Re: [asa] Molecular Biology and Design

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Dec 30 2008 - 18:17:55 EST

Mike,
I wasn't questioning your statements. Just asking (sort of
tongue-in-cheek) for clarification wherever it may be available.

You see, when I am in a state science standards committee, and someone
stands up and says that another person's testimony is invalid and must be
ignored because that person is "only an engineer" then I think the process
of government is being gerrymandered.
Nevermind that the critic herself has a degree, not in science, but in
"science education", and the subject of the criticism [the alleged
engineer] has published over 300 scientific papers and is a polymer chemist
who gives his grad students assignments on polymer formation as part of a
hypothetical abiogenesis process on a hypothetical primitive earth.

So, my guess is its very relevant to public policy whether engineers do or
don't have something to valid to say in their fields of expertise.

Also, please let me quote from another thread:

Bernie replied: > Why is that important, when you have universes
constantly popping into existence, the vast majority of them being
non-viable? If this has been going on forever (new universes
constantly being produced), why is probability important or even
considered? If you get a fraction of universes viable from an almost
infinite set, that's a lot of universes!<

Bernie has a very valid question. But as far as I know, and I get this from
my biochem books, molecular biology is based quite a bit on probability
calculations.

One book discusses why we think, for example, that two organism are related
based on coding for producing a certain protein sequence. Some sequences
are so unlikely to have arisen in two places independently that scientists
assume there was only one origin, but that 60 million years later the
coding was inherited by two otherwise unrelated lineages that we now know
were descended from that common organism. Thus they look for common
descent. And that is quite reasonable. Its one of the main reasons to
believe in common descent (and to believe in evolution). But if probability
is an insufficent basis for the assumption (because an infinite number of
trials produces an infinite sample set) there is no reason to believe in the
connection between the organisms.

 So, I agree, the molecular clock idea is kind of important to the science.

Now, to be fair to Bernie (or anyone), the sample set within one universe is
not the same as all the samples in all the universes, unless one evalulates
the partition functions. One needs to look at the Boltzmann factor for an
infinite set of universes that contains various distributions of universes
that contain life. I don't know how to do that. BUT someone who wants to
draw a conclusion about the worthlessness of the probabilities had best do
the calculations on a model with a set of proposed ensembles.
I think that needs to be done formally.

Meanwhile we have probability in our one known universe. Molecular biology
works here - and the question is whether probabilistic concepts work here.
I think they certainly do.

Best Regards,
David Clounch

On Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 3:57 PM, Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:

> Hi Dave,
>
>
>
> You ask, "Are you saying that chemical engineers (and polymer chemists)
> actually have something to say about biology?"
>
>
>
> I don't know enough about chemical engineers or polymer chemists to say. But
> I am saying what I said.
>
>
>
> 1. Biology is one of the most rapidly advancing sciences right now largely
> because of molecular biology.
>
>
>
> I'm not sure anyone can deny this.
>
>
>
> 2. And molecular biology was institutionalized when scientists imported
> engineering concepts into biology.
>
>
>
> This seems solid to me. I illustrated this in two ways. First, I
> conveyed how a mainstream molecular biologist would describe protein
> synthesis. Second, I quoted from Lewontin, who noted that some of the
> most pivotal experiments/papers in the history of molecular biology "would
> have been conceptually impossible without the metaphor of the code."
>
>
>
> 3. I also noted that molecular biology, with its embedded engineering
> concepts, has been transforming our understanding of developmental biology
> and evolution in ways that are very friendly to front-loading.
>
>
>
> -Mike
>
> Biology is one of the most rapidly advancing sciences right now largely
> because of molecular biology. And molecular biology was institutionalized
> when scientists imported engineering concepts into biology.
>
>>
>>
>> See: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/molecular-biology/
>>
>>
>>
> Mike,
>
> Are you saying that chemical engineers (and polymer chemists) actually have
> something to say about biology?
>
> -Dave
>
> PS.
> There's a related article mentioned:
> http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/causation-mani/
>
> I think one could start reading this stanford site and not come up for air
> for a long long time.
>
>

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Received on Tue Dec 30 18:18:29 2008

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