we can only put certain pairs of them together. The bases have names. They are Adenine, Guanine, Thymine & Cytosine. I will call them A, G, T and C. Now we find that the pairs we can make — which have one base from one chain joined to one base from another — are only A with T and G with C.

Now on one chain, as far as we can see, one can have the bases in any order, but if their order is fixed, then the order on the other chain is also fixed. […]

It is like a code. If you are given one set of letters you can write down the others.

Now we believe that the D.N.A. is [–> h/w has underscore] a code. That is, the order of the bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another). You can now see how Nature makes copies of the genes. Because if the two chains unwind into two separate chains, and if each chain then makes another chain come together on it, then because A always goes with T, and G with C, we shall two copies where we had one before. […]

In other words, we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life. The beauty of our model is that the shape of it is such that only these pairs can go together, though they could pair up in other ways if they were floating about freely. You can understand that we are very excited. We have to have a letter off to Nature in a day or so. Read this carefully so that you understand it. When you come home we will show you the model.

Lots of love,

There is much food for thought there, so let me now headline a list of points to ponder as posted yesterday (but not addressed by ID critics who could easily comment here at UD . . . and have a track record of pouncing if they see an opportunity):

>>1: What is text, apart from a digital [= discrete state], symbolic communication system, i.e. a linguistic phenomenon?

2: What is the only empirically verified source of complex instances of textual language?

[As in, digitally coded, functionally specific complex information, dFSCI; a key manifestation of the wider functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information, FSCO/I . . in turn a functionally specified subset of complex specified information, CSI. (And no, don’t try the oh this is a delusion trick, it is patent that these terms describe an observable and highly significant phenomenon, cf posts in this thread D/RNA and a 6500 C3 fishing reel, etc.) Where, 3-d functional structures can be reduced to a string of y/n answers to q’s in some structured description language, as we see with AutoCAD etc that use bits and a description language to encode the design information of artifacts. And yes, a string of y/n q’s is a bit string, an information metric. And, considerations on strings are therefore WLOG.]


3: What is the empirically observed cause of s-t-r-i-n-g data structures used to store and facilitate processing of textual information?

4: What is the empirically demonstrated cause of machine code, textual information generally stored in string data structures and used to control the sequence of information processing and/or operations in an information-based system?

5: When we see DNA converted into mRNA (often, with editing) and then used to control protein molecule assembly in the ribosome,

DNA is a string digital data structure which stores coded information in the specific sequence of bases, G/C/A/T, both for protein coding and for regulation/control
DNA is a string digital data structure which stores coded information in the specific sequence of bases, G/C/A/T, both for protein coding and for regulation/control

is this not an example of numerically controlled assembly driven by a step by step sequence of processes involving start, proceed, and at some finite remove, stop?

Protein Synthesis (HT: Wiki Media)
Protein Synthesis (HT: Wiki Media)

6: Is this not, then, an algorithmic process?

7: Does this not then manifest computation in action in a physical machine implemented using molecular nanotech?

fscoi_facts{Vuk Nikolic:}

[vimeo 31830891]

8: Does this not place intelligently directed configuration as the most credible candidate to account for cell based life, given the centrality of proteins in such life forms and the chicken or egg first implication of the system just described?

9: Can one algorithmic process of significant complexity, generally speaking, be readily incrementally converted into another stepwise, functional all the way? (That is, is not the phenomenon of islands of function in a large configuration space the NORMAL implication of FSCO/I as described?)

10: What, then, does this presence of textual information and of linked algorithmic processing with associated molecular nanotech execution machinery tell us about the most credible origin “mechanism” of cell based life? Its diversification across the space of body plans from microbes to man? (Where, design can be briefly defined: intelligently directed configuration.)

11: What, then, is the significance of information in the world of cell based life?

12: Where does this point onward for our investigations of the world around us, and our application of our findings to C21 industrial civilisation? (As in, what is the significance of the demonstrated potential of von Neumann, kinematic self replicating systems — at nanotech and “clanking” scales alike — for transforming the world of technology?


13: As in, does Marcin Jakubowski have a point when he speaks of a global village construction set?

14: Where does this point for transformation of industrial technology, development transformation and onward — over the next 100 – 200 years — for solar system colonisation? [Likely: Moon, Mars, Asteroid belt, possibly gas giant moons. Eventually, perhaps, outposts in the trans Neptunian cloud, especially on dwarf planets.]

15: In such light, is it a fair assessment or assumption, that a design inference framework is a science, thought, technology and progress stopper?

16: Why, then (given the history of modern science and the specific impact of the Judaeo-Christian worldview framework on it), has this been touted by supposedly well informed and educated people and their organisations? Why has such been taken seriously by many others?

17: What can we now see about the significance of information, information-rich organisation and a design based approach to understanding our world in a sci-tech context?

18: Is the import of the above not more than sufficient motivation — almost, a manifesto in outline — to follow up scientifically on this perspective?>>

What do you think? Why? On what grounds? END

Notice, the eighteen points? kairosfocus
Oops, how could I have forgotten to put up an exploded view of the Abu 6500 C3 reel? Tut, tut! Okay, corrected. kairosfocus
RVB8, especially for you on DNA info storage in the chain sequence. KF kairosfocus
PS: Added some illustrations and a video on protein synthesis. Particularly note the diagram illustrating how DNA stores information in two complementary strands. kairosfocus
Eighteen points to ponder on ID, information in the natural world and the future of Sci-Tech. kairosfocus

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