Sunday, October 9, 2011

Life's Solution: Specific Notes and Quotes

Here I'm just going to make a record of my dog-eared pages from Life's Solution for future reference for myself. Feel free to look over my shoulder:

p.120-126 "Play It Again!" section.If anything, the role of convergent paths in evolution of E.Coli has been enhanced since this book same out in 2003. I'd like to do some of this myself ... How is it that Figure 6.3 can separate out adaptation from chance from history?

p.230 "Interstellar Nervous Systems?" section. Sodium pumps are found all over the place. This has been pinned down for the electrical eel recently. I wonder if there's more to see with this particular molecule's convergence.

p.266 Conway Morris directly addresses the point of qualia that Douglas Hofstadter mentions as well. It's worth noting that Hofstadter and Conway Morris (ahem) converge on this point. What do similarities in neural structure say about the question of "the redness of red" for philosophy?

p.288 Oxygen transport proteins convergence: I didn't know hemoglobin/myoglobin was found in so many places. Could that be a convergent structure? How would we know?

p.295 The Molecules Converge: Basically a 2003-era list of what I'm really interested in: convergent proteins. So many references, so little time!

p.297 "If convergent evolution is an 'eternal return' to the 'attractors' of functionality, then we cannot be surprised that history repeats itself." Then the fact that the hammerhead ribozyme is convergent.

p.307 "Yet, when within the animals we see the emergence of larger and more complex brains, sophisticated vocalizations, echolocation, electrical perception, advanced social systems including eusociality, viviparity, warm-bloodedness, and agriculture -- all of which are convergent -- then to me that sounds like progress."

p.313 A GK Chesterton sighting! "Reason and justice grip the remotest and loneliest star." (From Father Brown's first story.) The following description of planets made of gems sounds like a passage from Doctor Who! My "anglophilia" brain area is lighting up.

p.325 Eugenics and the morally ambiguous nature of progress, again in line with GK Chesterton. I'm going to have to keep assigning his book in Biochemistry ...
quotes John Green: "To the very end, [Darwin] failed to appreciate the morally ambiguous character of human progress. He failed because, like many social scientists today, he had no adequate conception of Man." I think Gould and Dawkins are keen to decry "progress" in evolution because they can only accept an unambiguously progressive formulation of progress. If progress is seen as ambiguous, then yes, you can say you see it in the natural world and the evolution of man.

For more on progress and anti-Gould rhetoric I should look up McKinney, Science, vol. 237, p. 575, 1987.

p.329 The six-point outline of "what salient facts of evolution are congruent with a Creation." Let me try my hand at summarizing them:

1.) Biochemical simplicity (building blocks)
2.) A method of navigating the vast possibilities (a mechanism like protein folding)
3.) The sensitivity of the process
4.) How life rearranges and adapts the old rather than building something brand new
5.) Many paths/branches but converging again and again on certain characteristics/structures
6.) The inevitable (and broad occurence) of intelligence, coming from complete sensing of the world.


PNG said...

In regard to planets made of gems, did you read that the astronomers have found a planet made of diamond? Life imitates sci-fi!

Ben McFarland said...

I had totally forgotten about that news bit till you reminded me. I've have to dig up the full quote, it has amazing relevance!