From: bivalve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 12:24:03 EDT
>It seems that biotic structures can not *in principle* be understood by appealing only to the laws of Physics.<
Their formation does not appear to require any violation of the laws of physics. This is ironically highlighted by the appeals to improbability made against evolution. Get all the right molecules in the right places under the right conditions and there is no physical reason why you would not have life. What the requisite ingredients and conditions are, and thus what probabilities we might assign, are still highly problematic, but it is not evident that one can make a qualitative difference here.
>My intuition is based on the gulf dividing between "molecular ensembles" and "cells" - does anyone know of anything that would narrow this gap? This is very serious issue. I would like to know how big the gap really is.<
One could describe cells as molecular ensembles. The gap between the molecular ensembles so far synthesized and those in the simplest living cells is still sizable (though we can manufacture artifical viruses). However, it remains an active area of discovery, so sweeping declarations of what will or will not be explained are premature. Only about 250 genes or so seem necessary for life.
>Does anyone know if Howard's Dec 2002 article available on line? I checked the PSCF archive and they don't have it posted yet.<
I think the lag is about a year and a half.
Dr. David Campbell
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa
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