Bacterial motors carefully studied (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 15:52 (817 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Thank you for another marvellous piece. However, it is unworthy of you to join the fundamentalists of both sides who use exaggerated language to discredit one another. Darwin's theory of evolution is not “collapsing”, and you know it. What has long since “collapsed” - and was already regarded as a weakness in his own time - is his gradualistic explanation of the innovations that drive evolution. You and I and many others also reject the theory of random mutations, but there is no “collapse” in the basic theory of common descent or of natural selection as the process which results in the survival or extinction of organs and organisms.

It is a good Englishman who defends his countryman. My view of Darwin is very different. Evolution was recognized well before Chuck. He provided a theoretical natural mechanism which you and I both think is incorrect. That was his contribution. Natural selection is a logical tautology. Of course there will be competition between variations, and small variations was his prime theme. Today we are well beyond Darwin in trying to reach answers.

dhw: As for epigenetic changes, once more the question is whether the same mechanisms that power those smaller modifications might also be capable of innovation when the environment undergoes major changes that allow for new patterns.

Epigenetics is now being shown to be a more powerful heritable mechanism than previously thought. Perhaps it will turn out to be so powerful as to create species, but I doubt it. Just thinking of the issues involved in a giraffe neck make me pause. Same seven vertebrae (patterns), tremendous blood pressure, and did the acacia trees start short and as they grew taller the giraffes stretched heir necks? Kipling! Not to mention leather-like tongues to handle the thorns that are like daggers.

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