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Meyer and Nelson on a Failed Explanation for the Origin of the Genetic Code

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Ann Gauger has already drawn our attention to the new paper, published just last week, in the journal BIO-Complexity. Authored by Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer and Paul Nelson, the paper is concerned with the question of the origin of the genetic code, and seeks to evaluate the efficacy of the so-called Direct RNA Templating (DRT) hypothesis as an explanation for its origin.

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Ice And The Origin Of Life :
Abstract: Sea ice occurs abundantly at the polar caps of the Earth and, probably, of many other planets. Its static and dynamic properties that may be important for prebiotic and early biotic reactions are described. It concentrates substrates and has many features that are important for catalytical actions. We propose that it provided optimal conditions for the early replication of nucleic acids and the RNA world. We repeated a famous prebiotic experiment, the poly-uridylic acid-instructed synthesis of polyadenylic acid from adenylic acid imidazolides in artificial sea ice, simulating the dynamic variability of real sea ice by cyclic temperature variation. Poly(A) was obtained in high yield and reached nucleotide chain lengths up to 400 containing predominantly 3?? 5? linkages.
"Poly(A)" means all the nucleotides are the same (Adenine). However I doubt there was any sea ice 3.5 bya as the earth was still too hot. Joseph
This is an exceedingly interesting area of study. Researchers would do well to keep in mind, however, that either (i) molecules enjoy an affinity that naturally causes them to join up in certain sequences (in which case you have essentially no information, and certainly not a code), or (ii) the sequence is arbitrary (in which case you can get a code, but can't automatically get it through natural molecular affinities). Physical law will *never* explain the existence of code. Ever. Period. Chance is the only potential explanation, other than design. Of course, the probabilities for chance are so horrific, that folks will keep coming back to attempts to resurrect the inevitable/law/etc. kinds of explanations. Eric Anderson
Where's Nick when you need him? He could explain all this... "Yet more bottom of the barrel Creationist word salad." alan
Information is a product of a complete encoding / decoding system. Either all of the coding/decoding system is in place and working, or it is incomplete and non-functional, useless. In this sense, could we also say that information is irreducibly complex? Let's see. What happens when random mutations occur in a coded message? It ceases to communicate specific information. To demonstrate this, we'll start from a known, intelligible message. Let's test to see if intelligibility is lost when random mutation is added. “The cat jumped over the dog” add some random mutation to the message.... “The jumped cat over dog” add more random mutation.... “Tje jpmo dvgh eovde tha” Obviously, no meaningful communication, no message, no instructions can take place unless correct encoding and decoding also take place. The above example demonstrates that the addition of random mutation to coded symbols conveying meaningful, specific information results in a net loss of all specific information. The fact that DNA transcription is semantic -dependent* is good evidence that the design of life is purposeful, since only an intelligent mind creates symbols, codes and language systems that convey specific information about something other than itself. *“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies. The genome, or the ensemble of genetic messages, is generated by a stationary Markov process and recorded in the DNA sequence, which is isomorphic with the tape in a tape-recording machine. ”Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005 Bantay
Excellent! Upright BiPed
Nice article Jonathan; Another day, another bad day for Darwinists,,, Perhaps they can try their luck with some of the other 20 codes that are found integrated with each other in life: In the last ten years, at least 20 different natural information codes were discovered in life, each operating to arbitrary conventions (not determined by law or physicality). Examples include protein address codes [Ber08B], acetylation codes [Kni06], RNA codes [Fai07], metabolic codes [Bru07], cytoskeleton codes [Gim08], histone codes [Jen01], and alternative splicing codes [Bar10]. Donald E. Johnson – Programming of Life – pg.51 - 2010 further notes: "A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor). It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. ,,,there is no known law of nature and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter. Werner Gitt 1997 In The Beginning Was Information pp. 64-67, 79, 107." (The retired Dr Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the Head of the Department of Information Technology.) Biophysicist Hubert Yockey determined that natural selection would have to explore 1.40 x 10^70 different genetic codes to discover the optimal universal genetic code that is found in nature. The maximum amount of time available for it to originate is 6.3 x 10^15 seconds. Natural selection would have to evaluate roughly 10^55 codes per second to find the one that is optimal. Put simply, natural selection lacks the time necessary to find the optimal universal genetic code we find in nature. (Fazale Rana, -The Cell's Design - 2008 - page 177) Deciphering Design in the Genetic Code Excerpt: When researchers calculated the error-minimization capacity of one million randomly generated genetic codes, they discovered that the error-minimization values formed a distribution where the naturally occurring genetic code's capacity occurred outside the distribution. Researchers estimate the existence of 10 possible genetic codes possessing the same type and degree of redundancy as the universal genetic code. All of these codes fall within the error-minimization distribution. This finding means that of the 10 possible genetic codes, few, if any, have an error-minimization capacity that approaches the code found universally in nature. http://www.reasons.org/biology/biochemical-design/fyi-id-dna-deciphering-design-genetic-code =========================== The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel - Null Hypothesis For Information Generation - 2009 To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: "Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration." A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis. http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation) 1) Mathematical Logic 2) Algorithmic Optimization 3) Cybernetic Programming 4) Computational Halting 5) Integrated Circuits 6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium) 7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics) 8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system 9) Language 10) Formal function of any kind 11) Utilitarian work http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency - Dr David L. Abel - November 2010 Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”,,, After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided. The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction: “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.” http://www.scitopics.com/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Insufficiency.html ====================== 3-D Structure Of Human Genome: Fractal Globule Architecture Packs Two Meters Of DNA Into Each Cell - Oct. 2009 Excerpt: the information density in the nucleus is trillions of times higher than on a computer chip -- while avoiding the knots and tangles that might interfere with the cell's ability to read its own genome. Moreover, the DNA can easily unfold and refold during gene activation, gene repression, and cell replication. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008142957.htm etc etc etc bornagain77
For DRT to work you need the "R"- is there any evidence for the spontaneous formation of RNA under prebiotic conditions? Joseph

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