Questions about evolution?
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13-06-2013, 07:56 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 04:46 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  I get that species evolve through mutation and then natural selection, but if an animal mutates into a more desirable form, how does it reproduce? Would it reproduce with its 'old species' (i know that not correct, not quite sure hoe to phrase it though). What causes these mutations? Thanks for your responses i've been searching online, but I can't find a website or youtube channel that can explain complex things, any suggestions are welcomed.

Species don't evolve via mutation or natural selection.

Mutation is a process that introduces variability in the gene pool. It is the equivalent of having a jar full of white marbles, and changing a percentage of them each day (or whatever a generational time is for any given species) to a different color. More variability, means that each given draw from the jar has a chance of being different. And some of these draws result in an improvement for the individual (such as sickle cell anemia providing immunity to malaria) while sometimes it provides a decrease in fitness and is a disadvantage (like sickle cell anemia and decreased ability to carry oxygen in the blood). Hopefully the example shows how it is not always clear-cut advantage or disadvantage.

And natural selection is the process where these adaptations are selected for or against. Via sexual selection, or predation pressure, or changes in climate. Natural selection acts on the population.

All of these together, plus time, lead to changes as the organisms adapt to these changes in climate, predators/prey, and pressures from within their own species.

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17-06-2013, 09:53 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
Thank you all, I think it makes more sense now. I plan to read those books you suggested, and I hope to read the god delusion as well. I have one final question, since the human genome project, we now have an understanding of each gene that makes us, am I correct? If this is so, could we tweak these genes slightly? Make immune systems stronger and no more children born handicapped, or is this just mad science?

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. -Laurence J. Peter
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17-06-2013, 10:01 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(17-06-2013 09:53 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Thank you all, I think it makes more sense now. I plan to read those books you suggested, and I hope to read the god delusion as well. I have one final question, since the human genome project, we now have an understanding of each gene that makes us, am I correct? If this is so, could we tweak these genes slightly? Make immune systems stronger and no more children born handicapped, or is this just mad science?

No, we don't understand our genome yet - just parts, and not those completely.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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17-06-2013, 10:03 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(17-06-2013 10:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(17-06-2013 09:53 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Thank you all, I think it makes more sense now. I plan to read those books you suggested, and I hope to read the god delusion as well. I have one final question, since the human genome project, we now have an understanding of each gene that makes us, am I correct? If this is so, could we tweak these genes slightly? Make immune systems stronger and no more children born handicapped, or is this just mad science?

No, we don't understand our genome yet - just parts, and not those completely.

We have fully mapped our Genome but that is like saying that since Lewis and Clark mapped the western united states they knew about plate tectonics and continental drift.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense

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18-06-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(17-06-2013 09:53 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Thank you all, I think it makes more sense now. I plan to read those books you suggested, and I hope to read the god delusion as well. I have one final question, since the human genome project, we now have an understanding of each gene that makes us, am I correct? If this is so, could we tweak these genes slightly? Make immune systems stronger and no more children born handicapped, or is this just mad science?

Yeah we have mapped the genome and we can even print genes that we have sequenced (a scientist printed some small microbes a few years back) but doing anything with it will be a long slow and difficult process until we have some REALLY SMART computers...

Basically what we have is the byte code that makes up an organism, millions of AGCT molecules that serve as instructions....When a computer programmer wants to add a feature to say MS word, he does it in a high level language (in this case probably C#) and then the computer changes that into binary code at his command (generally one small changes means the whole program gets re-compiled from english and math into 1's and 0's). Giving a man gills or a super immune system with our current methods would be the equivalent of trying to write windows 7 by editing windows XPs binary code by hand. There is no high level language for DNA.

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18-06-2013, 08:26 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(18-06-2013 08:18 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  
(17-06-2013 09:53 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Thank you all, I think it makes more sense now. I plan to read those books you suggested, and I hope to read the god delusion as well. I have one final question, since the human genome project, we now have an understanding of each gene that makes us, am I correct? If this is so, could we tweak these genes slightly? Make immune systems stronger and no more children born handicapped, or is this just mad science?

Yeah we have mapped the genome and we can even print genes that we have sequenced (a scientist printed some small microbes a few years back) but doing anything with it will be a long slow and difficult process until we have some REALLY SMART computers...

Basically what we have is the byte code that makes up an organism, millions of AGCT molecules that serve as instructions....When a computer programmer wants to add a feature to say MS word, he does it in a high level language (in this case probably C#) and then the computer changes that into binary code at his command (generally one small changes means the whole program gets re-compiled from english and math into 1's and 0's). Giving a man gills or a super immune system with our current methods would be the equivalent of trying to write windows 7 by editing windows XPs binary code by hand. There is no high level language for DNA.

Whether there is a high-level language for DNA is not known.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-06-2013, 08:38 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(18-06-2013 08:26 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-06-2013 08:18 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  Yeah we have mapped the genome and we can even print genes that we have sequenced (a scientist printed some small microbes a few years back) but doing anything with it will be a long slow and difficult process until we have some REALLY SMART computers...

Basically what we have is the byte code that makes up an organism, millions of AGCT molecules that serve as instructions....When a computer programmer wants to add a feature to say MS word, he does it in a high level language (in this case probably C#) and then the computer changes that into binary code at his command (generally one small changes means the whole program gets re-compiled from english and math into 1's and 0's). Giving a man gills or a super immune system with our current methods would be the equivalent of trying to write windows 7 by editing windows XPs binary code by hand. There is no high level language for DNA.

Whether there is a high-level language for DNA is not known.

I suppose there could be one if say it where an alien technology that created us all, but I'd say the safe bet is that one does not exist, everything we know about evolution suggests that DNA is written at the 'byte level' though trial and error (aka natural selection).

In any event if a high level lang exists for DNA we certainly don't have the complier for it... Which is not to say that we could not some day create a high level language for DNA, that would would be a dream come true for humanity if used responsibly.

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18-06-2013, 10:59 AM
Question RE: Questions about evolution?
Hmm... Interesting, it seems that there is more to be learned than I had thoughtDrinking Beverage. I have yet another question, I was watching a video by Richard Dawkins where he explained the evolution of the eye. He talked about an organism receiving a cell sensitive to light, then slowly it curves and fills with jelly making a clearer picture, right? My question is how does that organism get the light-sensitive cell in the first place?

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18-06-2013, 11:43 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(18-06-2013 10:59 AM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Hmm... Interesting, it seems that there is more to be learned than I had thoughtDrinking Beverage. I have yet another question, I was watching a video by Richard Dawkins where he explained the evolution of the eye. He talked about an organism receiving a cell sensitive to light, then slowly it curves and fills with jelly making a clearer picture, right? My question is how does that organism get the light-sensitive cell in the first place?

Random mutation. We are talking about the bare basics here, everything evolves from that point...On vs. Off. Is there measurable light or is there no measurable light. Plants are sensitive to light but they have no eyes.

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18-06-2013, 12:51 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2013 12:58 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: Questions about evolution?
(18-06-2013 10:59 AM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  Hmm... Interesting, it seems that there is more to be learned than I had thoughtDrinking Beverage. I have yet another question, I was watching a video by Richard Dawkins where he explained the evolution of the eye. He talked about an organism receiving a cell sensitive to light, then slowly it curves and fills with jelly making a clearer picture, right? My question is how does that organism get the light-sensitive cell in the first place?

Cyanobacteria have photoreceptive cells used for processing sunlight into energy. This is believed to be the earliest precursor of the eye. A very good book on the subject is Evolution's Witness: How Eyes Evolved (2012). Just be forewarned that it is a very specialized book (and pricey too). You need to have a solid background in evolutionary history to truly appreciate it.
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