Sort of like life Friday January 9, 2009, 3 comments

Life makes more of itself. And now so can a set of custom-designed chemicals. Chemists have shown that a group of synthetic enzymes replicated, competed and evolved much like a natural ecosystem, but without life or cells.

This interesting introduction to an article called Self-Replicating Chemicals Evolve Into Lifelike Ecosystem caught my attention on Wired this morning.

Scientists have apparently created a system in which components replicate and that, once started, will continue to operate. Sort of like life. And not only will this system continue to operate, the components of this system seem to mutate. Sort of like life. Most of these mutations quickly die off on the system, but some mutations are beneficial, and allow those components with such a mutation to quickly dominate the system. Sort of like life.

Give it a read and let me know what you think.


Comments

Matthew Friday January 9, 2009


Neat article. Another good example of just how simple, yet elegant and clever, the concept of evolution is.

Adrian Friday January 9, 2009


Interestingly, the article could be construed as an argument FOR creationism – at least, the sort of creationism that accepts evolution, but posits that life was created, not a random happening.

At least it’s a conversation piece.

Daniel Black Wednesday January 14, 2009


Good read. I’m not convinced, though, that the process of evolution is tied to the question of a creator, designer, or the lack thereof. The hypotheses in either direction are underdetermined, so we can come up with any number of them and not have any way to tell which has stronger explanatory power.

It’s pretty cool, but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t expect something like this to happen. After all, they’re not synthetic in the sense that they were created from scratch, or—more importantly—in such a way as to escape statistical reproduction defects.

There are other things that challenge the standard classification of “alive,” too, most notably virii and prions. They exhibit several of the properties of life, just not all of ‘em. I think we’ve wrapped ourselves too much in our definition of life, as if it’s intrinsic to the universe, when in fact it’s a classification we created, we defined. Like the whole kerfluffle about removing Pluto’s planetary status: if you look at the old definition of planet, it wasn’t consistent with data we’ve collected and hypotheses and classifications we’ve made therefrom, since. Classification is a tool, not a divining of some fundamental essence of a thing. “Life,” then, might stand a redefinition, but I guess it still serves as a useful classification in the vast majority of cases.

I’ll claim that this link comes at an opportune time, though that’s sort of self-fulfilling. Lots of notes on life to run through these results, which is a phenomenally bland thing to say.

Commenting has ended for this post, but I'd still love to hear from you.

The website of Adrian Lebar

A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

Adrian is not currently available for freelance and contract work. Learn more.

It is better to be wrong than to be vague.”
- Freeman Dyson

Twitter

  • t.co/yhv9nt8v69 Friday July 6, 2018
  • So, on to new things! My last day at Kijiji was last Friday, but my first day at RBC Ventures is today. Starting so… t.co/zUoKjI6hVs Monday June 11, 2018
  • Well, today's my last day at @Kijiji. I'm proud of everything I was able to achieve over the last three years, and… t.co/RhytXz5Vgi Friday June 1, 2018
  • Hey #TTC. Good job telling us what’s going on with the streetcar problems at Queen and Broadview. The driver is lit… t.co/dU4ZVHwRbm Friday March 2, 2018
  • “It’s a good thing you look young!” by @felsull t.co/BOy17rmcP5 Thursday February 1, 2018
  • Half of the human population that has walked on the moon is dead. There are only 6 left. Monday January 8, 2018
  • We now live in a world where human beings have to prove too machines that we are in fact human. #lifeimitatesart #irony Friday January 5, 2018
  • Happy new year everyone! May the year bring you challenges, successes and joy. Monday January 1, 2018