Monday, April 2, 2007

Wobbly Genes

Say you have a population of frogs in a pond. The number of adult frogs is governed by available froggy food, froggy predators, froggy diseases etc and also governs the size of the new generation of frogs. And these same constraints decide the number of adult frogs in the next generation at reproduction time. So you have a recursive system; the outcome of the previous generation sets the starting condition of the next. I hope you can see that such a system if you track its progress through a host of recursions is sensitive to the condition of the previous incarnation; its initial conditions.

This is the basic concept behind Chaos Theory ie does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas or sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

One of the implications of Chaos Theory is that the systems exhibiting this dependency are sensitive to impulses but after a period of instability as a result of such impulses they standardly find a new point of stability. Like a spinning top on a dimpled surface; a jog will move it from its orginal dimple and make it wobble but with enough spin it will eventually settle in a new dimple.

There are biology theorists that are using this characteristic to look at evolution afresh. They suggest that it is valid to look at genetics as one of these systems. A jog from a population’s environment will cause genes to move from a stable morphology, have a wobble-experiment with a bunch of different forms and finally settle to a new solution for survival (with the inference that the jog influences the system towards a successful but still unpredictable result). These theorists explain the potential biological forms available from a genetic set as a convoluted surface of stable dips and valleys (not necessarily three dimensions though ~evil grin~).

Apparently this concept does explain some of the more difficult problems with previous theories of evolution with regard to the mechanism of mutation and species differentiation.

Maybe there was or will be just such a jog to make humanity to think and act, not globalisation. >:{(}

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