Sticks In The Air / Pino ? Quadrophenia
amck at thenetdr.com
Mon Jun 14 10:15:57 CDT 2004
>Date: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 10:16:24 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Marcus Surrealius <bushchoked at yahoo.com>
>To take Scott's role for a second, some scientist
>calculated the odds of amino acids forming randomly
>and they were something like a one followed by a
>hundred thousand zeroes
Problem is, they *don't* form randomly. Each possible combination of
atoms/molecules is selected or discarded (lives or dies) according to
how stable it is and how readily it can reproduce.
Think of a set of, say, 200 wheels lined up with the edges facing
you, and with all the letters of the alphabet written along the edge.
Spinning all 200 wheels simultaneously, over and over, would give
almost no chance of reproducing a line from Shakespeare.
Specifically, doing a spin of all 200 wheels each and every second,
it would take 3 followed by 275 zeros YEARS -- many times longer than
the age of the Universe -- to produce a single desired
(200-character) line. But what if you
1) start with a specific line in mind, and
2) stop spinning each wheel that happens to land on the correct
letter of its position in the line?
By spinning only the wheels showing wrong letters, you can reproduce
the line relatively quickly. I can't reproduce the math here, but
just by chance, you'd expect 7 or 8 out of the 200 wheels to hit the
correct letter on the VERY FIRST SPIN, and never have to be spun
again. At a spin per second, you should be done in less than a day.
Working toward a known line serves as a means of not only eliminating
randomness but of fantastically reducing the time needed to achieve
In the same way, the ability to self-replicate (and [eons later], to
live and adapt to environmental conditions) serves as both an engine
to generate and a standard by which to preserve robust, viable
molecular combinations, and to eliminate unstable ones. The process
of combining atoms/molecules may have been initially random, but
which combinations survive and evolve is not. The existence of very
complicated amino acids, cells, animals etc. is not proof of a
supervising intelligence or an unknown process putting them all
"the average Texan...carries not just a gun but a SHOTGUN."
--Pete Townshend, 1967
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