Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Complex Pathway For Our Evolution

One topic that I have had a novice interest in is complexity theory and how it integrates with other fields such as biology and evolution. Wired Science from had on article on Complexity Theory Takes Evolution to Another Level by Brandon Keim, posted on February 12, 2008. Wired Science also provided an updated post on the subject..

One hundred and ninety-nine years after Charles Darwin was born, and 149 years after he published On the Origin of Species, some scientists say that the theory of evolution is due for a revision.

It's heady stuff, and a lot of the hard science that Woese explained didn't come out well enough in transcription to make sense here. To understand him more completely I highly recommend reading "A New Biology for a New Century," published in 2004 in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. It's a visionary blend of history and microbiology, and shows that Woese is that rarest of all organisms: a brilliant scientist who can really write.

Update: a follow-up post, "Evolution as Biological Thermodynamics"

Another related Wired article provides some basic background on evolution and biology, as well as additional information on Carl R. Woese, whose work has been such an important part of this field. Biologists Take Evolution Beyond Darwin -- Way Beyond Annotated diigo tags: biologists, evolution, complexity,

Darwin described how changes in an organism are passed from generation to generation, dwindling or spreading through populations depending on their contribution to survival. Biologists later combined this with genetics, which had yet to be discovered in Darwin's time. The fusion -- called the modern evolutionary synthesis, or neo-Darwinian evolution -- describes evolution as we now know it: Genetic mutations produce changes that sometimes become part of a species' heritage and, when enough changes accumulate, produce new species.

A recent international symposium at MIT looked at the second law of thermodynamics. One of the lectures also involved biology, the Second Law and Biophysics with Kenneth Dill, Professor of Biophysics; Associate Dean of Research, University of California, San Francisco.

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