Saturday, March 14, 2015
In an earlier post in regards to standard evolutionary synthesis, my point was that simple "natural selection" on "random" mutations fails for the very Darwinian reasons the idea originated from. If it ever was the primary mechanism, it would have died out quite quickly from obviously superior mechanisms (that are, nevertheless adaptive in the same intuitive sense for reproductive success). At least, that is my conclusion and thesis.
Looking at a particular *new* *beneficial* mutation that one time or another has to happen on a path to some species to another more adapted to a particular environment, the probablistic difficulties are similar in scope to what is envisaged in abiogenesis, but of course, having working and sophisticated superior mechanisms already in play is different from something where you really only have the laws of physics, chemistry and probability as envisaged with abiogenesis.
All efforts to demonstrate in principle either backwards from the simplest life we know, or forward from the most complex non-living carbon based systems we can imagine, have come up with a blank. It reminded me of the difficulties and paradoxes with Euclid's fifth Axiom, and also the paradox with measurements of the speed of light being constant at different relative speeds. Most who research abiogenesis in some way or another don't perceive the paradox so much as it being difficult to conceive and not having evidence to lead you in any way or another to point in the right direction.
My idea was to, like mathematicians in their time, presuming Euclids fifth axiom false, or Einstein in his time, presuming the speed of light to be constant at all relative velocities. If one presumes abiogenesis as currently framed to be not just difficult, but actually impossible, where does that leave us with naturalistic possibilities with the origin of life?
My idea was to make this a bold falsifiable theory, and hope that some evidence would actually bear on it to rule it out or not. Certainly it makes perfect sense to me, but I want to give all support and aid anyone who thinks it can be proven wrong by some experiment or new observation.
My alternative to a process of abiogenesis to go from no life to chemical life, is instead that chemical life is designed (in an evolutionary process of design) by a life form which is not directly chemical based. I was thinking along the lines of Hoyle's dust cloud life as something at a similar place in idea space. My other thought was that the proximal antecedent to chemical life would use its own life cycle as a kind of template for the first independent living cell, which would have to be something like an amoeba.
When I first saw the image of Hartley 103P with these abiogenesis ideas in my head, I felt that comets were the only real candidate for life's proximal antecedent. Over spans of thousands to millions of years, they use the interplanetary superhighway to move from orbit to orbit expending very little relative fuel. To reproduce, they expend a great deal of energy speeding up their spin in a controlled way, stretching into a bilobed shape then continuing the spin up and stretch until it is two almost independent bodies tethered by a long skinny neck, which tidal alignment would easily sever "the umbilical cord" and the two separate comets would go their separate ways.
In light of this, for most of their lifespan, comets would be completely "dormant" and essentially invisible. Thus dark "asteroids" like Bennu, which is likely to be visited soon enough should have almost all the same features as comets, bar the outgassing. The distinction between live/dormant comets and
dead asteroids would come down to colour - the lighter they are, the less likely they are to be just dormant, and features dominated by impacts rather than cometary flaking/stretching/outgassing would be a "dead" giveaway.
Anything opposite to this, I would feel would easily falsify my hypothesis. It being based on assuming abiogenesis as currently framed impossible, and comets being the proximal biological precedent. The former being broadly "M life theory" and the latter "living comet theory"
Quite frankly, I'd be very satisfied if they were falsified - my investment in the theories is based on an unshakeable hunch that they are right. I want to find evidence that they are wrong - please help me.
Posted by Marco Parigi at 11:51 pm
Sunday, March 08, 2015
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
With this explanation, I will use terms that may normally be associated with informatics. This is strictly in use for shorthand in the same way that "running the program" is expressing the genes that are associated with DNA that may or may not have mutated. It should be in no way taken to mean that it is scientifically accepted to use the arguments made of a Turing machine or computer science to come to conclusions in regards to Dna mechanisms.
Also, I am not big on citations. I may mention people like Popper, Wickramasinge, Lennox, etc. but not based on their authority on any subject or another. My thoughts are to be considered based on first principles, and perhaps more abstract like in a mathematical argument rather than a debate scored by a selected audience.
Looking at the synthesis in historical terms, it has evolved from Darwinism, where the main thrust is the origin of species. Life on earth, when exposed to a different environment will adapt to that environment over generations. This was documented and well observed in the Galapagos. Extrapolating from the changes in observed Galapagos species from mainland ones, to the length of time of the age of the earth, it is quite logical to extend that process to all known species. Naively, the process was seen to extrapolate back past the Last common ancestor, and Darwinism included abiogenesis in a kind of continuum from no life to the variety we see today. Now, in maths as in science, interpolation is always a safer bet than extrapolation, thus two species which are closely related in time, genetics and space can confidently have intermediates placed in there, and have a rough idea of smaller changes over time leading from one to another. Extrapolation beyond the last common ancestor is a completely different kettle of fish, because we have no evidence to go on at all, but at any rate, in a philosophical sense, belief in evolution is highly correlated to a belief in abiogenesis.
This leads on to the hypothesis of "how" adaptation happens. In the case where a beneficial mutation reflects a particular environmental "selection", I will use the shortcut that the environment "programs" that particular mutation. As said in the first paragraph, this is just a shortcut, in no way am I ascribing informatics to the process. In this sense it just means that selective pressures are colluding to give differential advantage to individuals and/or groups and/or populations that end up with that mutation. For the individual that first gets this mutation, this is like winning at the roulette wheel. Blind watchmaker analogies and the use of the word random imply that there need not, and probably is not any direct or indirect, partial or even trace causal interaction between the environment and the beneficial mutation. It is like the roulette wheels are assumed to be perfectly balanced, the programming is strictly done, and only done by selective pressures, which involves more successful reproduction and survival with than without.
Clearly the "goal" of a beneficial mutation is one which better enables survival in a (perhaps changed) environment, and of course the environment will have the final say, but Darwinially speaking, a more (even trivially more) efficient programming technique than that envisaged, by a "blind watchmaker" will *always* win over the completely causally unconnected technique. Thus just as "fitter" organisms will win over the less fit even at the cost of extinctions of some of the less fit species, so too fitter "programming systems" will win over "blind watchmaker" programming systems.
This is perhaps like saying that roulette wheels are trivially non-level, but professional gamblers that measure the level in secret, and know exactly how to win will consistently end up in front while everybody else will lose to the house.
The "environment" is replete with symbiotic organisms that are both part of the environment, react to environmental cues, cause trivially non-random mutations in other organisms (eg through causing stress, horizontal gene transfer, activity of viruses, transport of mutagens, etc.) and thus can allow organisms to "beat the house" of the blind watchmaker. Species that do not or cannot have these "programmer helpers" will have much less chance to thrive under new environmental stresses.
This is the crux of my argument that natural selection on random mutations *cannot* explain adaptation that is as efficient as observed in, for example resistance to pesticides, because more efficient adaptations win against naive randomness and brute force selection any day.
Posted by Marco Parigi at 8:42 pm