Re: Challenge

From: Moorad Alexanian (
Date: Fri Oct 12 2001 - 09:47:37 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: Challenge"

    You can use the word evolution in everything you say and do. The challenge
    is to relate the evolutionary theorIES to the practical sciences and I am
    sure that there is none! Moorad

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2001 11:10 AM
    Subject: Re: Challenge

    > Moorad writes:
    > >There is only one Noble prize in physics that has anything to do
    > >with the Big Bang-- Penzias and Wilson 1978--and that was an
    > >accidental discovery not influenced by theoretical work on the early
    > >universe. Of course, our interpretation of the radiation being the
    > >remnant of the Big Band may change in the future. My challenge to
    > >those who know the field of physiology or medicine, etc. is the
    > >following: What Nobel Prize granted in such fields was the result of
    > >applications of evolutionary theory? I enclose the press release of
    > >this year's prize in physiology or medicine. Moorad
    > [...]
    > I'd say evolutionary _theorIES_ rather than theory.
    > Hmmm... Are Nobels generally awarded for applications of a theory
    > or elucidation of the theory itself and/or mechanisms which lead
    > to the theory? I think it's generally the latter. This is particularly
    > true for the award in physiology and medicine where Nobels for
    > research tend to lag the initial discovery until long after
    > applications are found and the impact of the work is generally
    > appreciated. The most recent example is Hartwell, Hunt & Nurse;
    > they got the award about 20 years after the fact.
    > Note that most Nobels given in relation to organismal biology come
    > under the area of physiology and medicine, not biology in general.
    > Consequentially, most are related to the elucidation of fundamental
    > biochemical mechanisms of organisms. That's why I wouldn't expect
    > to ever see an award for work in paleontology.
    > Similarly, most of the work cited relates to studies of evolution
    > in terms of discovering mechanisms underlying evolution.
    > Starting from the earliest - Particularly pertinent would be:
    > 1933: Thomas Hunt Morgan's work on fly genomics. His research had
    > major impact on evolutionary studies and the "Modern synthesis"
    > in which genetic research was merged with the study of evolution.
    > During that period, Morgan was thoroughly aware of the relationship
    > of his work to theories of evolutionary mechanisms.
    > 1946: Hermann Muller's work on Xrays and mutation.
    > Other, earlier work on the nature of DNA and related biochemical
    > discoveries included: Lederberg, Beadle & Tatum (1958 - Genetic
    > and mechanisms); Watson, Crick & Wilkins (1962 - Structure of DNA);
    > Jacob, Lwoff & Monod (1965 - Genetic control mechanisms), Rous
    > (1966 - Tumor transforming viruses), Khorana, Holley & Nirenberg
    > (1968 - Genetic code); Delbruck, Luria & Hershey (1969 way too late,
    > IMHO - Replication & genetics of viruses). All of these have provided
    > the early foundations for studies of evolutionary genetics and if
    > one reads their biographies or collections of papers, one will see
    > that most were aware of the relationships of their work to evolutionary
    > mechanisms and development.
    > Perhaps missing from the list of Nobels is Sewall Wright for his
    > work on inheritance and evolutionary genetics, which never seemed to
    > clearly fall into the category of "physiology and medicine". The same
    > could be said for many others.
    > Outside of the "physiology and medicine" award:
    > Interestingly, Nobel awards in economics often find application in
    > evolutionary biology. The study of markets and game theories, which
    > all involve components of selection, have influenced and have been
    > influenced by evolutionary biology, particularly behavioral
    > evolution.
    > Note also that there are no Nobel prizes in mathematics. This would
    > tend to bias against recognition of the areas of neural networks
    > and applications of genetic algorithms. Such work has received
    > internationally recognized awards; just never a Nobel (not directly,
    > at least).
    > Overall, I think it's a tad early to expect Nobels from _applications_
    > of evolutionary theories. For example, the application of evolutionary
    > mechanisms to drug design and research is less than a decade old. DNA
    > computers have been demonstrated but probably won't make it as a
    > mature technology. Genetic algorithms have found many applications in
    > engineering but it's still relatively new and not a likely subject for a
    > Nobel.
    > Regards,
    > Tim Ikeda (
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