But surely there was an intelligence behind it!
Suits me fine. If I were trying to create life, evolution's how I'd do it.
Damn it - the professor is from State!
Though in reality I'm proud that the discovery was led by a thinker from the fine Mitten State.
Yeah, from out here in Seattle it's the "Michigan" part more than the "State" part I really care about. :D
Yeah! Go Science! Totally!
Seriously, though, it's a good for people who think. People who think logically, at least. And read. Books that don't have the word "beget" followed by lots and lots of aramaic names.
Good to hear. It's nice ammo to have when you're up against boneheads who give you the classic line "evolution is just a theory."
Of course, that kind of person isn't exactly the type to let a little thing like a fact get in the way of their belief system.
Alas, the scientific method does not contain a mechanism for proving much of anything. It is good to know, however, that there is a repeatable experiment that produces results that are consistent with the predictions of natural selection.
I will not go into my rant about the invisible man.
Thank you for posting this.
Edited at 2008-06-12 01:03 am (UTC)
2008-06-12 02:21 am (UTC)
...Only, if you want to repeat the experiment, you'd better have 20 years up your sleeve, apparently.
First, he grew them for about 15 years, and noticed a change, then he went to his library of samples, and repeated the growth cycles of the entire set for an increasing set of durations, and waited another 5 years (I'm guessing here, but that's how I read it) to pinpoint when exactly the 'inciting incident' occurred. And now he's got a complete record of what happened, when and what it led to. Nice one!
This guy is almost redefining "Basic Rigour!". What a dedicated bloke!
2008-06-12 06:12 am (UTC)
A nitpick: Evolution has been observed in the lab many, many times. What's new in this experiment is the evolution of a complex, multistage trait. In order to get the change observed, a number of separate mutations needed to take place. This was demonstrated by "replaying" previous generations and observing the frequency with which the new trait re-evolved.
After the critical point, many of the test populations re-evolved the new trait relatively quickly, proving that there was a prior neutral change that provided the basis for the evolution of the trait in question.
This is the news, not the fact that evolution happens.
2008-06-12 06:16 am (UTC)
Oops, that should have been a comment to the post, not a reply to the parent comment.
You're absolutely right; that does need clarifying. Thanks for the nitpick.
This is absolutely fantastic news.
I'd been introduced to the ideas of Michael Behe through his book, The Edge of Evolution, and his argument was that the odds against multiple random mutations occuring that would produce a positive evolutionary step on the level proposed by Darwin was far greater than what would be necessary to create the diversity of organisms we see today. This experiment seems to prove that, at the very least, Behe's math was wrong.
Behe's math was even more wrong, actually. His big numbers were fairly accurate (iirc), but he failed to take into account the even bigger numbers of organisms involved and completely ignored the selection step which reinforces positive changes and weeds out negative ones. All in all, ID is truly abysmal pseudoscience.
I can never be swayed from the fact that ID is BS, but Behe's arguments were rational and troubling. I'd been left wondering just what the heck he was leaving out (either intentionally or not). Thanks for cluing me in. :-)