The Origin of Life (Electrical)

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:06 am

Hi there,


What do you think of when you hear these words used in a sentence:

Shaft, bearing, stator

One thing that comes to mind for me is a Motor. But guess again, that's not what
this post is about. It's about a microbiological entity that somehow has been able
to create itself (or has been created by something intelligent) that looks just like
a very tiny motor. It's called a bacterial flagellum, and it is what gives some
bacteria their motor movement. It's also amazing that the shafts of these things
can turn as fast as 100,000 RPM's (one hundred thousand RPM's).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellum

The idea is that this mechanism could not have followed Darwin's theory because
it is too complex in that all of the parts that make it up had to have been created
all at the same time because any one part would have been eliminated from the
organism before it had time to develop (evolve) the other parts, and Darwin's
theory states that the changes had to have been very slow over great periods
of time.

This ends up being very interesting and has been suggested by the scientists
as being proof of "Intelligent Design".
Personally, i believe in intelligent design, embodied in what we usually call "God".

Comments?
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

jimmy101
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:08 am
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by jimmy101 » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:58 pm

I believe the "all parts must have been created at the same time" part for the flagella "motor" has been pretty well disproved. The various parts (proteins) are all very similar to other proteins with other functions. That implies that the various parts (or precursors to the various parts) existed before the complete "motor".

"Irreducible complexity" has, to my knowledge, never come up with an example that holds up to basic modern molecular biology, let alone evolutionary theory.

If you read the wiki there are links to arguments against the "intelligent design" explanation for the complexity of the bacteria "motor".

My personal view is "intelligent design" is neither intelligent nor about "design". It is certainly bad science. A scientific model must accomplish two things to be valid. 1. It must explain the observable. 2. It must predict what will happen in an as yet undone experiment.

While "intelligent design" might be considered to fulfill the first requirement, it really doesn't fulfill either. "Because God wanted it that way" is not a scientific theory. It doesn't matter if it is true or not, it is not science. It poorly explains and provides zero predictive power.

User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:44 am

Hi Jimmy,


Well, another scientist starting looking at ways of determining intelligence from raw material
and came up with a few theories about that too, which also sheds some light on the
subject. This is the idea that some things found that were previously unknown can be
said to be of intelligent design because they have certain characteristics, and he says that
that this is science. For example, when hieroglyphics where first found no one knew who
made them or what they meant, but they *knew* right away that they were made by
something intelligent. They didnt know who made them or why, but they *knew* something
or someone made them because there were these certain characteristics that made them realize
that they could not have been made by nature alone. That scientist has come up with
a set of rules that determine what has been made naturally and what had to have been
made by some intelligence with some agenda in mind.

Also, if we were advanced enough to do terra-forming and stuff like that is there any wonder
that we may at some point in the future decide to try to send some bacteria to another
planet, perhaps in another solar system, to see how it fares? Or even some sort of more
advanced life. If it 'evolved' enough to gain the quality of self examination, would it then
ask itself the same question, "how did we get here?", and perhaps not understand yet that
something intelligent could have sent a sample of life to their planet and that started the
ball rolling for them too.
The earth started out as a fireball of around 8000 degrees F, which would kill all life as we
know it.

I'll check out the counter arguments you talked about next.

Ok, how about if i say that life came from a "more ancient system that was created by
intelligence", then do i get the big prize? :smile:
Because that's what they are saying: A evolved from B which evolved from C which
"probably evolved" from a more ancient system.
Gee now that's what i call a definitive answer ha ha.

Also, it's interesting that science is not God either. Science, at it's most basic level,
is still an interpretation...an interpretation of the universe. It's not the actual
universe. The universe is one thing, and science is another. The universe is physical,
or at least what we call physical in the present time (that may change too), and science
is an intellectual endeavor. Im certainly not against science in itself of course because
it can be so useful, but it also changes with time. Maybe we should ask ourselves if
science will ever stop changing.

You know what else is very interesting:
Darwin had no idea about these tiny complex systems when he first came up with his
theory. He looked at the whole and came up with a theory to explain that. Could he
have been such a good guesser that his theory also applies to very small, tiny things
like this too? It's not typical for this kind of explanation to carry over from the large to
the small, it's usually the other way around. The small can be used to define the large,
but the large can not be used to define the small except in one case that i know of,
and that is if you assume that the world is somehow constructed by fractals. I dont
think anyone believes this especially after the work done in sub atomic particle
studies. For example, you can explain how a brick is made by noticing the chemicals
used to form it and how it is baked, etc., but you can not use the brick itself as
a means to explain where the chemicals came from. We know the brick came from
the chemicals by examining the brick, but we dont know where the chemicals
came from by examining the brick...the brick itself does not tell us anything new.
Darwin knew about the brick, but he had no idea what was inside it, so he would
have had to be a very lucky guy to come up with a theory that explained the
brick and also where the chemicals came from at the same time.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

User avatar
CeaSaR
Posts: 1718
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Phoenixville, PA USA
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by CeaSaR » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:25 pm

I won't go into any theological debate here. Let me just say that the only true common theme is a set
of rules of how to treat one another. Nothing else.

Take note that what the person who discovered/drew/put together the description is actually using an
existing mechanical analogy to describe nature. Sounds more like reverse engineering than intelligent design.

Also, it could be pointed out that mankind is only as smart as its surroundings, basing the knowledge and
technology on only what can be observed. Perhaps the intelligent design is actually how well "we" can
duplicate mother nature.

On a side note, this Yahoo! headline came up today, most likely by coincidence. I wonder if the owners
knew what they had or if the placement was what they thought of it. :mrgreen:

CeaSaR
Hey, what do I know?

User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:45 am

Hi again,


They were going to throw it in the toilet and got sidetracked :smile:

Seriously though, the intelligent design ideas might undermine Darwin's
theory at the most basic level, but they dont refute it for relatively short
time periods like 10,000 years or something like that. In other words,
Darwin's theories do seem to explain how things like animals change over
time, and that has pretty much been proven, although it's hard to say if
this is a rule that applies to every animal or just most. In the brick
analogy Darwin's theory can explain how the brick weathers over time,
but it cant say where the particles that make up the brick came from
or how those particles came into being.

BTW, there was another guy who wrote a book about what he called
chemical evolution, which attempts to explain evolution at the CHEMICAL
level, not even biological yet! Some time after it was published however
he himself started to refute it because he found too many holes in the
theories behind it.

You know what else is interesting, even if we can eventually create life
in the laboratory that wont necessarily mean that it would be the only
way it was done in the past, or could be done in the future.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

jimmy101
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:08 am
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by jimmy101 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:38 am

You know what else is very interesting:
Darwin had no idea about these tiny complex systems when he first came up with his
theory. He looked at the whole and came up with a theory to explain that. Could he
have been such a good guesser that his theory also applies to very small, tiny things
like this too?


That is one of the most important, powerful, and difficult to refute "proofs" of the validity of Darwin's theories. (Actually though, scientist hate the word "proof" and rarely it. Mathematicians and lawyers use "proof", scientists usually don't.)

Darwin proposed a theory that makes certain predictions.
Many, many years later a new field of science (molecular biology) was developed of which Darwin had no concept.
When Darwin's theories were applied they explained a large number of features of the new field of molecular biology.
That explanation is very powerful supporting evidence for the validity of Darwin's theories.

People often get confused about how science works and what it does. Some think science is about "truth". It isn't. It makes no difference to a scientist if their theories are correct of not. Often, a scientist will use theories that are known to be incorrect but which are still useful. For example, at the most fundamental level Newtonian Mechanics is wrong. However for predicating things like ballistic trajectories Newtonian mechanics are accurate enough, and a heck of a lot simpler, than other theories. No scientist in their right mind would try to solve for a bullet's trajectory using quantum or statistical mechanics.

Science can not be about "truth" for a couple reasons.
1. Science is about measuring and predicting. If you are not doing the first, and usually the second, then you are not doing science.
2. Since the "truth" is intrinsically unknowable and unmeasurable scientist can not deal with it.
3. Since the "distance" form a theory (model, postulate, "law"...) to the "truth" is unmeasurable it is not in the domain of science.

At it's core science is practical and pragmatic. A theory must be useful and complexity for complexity sake is generally not tolerated. A useful theory is a good theory. That last point is really the core of science. Utility is really all that matters, "truth" is basically irrelevant.

"Intelligent design" is bad science. It makes no useful or testable predictions. It has no predictive powers. It fails miserably to explain perhaps the most important scientific studies of the last 50 years (and perhaps in human history); the description of DNA, genes, proteins, species, etc.

User avatar
Bob Scott
Posts: 1192
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Vancouver, BC
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by Bob Scott » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:56 am

The question about the origin of life? The answers could be

1. It evolved.

2. Intelligent Design (God) did it.

If #2, who created the Intelligent Designer?

It's so easy to answer questions when you have faith. Every answer can be answered by completely by anyone, even the most ignorant. Just say "God did it." "

Why is the sky blue, Dad?"
"God did it."
How did the braided rings of Jupiter form?
God did it.
The shepherding moons?
God did it.
-=VA7KOR=- My solar system includes Pluto.

User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:02 pm

Bob Scott wrote:The question about the origin of life? The answers could be

1. It evolved.

2. Intelligent Design (God) did it.

If #2, who created the Intelligent Designer?

It's so easy to answer questions when you have faith. Every answer can be answered by completely by anyone, even the most ignorant. Just say "God did it." "

Why is the sky blue, Dad?"
"God did it."
How did the braided rings of Jupiter form?
God did it.
The shepherding moons?
God did it.
Hi Bob,


Some interesting points for sure, but one of your questions is a little misleading,
according to present scientific knowledge. That question is:
"If #2, who created the Intelligent Designer?"

and that word 'created' is past tense, and because of that it may not be a valid
question on a "time" scale that is greater than the age of the universe. That's
because, according to science, not even "time" itself existed BEFORE the universe
was created. This means the question of anything past tense doesnt make any
sense anymore once we go back before the 'big bang' because there was no past.
Interesting? It's almost like science proves the existence of God the more it
advances.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

Dean Huster
Posts: 1263
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 1:01 am
Location: Harviell, MO (Poplar Bluff area)
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by Dean Huster » Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:23 pm

What do you think of when you hear these words used in a sentence:

Shaft, bearing, stator
I must be getting old. The first thing I thought of was an air dielectric variable capacitor -- you know, the heart of tuning in a 1940 model Zenith.
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

Robert Reed
Posts: 2276
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:01 am
Location: ASHTABULA,OHIO
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by Robert Reed » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:07 pm

Not at all Dean- you merely thought you were entering an electronics forum :eek:

User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:43 am

Hi Robert,


I thought it was interesting that it looked so much like a motor :smile: and people here might be
interested...if not that's ok too. It looks like it's turning into a God vs Science argument though
doesnt it? I didnt really want that to happen either, just for people to see how cool this
thing was.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

User avatar
CeaSaR
Posts: 1718
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Phoenixville, PA USA
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by CeaSaR » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:48 am

MrAl,

I noticed, in your link, the diagram of Flagellum of Gram-negative Bacteria. The orange area is known as the
MS-ring. I didn't know Bill Gates was in on cellular construction! In his case, it's more a case of copycat design
rather than intelligent design. The real intelligence there is in the marketing! ... :mrgreen:

CeaSaR

P.S. I did say I wasn't going to into theological debate here, so I deleted my rant thereof originally at the beginning
of this post.
Hey, what do I know?

User avatar
haklesup
Posts: 2978
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2002 1:01 am
Location: San Jose CA
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by haklesup » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:05 pm

Nova did a show on this topic a few months ago and covered it fairly well.

As far as I am concerned, belief in God is a purely a faith thing. All this wrangling over how God may have created life is a pointless excersize designed to satisfy (justify) someones view of their beliefs (afterall we're only human so we can't know all, even today). Proof that God designed life (if that were to happen) would only diminish God's roll to that of a super intellegent Alien not unlike many plot lines in the SG-1 series and a handfill of plots in the Star Trek series.

Even if someday someone creates a mathmatical model (and physical experiment) of how entropy can be used to create self replicating systems or incresing complexity (Life), there will still be plenty of room to give God credit for that too. The problem is that most religions are either incapable or very slow at adapting their beliefs to newfound information. So many persons are just hung up on the idea that the methods of practice of their religion are the only methods that will satisfy God. Just look at todays wars for example, some go so far as to believe their God wants others to be killed for not worshipping correctly.

In any case, like any other very complex system, Religion and Science form a regulated feedback system (both provide negative feedback to regulate the other). For without one the other would run rampant. A world without religion would probably lack compassion and morals while a world without Science can lead to loss of freedom (the dark ages) and certainly loss of comfort (no TV, no Toilet and the list goes on). Both have saved and cost countless lives.

User avatar
MrAl
Posts: 3862
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: NewJersey
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by MrAl » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:42 am

Hi hackle,


Some very good observations there. I would not want to see churches disappear nor science.
We seem to need both. It gets out of line when either one wants to get rid of the other, and
it's been tried many times over the years and still hasnt stopped.

Yeah, the sad part is when people try to use God to kill their neighbors. They just want an
excuse to get rid of them for some other reason but claim it is because of their religion.
That helps to give religion a bad rap.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

jimmy101
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:08 am
Contact:

Re: The Origin of Life (Electrical)

Post by jimmy101 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:08 am

Even if someday someone creates a mathematical model (and physical experiment) of how entropy can be used to create self replicating systems or increasing complexity (Life)

Why the focus on entropy?

Mentioning entropy without enthalpy is like talking about voltage without current. One is nonsensical without the other.

There are many systems that spontaneously proceed from higher entropy (more disorder) to lower entropy (more order). There is nothing unusual about that and is thermodynamically allowed.

I believe life on earth evolved as a side affect of the huge amount of energy that the sun has dumped onto our planet. The entire system (sun + earth + life) has proceeded to lower free energy as thermodynamics requires. Thermodynamics does not require that all parts of that system must proceed to higher entropy, it only requires that the total energy of the system (enthalpy and entropy) decreases.

Increasing entropy leads to decreasing total free energy, dG =dH - TdS. dG is the change in free energy, dH is the change in enthalpy (basically heat), T is the absolute temperature and dS is the change in entropy. A closed system spontaneously (though not necessarily quickly) proceeds to lower dG. Some think that means dH must be negative and dS must be positive (because of the minus sign on dS) but that is not true. The only thermodynamic requirement is that dG is negative. dH and dS must just satisfy the equation, there possible magnitudes and signs have no other constraints.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests