RE: "Evolution's Greatest Inventions."

From: bivalve <bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com>
Date: Sat Apr 30 2005 - 14:23:49 EDT

> I hope you can coordinate thinking with yawning. Note that I placed the word derive in quotes. I ask you, in what sense do these conclusions follow rigorously from the theory?
> > "Evolution's Greatest Inventions."
> > Inventions may be the right word. I am sure these are not "derived" from the theory as physicists derive predictions from their theories.

Discoveries might be a more appropriate term than inventions.

The problem is an inappropriate comparison. The laws of physics will tell me about what will happen in the earth-moon system, given some knowledge of their physical properties and a number of simplifying assumptions (e.g., no other objects having a significant effect). They cannot predict the existence of the earth or the moon.

Similarly, the laws of evolution can give us precise predictions about what will happen in a given simplified situation, e.g. the abundance of alleles of a gene in a population if we know the initial frequancy and the relative cost/benefit of each one. They cannot predict that the "inventions" listed would come into existence, but they can tell us about the costs and benefits of each.

One might similarly compile a list of "Greatest inventions of the laws of physics" enumerating things such as atoms and galaxies. The laws of physics in no way dictate that these must exist, but do tell how they will behave and develop if they do exist.

    Dr. David Campbell
    Old Seashells
    University of Alabama
    Biodiversity & Systematics
    Dept. Biological Sciences
    Box 870345
    Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
    bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com

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
Received on Sat Apr 30 14:26:41 2005

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