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  Topic: Science Break, Selected Shorts< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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Joined: Sep. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2012,11:40   

From Sean Carroll's Cosmic Variance  blog:

Toward a general theory of evolution: Extending Darwinian theory to inanimate matter  
Addy Pross

Though Darwinian theory dramatically revolutionized biological understanding, its strictly biological focus has resulted in a widening conceptual gulf between the biological and physical sciences. In this paper we strive to extend and reformulate Darwinian theory in physicochemical terms so it can accommodate both animate and inanimate systems, thereby helping to bridge this scientific divide. The extended formulation is based on the recently proposed concept of dynamic kinetic stability and data from the newly emerging area of systems chemistry. The analysis leads us to conclude that abiogenesis and evolution, rather than manifesting two discrete stages in the emergence of complex life, actually constitute one single physicochemical process. Based on that proposed unification, the extended theory offers some additional insights into life’s unique characteristics, as well as added means for addressing the three central questions of biology: what is life, how did it emerge, and how would one make it?

Quoting Sean:  
It’s a paper by a chemist, published in the Journal of Systems Chemistry, but doesn’t seem to require much in the way of specialized knowledge in order to read it, have a look. The central idea seems to be something called “dynamic kinetic stability.” A stable system is one that doesn’t change over time; a dynamic-kinetically stable system is one that doesn’t change in some particular features, but only by taking advantage of some other kind of change. The water in a river flows, but what we think of as “the river” remains fairly stable over time; an organism metabolizes, but maintains its structure for an extended period; individuals within a population come and go, while the population itself can be stable.

ETA: Also check the "comments" section, where Larry Moran and John Wilkins weigh in.

Edited by sledgehammer on Feb. 20 2012,10:33

The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is alleviated by their lack of consistency. -A. Einstein  (H/T, JAD)
If evolution is true, you could not know that it's true because your brain is nothing but chemicals. ?Think about that. -K. Hovind

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