Non Genetic Darwinism
Although everything you say in this article is true, and correct, a new branch of Evolution-like effects has been noted, resulting often in self-organization in non-genetic instances. An example is Dr. Edelman's Nobel Prize for determining that the human immune system seems to operate in a way that has little to do with genetics, and evolves at a much faster rate.
More Recently he has been working on a theory of Neural Group Selection in Neurons, that takes self-organization in neural groups to the point of developing self-organizing maps. You might be interested in the many books he has written on the subject.--Graeme E. Smith 23:43, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
- Thanks and very interesting. I just started this article and I've got plenty of things to add. I'm interested in not only what the evolutionary synthesis of the mid-twentieth century was, but what its incarnation might be in modern times.
Would you like to join me in this project? --AFriedman 15:33, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
The Entropy Perspective
I'd be glad to help, this next item might not be exactly mainstream science but I hope it helps you understand where I am coming from
As you may know, recently there has been an attempt to rediscover the second law of thermodynamics, because we now know that the old version of the law is not applicable because it assumes equilibrium which is a much rarer state than originally thought. Since the second law is the basis of the Entropic principle this must mean that we also take a second look at entropy, which opens it up for discussion.
Chemists have long known that it was entropy within the chemical solution that determined whether or not a chemical combination would react. This suggests that instead of just breaking down systems as they become more entropic, entropy is also involved in self-organization at the molecular level.
What does all this have to do with Evolution you ask? Simply put, I see evolution as the natural result of energy/entropy balance. If so, the viewpoint of evolution as a purely genetic process, ignores the fact that there might be millions of different evolution like systems that make up the universe as a whole.
Have you ever heard of the Evolution Algorythm? it is a simple three part algorythm requiring:
A general gradient
Something to perturb that gradient
A test that determines that a portion of the population will be pruned
Of course this only works if you are in population thinking mode, and thus assume that there is a population generally drifting according to the gradient. What happens is that individuals are lifted out of the gradient temporarily, and then the whole population tested, As a result of the test, a portion of the population mostly those too far down the gradient, will be pruned, making the rest of the population move in a direction away from the test, and therefore counter to the gradient.
The result is Evolution, a change in the nature of the population that seems to climb the gradient instead of drifting in its direction.
Whether you believe me or not, This means that we can build an evolutionary algorythm out of The interface between Entropy and Energy, Entropy is the natural gradient, energy perturbs that gradient, and survival of energy pockets becomes the test, that determines how nature is formed. Everything in the Universe could be seen to be made up of energy stranded in pockets away from the general cooling effect of Entropy. All we need is something that captures some of the energy and keeps it from falling back down the gradient. My personal belief is that the factor that captures the energy is the dimensional complexity of space.
--Graeme E. Smith 19:06, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
- Interesting. I don't know what is happening in thermodynamics (or in physics), and I have not heard of the evolution algorithm. Where did you find out about these things?
Evolutionary biologists really are interested in the thermodynamical aspect of living systems, including at the macroevolutionary time scale. There are two professors at Duke University who just wrote a book (not yet published) about the possibility that biological complexity might show a trend toward increasing in the absence of natural selection, developmental constraints or other forces. This has been interpreted by others as a possible ramification of the second law of thermodynamics. Their webpages are here and here, although they don't seem to mention this work on their sites.
In general, any measurements of evolutionary trends are extremely difficult, particularly if you're trying to tease out the causes of the trends.
By the way, feel free to contribute to the main page about this and not just the talk page. I'd especially appreciate some good references on the subject. --AFriedman 16:45, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
The Evolution Algorythm
The Evolution Algorythm is one of a number of algorythms called Heuristic Algorythms or heuristics for short. I first read about it in some EEE literature, in the 1990's along with a similar algorythm called simulated annealing. Sorry I am not sure which EEE journal it was in. I believe they were using the algorythm at the time for placing circuits on silicon chips, essentially it was used as a MetaHeuristic to search for the best placement of the circuits, and reduced the time for doing the search, while arriving at a near optimum placement. I have heard of it used, in Genetic Programming, and in Metaheuristics associated with searches in other disciplines since then.
There was an article on thermodynamics in one of the science magazines I read when I can afford them. I think it was either Scientific American, or Discover magazine in the last four months. Sorry I can't be more helpful, I really don't do attribution well.
Another topic you might want to look into is complexity theory, this seems to be built on the precepts of A New Kind of Science sorry I can't remember the authors name, but there is a website I tripped over about it. Essentially what the author found was that class 4 cellular automata tend to oscillate between order and chaotic states when driven by an incremental input. This suggests that the big bang should be replaced with an oscillation which is the background behind the "Big Bounce" theory also suggested in one of the magazines I mentioned. What this has to do with Evolution, is that the natural energy/entropy balance probably oscillates due to the natural incremantal nature of the Universe causing changes in the speed of evolution over long periods of time. The difference in speed of evolution would probably be due to the change in the gradient of Entropy on one side, or a change to available energy levels on the other.
An interesting aspect of this characterization of the Energy/Entropy balance, is that we get almost the same effect in a decremental system, since it too would result in an oscillation between order and chaos in a class 4 cellular automata. It is probably because of experiments like these that physicists are rethinking thermodynamics.
My problem is how to present this information, previous to it being accepted as scientific fact. I could be wrong about parts of it, and don't want to come off as being religious about it. Perhaps we should present it as a possible tenative future synthesis?
- Thanks. I've read some of the literature on complexity theory, and to me, one problem is that complexity doesn't seem like a single unified concept. I would also guess that evolution is so localized, stochastic and context dependant, there are many other factors that influence the rate of evolution besides the energy level in the universe. But I don't understand what your thesis is.
Re: presenting your argument, my advice to you is to try to gain access to the library of a major university (e.g. by contacting the librarian, or even enrolling in a course), look at the professional publications in the database and write a thoroughly referenced essay with a clearly defined thesis. Have you seen the page on WV about Freelance academics? --AFriedman 03:20, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Uh, thanks for the reference, I am indeed a freelance scientist, although whether or not you can call me an academic, is well, academic.... Franky I hesitate to take the time to publish on evolution, when my studies right now are in Artificial Consciousness. My work with evolution is all part of a hobby I used to have called Unit Field Theory. I joke whenever I am asked about my religion that I am a Unit Field Fanatic, because I have an irrational belief that the Universe is made up of Unit Fields. Of course, all this quantum gravity stuff hides the real nature of the universe behind words like Quantum and Gravity, but I know, that really what they are describing is a Unit Field. (sic)
Of course you wouldn't find a thesis in this talk, I am only trying to widen your perspective on evolution. There are just a group of smaller topics that are linked in my mind somehow. Maybe someday I will take the time to fit them together and figure out how they work together. The main problem is that if you want me to help you synthesize a more comprehensive evolution article, we need to figure out how to get past the requirement that articles on WikiVersity not be original research or this stuff doesn't fly.
--Graeme E. Smith 06:12, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
In the article about Wikiversity:What is Wikiversity?, there's a section about how we're encouraged to use Wikiversity as a space for original research. In the Department of Life Sciences there are some very active research projects, such as the Bloom Clock Project and the Phage Project. Banning original research seems to be a policy restricted to Wikipedia, that does not apply to Wikiversity. Just to let you know. --AFriedman 14:11, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Color me confused... I thought the whole idea of the research areas was to segregate "original research" from normal research... Or is this in a research area? I mean it seems to have a normal header...The way I read it, you can do original research, just not on the Topic pages
--Graeme E. Smith 18:38, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
- My advice would be to place original research on pages that are clearly described as research projects and put such pages into a category such as Category:Research projects. --JWSchmidt 19:06, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
- This isn't quite research per se, as I see it (although it isn't only mine)...I envision it as becoming a review type resource with what ultimately becomes an original angle and thesis.
Graeme, thanks for your edit. Do you think you might want to write more? --AFriedman 19:14, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
I just created the "Future Evolutionary Synthesis sub-page I will populate it with links and add a few references to flesh it out later, take a look and tell me what you think.
--Graeme E. Smith 19:34, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
- See the discussion for that page. --AFriedman 18:04, 30 January 2009 (UTC)