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Posts Tagged ‘Evolution’

It is by now common wisdom that our current financial crisis is due in large part to misplaced incentives in our financial system. Analysts and fund managers were rewarded for short-term thinking and risk-taking. If we can rework our financial system to reward long-term, careful planning, it is often argued, we can avoid collapses like this in the future.

While I agree that misplaced incentives were a fundamental problem, the question of how to change this is rather more deep and complex than I think many people realize.

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Heng, et al recently published a review paper that brings together and touches on many different aspects of cancer complexity.  I thought this an opportunity to selectively quote the paper and organize the quotes loosely around various complex systems concepts they relate to.  I’m curious whether this makes sense to readers of this blog, or whether there’s too much unexplained jargon and too many large conceptual leaps.  Please ask questions or make comments freely below.

One preface I think will help is to understand that genome, karyotype and chromosome refer roughly to the same thing.  Here are several schematics that I will present without explanation that together illustrate how genes relate to genome/karyotype/chromosome structure, and how that in turn relates to the so-called genetic network (loosely equivalent to the “proteome”).  Of course “gene” is an outdated and inaccurate concept, so don’t get too hung up looking for genes here, just understand that they are sub-structural elements of the genome.

From MSU website

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In Juan Enriquez’ TED talk earlier this year, he made the point that humans have entered a new phase of evolution, one that has not been seen on before modern humans and their technology.  This, of course, is one of the main theses of Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near, and the main justification for the creation of The Singularity Institute (plus related Singularity Summit), and now just recently, Singularity University.

Lest you think the concept of Homo Evolutis — a species that can control its own evolutionary path by radically extend healthy human lifespan and ultimately merging with its technology — is a fringe concept share by sci-fi dreamers who don’t have a handle on reality, check out the list of people in charge of Singularity University (link above), the Board members of the Lifeboat Foundation, and throw in Stephen Hawking for good measure, who says, “Humans Have Entered a New Phase of Evolution“.  These people not only have a handle on reality, they have the combined power, resources and influence to shape reality.

For those who are still skeptical of the premise of Homo Evolutis, I present the strongest piece of evidence yet: it’s been featured on The Oprah Show.  QED?

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As an occasional reader of science blogs, I can’t help but notice the extraordinary amount of time and space devoted to the debunking of Creationist and Intelligent Design “science.” Certainly there are good reasons for this: the poor reasoning and scant evidence behind such pseudoscience makes it an easy target, and the surprising momentum of the Creationist political agenda represents a genuine threat to American science education.

Still, I can’t help but feel that the focus on Creationism’s pseudoscientific claims have obscured what is really a debate about beliefs and values, not science. Moreover, the discourse on blogs often reflects a view that religion (of all forms) is inherently opposed to evolution, and that no intelligent person could possibly believe in both.

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Has anyone played Foldit, the protein-folding game that is designed to advance the science?  This Wired article makes it sound like Ender’s Game meets biochemistry!  Sounds like the Poehlman kid is the protein-folding equivalent of Stephen Wiltshire.  I love the crowdsourcing, the meta-evolutionary algorithm of it (to find the savants), and the implications for science.

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Yesterday’s puzzler was to guess the species being talked about here:

One became super efficient at gobbling up its food, doing so at a rate that was about a hundred times faster than the other. The other was slower at acquiring food, but produced about three times more progeny per generation.

The answer is…

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Guess What Species?

Without doing a text search (that would be cheating), guess what species is being referred to in this quote about the evolution of competing strategies:

One became super efficient at gobbling up its food, doing so at a rate that was about a hundred times faster than the other. The other was slower at acquiring food, but produced about three times more progeny per generation.

Answer in tomorrow’s post.

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