Is E.T. calling us? Stay tuned!

New Scientist magazine reports on a paper by Hippke, Domainko and Learned, suggesting that fast radio bursts, which were first discovered in 2001, may be artificial signals produced by alien – or human – technology. Ten fast bursts of radio waves have been detected within the past 15 years, and the delay between the arrival of the first and last waves is always very close to a multiple of 187.5. The authors claim there is a 5 in 10,000 probability that the line-up is coincidence, and they argue that no known natural process can explain this curious fact. They conclude that if the signals are not due to “a [natural] galactic source producing quantized chirped signals” (which would be “most surprising”) then “an artificial source (human or non-human) must be considered, particularly since most bursts have been observed in only one location (Parkes radio telescope).” The authors consider the possibility that fast radio bursts are “Earthly noise” – a strong possibility, since they “show arrival times with a strong correlation to Earth’s integer second,” which “hints at some man-made device, such as mobile phone base stations.” The article in New Scientist points out that if the signals are produced by aliens, “the aliens would have to be from what SETI scientists call a Kardashev Type II civilisation” – one which “has a star’s worth of output at its disposal,” and is capable of capturing all its sun’s radiation, throwing material into a black hole and sucking up the radiation, or alternatively, traveling to many planets and stripping them of resources.

What do readers think about these curious radio signals? Are they human, alien or natural? Whatever your conclusion may be, this is a clear-cut case of Intelligent Design reasoning at work in the scientific realm.

#extra-terrestrial, #science-fictions, #science-news

DNA PRINTING IS HERE; WHAT NEW LIFEFORM WOULD YOU CREATE?

Cambrian Genomics has figured out how to print DNA in a process that greatly reduces the cost.  They make the first hardware/systems for laser printing DNA.  As company CEO, Austen Heinz puts it “We print life. Life is very simple, it’s just code. Four letters — we print that.”  He invented a 3D laser printer that prints custom DNA sequences.  The idea behind the company is that everything that’s alive is simply code.  If you remember back to your biology class, the primary nucleobases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T), and guanine (G) — form base pairs in a specific order to create strands of DNA.

Cambrian Genomics uses proprietary process to assemble ACTG to create custom DNA for customers. The process is truly revolutionary.  You can either alter current DNA to create characteristics like a plant that glows in the dark, or create brand new DNA.  The process lets you play God in creating things that don’t currently exist in nature.

It’s currently much easier to alter existing DNA than to create new DNA into a new lifeform, but the possibility exists.  As you can imagine, there are significant government clearances that are needed for these processes, and Cambrian Genomics leaves that part to the customers to deal with.

However, think about the possibilities.  Heinz proposes “Plants can be made to take out much more carbon out of the atmosphere. We can make humans that are born without disease that can live much longer. We can make humans that can interface directly with computers by growing interfaces into the brain.”

3D DNA printing is not without its obvious controversy though.   There is a larger movement dedicated to banning all GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).   There is also significant concern about what effects there could be of releasing GMOs into the environment–also known as the Jurassic Park Effect.  There are current government safeguards in effect to help prevent this now.  All GMO products must first go through a rigorous approval process before a project can be started.  Then, there is government testing that occurs after the product is created to assure that there no ill effects of creating such a product.

Heinz explains how the current regulatory environment in America is fairly open for plant life, but locked down for animal and human life.  However, in Europe they are locked down on plant life, but much more open on human life.  In the UK has the first 3 parent child which is in a sense a GMO.  Heinz presented the possible paradox that GMO people could be anti-GMO activists in the future, but ironically be a GMO themselves.

#science-controversy, #science-fictions, #science-news

The Magnificent Caos of 2 Million Pounds of Satellites

Planetary Science Journal Icarus, the “Wow!” Signal of Intelligent Design

Here’s a new paper that can be added to the growing stack of intelligent-design articles in peer-reviewed journals. Even though the authors do not use the phrase “intelligent design,” their reasoning centers on the detection of an intelligent signal embedded in the genetic code — a mathematical and semantic message that cannot be accounted for by a natural cause, “be it Darwinian, Lamarckian,” chemical affinities or energetics, or any other.

Dr. Vladimir I. shCherbak, a mathematician at the al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov, an astrobiologist at Kazakhstan’s’s Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, gave their paper a catchy title: “The ‘Wow! signal’ of the terrestrial genetic code.” Their paper has been accepted for publication in the prestigious planetary science journal Icarus, where it’s already available online.

Their title comes from a curious SETI signal back in 1977 that looked so artificial at first, a researcher wrote “Wow!” next to it. With no follow-up examples, that signal has remained interesting but inconclusive. shCherbak and Makukov looked into “biological SETI” — the “biological channel” of communication (e.g., DNA) and concluded “Wow!” — the genetic code has features that defy natural explanation. The abstract states:

It has been repeatedly proposed to expand the scope for SETI, and one of the suggested alternatives to radio is the biological media. Genomic DNA is already used on Earth to store non-biological information. Though smaller in capacity, but stronger in noise immunity is the genetic code. The code is a flexible mapping between codons and amino acids, and this flexibility allows modifying the code artificially. But once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature, if that conforms to biological and thermodynamic requirements. As the actual scenario for the origin of terrestrial life is far from being settled, the proposal that it might have been seeded intentionally cannot be ruled out. A statistically strong intelligent-like “signal” in the genetic code is then a testable consequence of such scenario. (Emphasis added.)

Since intelligent design theory doesn’t consider the question of the identity of the designer, design by space aliens is one possible intelligent cause; however, the phrase used here, “seeded intentionally,” would appear to refer to a broader class of intelligence(s).

Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. Simple arrangements of the code reveal anensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10-13). The patterns display readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries. Besides, extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to natural origin. Plausible ways of embedding the signal into the code and possible interpretation of its content are discussed. Overall, while the code is nearly optimized biologically, its limited capacity is used extremely efficiently to pass non-biological information.

From there, the authors explore a number of fascinating patterns they find in the genetic code itself (not necessarily in animal genomes) — i.e., the relationship between the base pairs of DNA and the 20 amino acids. They are driven to the conclusion of design not only by what they observe, but also “by the fact that how the code came to be apparently non-random and nearly optimized remains disputable and highly speculative.” This reasoning is similar to Stephen Meyer’s in Signature in the Cell in which all the possible natural causes for a phenomenon were considered before inferring design.

The signal of intelligent origin, they reasoned, was strong because both arithmetic and ideographic signals are apparent, both using the same symbolic language. They predicted that a signal, if it exists, should be robust from modification. They did their best to avoid arbitrariness, considering what natural causes could be available to explain their findings. They identified two dimensionless integers — redundancy of codons and number of nucleons in the amino acid set — as “ostensive numerals” forming the basis of the signal, showing in detail how the patterns in those numerals satisfy the conditions for intelligent signals.

Considerations of brevity prohibit giving a complete analysis of their arguments, but let an example suffice. Of the 20 amino acids, only proline holds its side chain with two bonds, and has one less hydrogen in its block. The effect of this is to “standardize” the code to a 73 + 1 block nucleon number. Yet the distinction between block and chain is “purely formal,” they argue, since there is no stage in amino acid synthesis where the block and side chain are detached. Here’s their comment:

Therefore, there is no any [sic] natural reason why nucleon transfer in proline; it can be stimulated only in the mind of a recipient to achieve the array of amino acids with uniform structure. Such nucleon transfer thus appears artificial. However, exactly, this seems to be its destination: it protects the patterns from any natural explanation. Minimizing the chances for appealing to natural origin is a distinct concern of messaging of such kind, and this problem seems to be solved perfectly for the signal in the genetic code. Applied systematically without exceptions, the artificial transfer in proline enables holistic and precise order in the code. Thus, it acts as an “activation key”. While nature deals with the actual proline which does not produce the signal in the code, an intelligent recipient easily finds the key and reads messages in arithmetical language….

In addition, they find a decimal system including zero (via stop codons), and many other fascinating signs of intelligent origin. They examine possible criticisms, such as the claim that the patterns could be due to unknown natural causes:

But this criterion is equivalent to asking if it is possible at all to embed informational patterns into the code so that they could beunequivocally interpreted as an intelligent signature. The answer seems to be yes, and one way to do so is to make patterns virtual, not actual. Exactly that is observed in the genetic code. Strict balances and decimal syntax appear only with the application of the“activation key”.

In effect, the proline nucleon transfer is like a decoder ring that makes the signal apparent and all the blocks balance out. Some other signs of artificiality are the fact that nucleon sums are multiples of 037; the stop codons act as zero in a decimal system, and all the three-digit decimals (111, 222, 333, 444, 555, 666, 777, 888, and 999) appear at least once in the code, “which also looks like an intentional feature.

Could these patterns be due to selection or any other natural process? Could they be mere “epiphenomena” of chemical pressures for mass equalities, or something else?

But it is hardly imaginable how a natural process can drive mass distribution in abstract representations of the code where codons are decomposed into bases or contracted by redundancy…. no natural process can drive mass distribution to produce the balance … amino acids and syntactic signs that make up this balance are entirely abstract since they are produced by translation of a string read across codons.

Even more convincing, no natural cause can produce semantics — particularly the kind involving “interpretive or linguistic semantics peculiar to intelligence,” they write. “Exactly the latter kind of semantics is revealed in the signal of the genetic code.” Here’s a summary of the patterns they conclude show design:

In total, not only the signal itself reveals intelligent-like features — strict nucleon equalities, their distinctive decimal notation, logical transformations accompanying the equalities, the symbol of zero and semantic symmetries, but the very method of its extractioninvolves abstract operations — consideration of idealized (free and unmodified) molecules, distinction between their blocks and chains, the activation key, contraction and decomposition of codons. We find that taken together all these aspects point at artificial nature of the patterns.

Lest anyone perceive a creationist message, they write: “Whatever the actual reason behind the decimal system in the code, it appears that it was invented outside the solar system already several billions years [sic] ago.” In other words, their favored position is panspermia. (Keep in mind, though, that there are multiple versions of panspermia.)

If their thesis of “biological SETI” sounds a little like ideas floated by Paul Davies, the authors thank Davies in their Acknowledgements, along with Manfred Eigen in Germany.

How will evolutionists respond to this paper? It’s hard to see how they could dismiss it. Maybe they will try to mock it as old Arabian numerology, or religiously inspired (since Kazakhstan, which funded the study, is 70% Muslim). Those would be unfair criticisms. The authors have Russian names, certified doctorates, and wrote in collaboration with leading lights in the West. Or perhaps critics could argue that the authors hail from a foreign country whose name has too many adjacent consonants in it to take them seriously.

No, it appears the only way out for Darwinists would be the “Dawkins Dodge.” You may remember that one from the documentary Expelled, where Dawkins admits the possibility of panspermia for Earth, so long as the designers themselves evolved by a Darwinian process.

What’s most notable about this paper is the similarity in design reasoning between the authors and the more familiar advocates of intelligent design theory. No appeals to religion or religious texts; no identifying the designer; just logical reasoning from effect to sufficient cause. The authors even applied the “design filter” by considering chance and natural law, including natural selection, before inferring design.

If Darwinists want to go on equating intelligent design with creationism, they will now have to take on the very secular journal Icarus.

#academic-freedom, #intelligent-design, #science-news

How does the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis differ from design?

Reader asks:

Further to: New call for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (The main problem the extended evolutionary synthesis creates for Darwinism is that evolution happens in many different ways, not just their way):

From the paper:

By contrast, the EES regards the genome as a sub-system of the cell designed by evolution to sense and respond to the signals that impinge on it. Organisms are not built from genetic ‘instructions’ alone, but rather self-assemble using a broad variety of
inter-dependent resources.

A reader writes to ask,

1. “designed by evolution”?

That means that design is so obvious that you can not get rid of it. But you can not represent “evolution” as an agent because “evolution” is not an agent, a force, a cause… Evolution is just “nothing”, the way we name the passing of time, but not the cause of the change.

2. “Designed by evolution to sense and respond to the signals that impinge on it” That is purely teleological, thank you.

3. “Self -assembly??”Ontogeny is not a process of assembly of parts. Aristotle called this process “epigenesis” 2.500 years ago. Kant explained that parts and the whole form being cause and effect to each other.

4. “…using a broad variety of inter-dependent resources”This interdependence sounds a little bit like “irreducible complexity””resources” has big teleological implications. The cell (or the organism that is being formed) “uses the resources” in order to…(Form is the final cause of the process)

Thanks to Jablonka, Müler et al. for reminding us how evident teleology and design are in biology.

Doubtless, the extended evolutionary synthesizers will be asked by others to explain.

Should be an interesting discussion
.

#academic-freedom, #intelligent-design, #science

Simulation Universe

Please follow the next lines and images about an interesting questions.

That is, why inferring design on functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, e.g.:

abu_6500c3magand equally:

cell_metabolism

. . . makes good sense.

Now, overnight, UD’s Newsdesk posted on a Space dot com article, Is Our Universe a Fake?

The article features “Philosopher Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University.”

I think Bostrom’s argument raises a point worth pondering, one oddly parallel to the Boltzmann brain popping up by fluctuation from an underlying sea of quantum chaos argument, as he discusses “richly detailed software simulation[s] of people, including their historical predecessors, by a very technologically advanced civilization”:

>>Bostrom is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show that one of three possible scenarios must be true (assuming there are other intelligent civilizations):

  1. All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature;
  2. All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations;
  3. Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation.

His point is that all cosmic civilizations either disappear (e.g., destroy themselves) before becoming technologically capable, or all decide not to generate whole-world simulations (e.g., decide such creations are not ethical, or get bored with them). The operative word is “all” — because if even one civilization anywhere in the cosmos could generate such simulations, then simulated worlds would multiply rapidly and almost certainly humanity would be in one.

As technology visionary Ray Kurzweil put it, “maybe our whole universe is a science experiment of some junior high school student in another universe.”>>

In short, if once the conditions are set up for a large distribution of possibilities to appear, you have a significant challenge to explain why you are not in the bulk of the possibilities in a dynamic-stochastic system.

Let me put up an outline, general model:

gen_sys_proc_modelSuch a system puts out an output across time that will vary based on mechanical and stochastic factors, exploring a space of possibilities. And in particular, any evolutionary materialist model of reality will be a grand dynamic-stochastic system, including a multiverse.

Now, too, as Wiki summarises, there is the Boltzmann Brain paradox:

>>A Boltzmann brain is a hypothesized self aware entity which arises due to random fluctuations out of a state of chaos. The idea is named for the physicist Ludwig Boltzmann (1844–1906), who advanced an idea that the Universe is observed to be in a highly improbable non-equilibrium state because only when such states randomly occur can brains exist to be aware of the Universe. The term for this idea was then coined in 2004 by Andreas Albrecht and Lorenzo Sorbo.[1]

The Boltzmann brains concept is often stated as a physical paradox. (It has also been called the “Boltzmann babies paradox”.[2]) The paradox states that if one considers the probability of our current situation as self-aware entities embedded in an organized environment, versus the probability of stand-alone self-aware entities existing in a featureless thermodynamic “soup”, then the latter should be vastly more probable than the former.>>

In short, systems with strong stochastic tendencies tend to have distributions in their outcomes, which are dominated by the generic and typically uninteresting bulk of a population. Indeed this is the root of statistical mechanics, the basis for a dynamical understanding of thermodynamics i/l/o the behaviour of large collections of small particles.

For instance, one of my favourites (explored in Mandl) is an idealised two-state element paramagnetic array, with atoms having N-pole up/down, a physical atomic scale close analogue of the classic array of coins exercise. We can start with 500 or 1,000 coins in a string, which will of course pursue a binomial distribution [3.27 * 10^150 or 1.07*10^301 possibilities respectively, utterly dominated by coins in near 50-50 outcomes, in no particular orderly or organised pattern], then look at an array where each atom of our 10^57 atom sol system has a tray of 500 coins flipped say every 10^-13 – 10^-15 s:

sol_coin_fliprThe outcome of such an exercise is highly predictably that no cases of FSCO/I (meaningful complex strings) will emerge, as the number of possible observed outcomes is so small relative to the set of possibilities that it rounds down to all but no search, as the graphic points out.

This is of course an illustration of the core argument to design as credible cause on observing FSCO/I, that once functionally specific complex organisation and associated information are present in a situation, it demands an observed to be adequate explanation that does not require us to believe in statistical needle- in- vast- haystack- search- challenge miracles:

islands_of_func_challAlso:

is_ o_func2_activ_info

The Captain Obvious fact of serious thinkers making similar needle in haystack arguments, should lead reasonable people to take pause before simply brushing aside the inference to design on FSCO/I. Including in the world of life and in the complex fine tuned physics of our cosmos that sets up a world in which C-chemistry, aqueous medium terrestrial planet life is feasible.

But we’re not finished yet.

What’s wrong with Bostrom’s argument, and wheere else does it point.

PPolish and Mapou raise a point or two:

>>1

  • Simulated Universes scream Intelligent Design. Heck, Simulated Universes prove Intelligent Design.

    I can see why some Scientists are leaning in this direction. Oops/Poof does not cut it any more. Unscientific, irrational, kind of dumb.

  • ppolish,

    It’s a way for them to admit intelligent design without seeming to do so (for fear of being crucified by their peers). Besides, those who allegedly designed, built and are running the simulation would be, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from the Gods.

    Edit: IOW, they’re running away from religion only to fall into it even deeper.>>

In short, a detailed simulation world will be a designed world.

Likewise High School student projects do not credibly run for 13.7 BY. Not even PhD’s, never mind Kurzweil’s remark.

So, what is wrong with the argument?

First, an implicit assumption.

It is assuming that unless races keep killing off themselves too soon, blind chance and mechanical necessity can give rise to life then advanced, civilised high tech life that builds computers capable of whole universe detailed simulations.

But ironically, the argument points to the likeliest, only observed cause of FSCO/I, design, and fails to address the significance of FSCO/I as a sign of design, starting with design of computers, e.g.:

mpu_modelWhere, cell based life forms show FSCO/I-rich digital information processors in action “everywhere,” e.g. the ribosome and protein synthesis:

Protein Synthesis (HT: Wiki Media)

So, real or simulation, we are credibly looking at design, and have no good empirical observational grounds to infer that FSCO/I is credibly caused by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

So, the set of alternative possible explanations has implicitly questionable candidates and implicitly locks out credible but ideologically unacceptable ones, i.e. intelligent design of life and of the cosmos. That is, just maybe the evidence is trying to tell us that if we have good reason to accept that we live in a real physical world as opposed to a “mere” speculation, then that puts intelligent design of life and cosmos at the table as of right not sufferance.

And, there is such reason.

Not only is it that the required simulation is vastly too fine grained and fast-moving to be credibly  centrally processed but the logic of complex processing would point to a vast network of coupled processors. Which is tantamount to saying we have been simulating on atoms etc. In short, it makes good sense to conclude that our processing elements are real world dynamic-stochastic entities: atoms, molecules etc in real space.

This is backed up by a principle that sets aside Plato’s Cave worlds and the like: any scheme that implies grand delusion of our senses and faculties of reasoning i/l/o experience of the world undermines its own credibility in an infinite regress of further what if delusions.

Reduction to absurdity in short.

So, we are back to ground zero, we have reason to see that we live in a real world in which cell based life is full of FSCO/I and the fine tuning of the cosmos also points strongly to FSCO/I.

Thence, to the empirically and logically best warranted explanation of FSCO/I.

Design.

Thank you Dr Bostrom for affirming the power of the needle in haystack challenge argument.

Where that argument leads, is to inferring design as best current and prospective causal explanation of FSCO/I, in life and in observed cosmos alike.

Any suggestions and comments?

#cosmology, #math, #metaphysics, #philosophy, #physics, #science, #science-news, #universe

Spectacular Convergence: A Camera Eye in a Microbe

94600_web (1)

They thought it was a joke. A century ago, biologists could not believe that a one-celled creature had an eye. But since the warnowiid dinoflagellate was difficult to find and grow in the lab, detailed research was rare, until now. A team from the University of British Columbia gathered specimens off the coast of BC and Japan for a closer look. They found that the structure, called an ocelloid, has structures that mimic the complex eye of higher animals. PhysOrgsays:

In fact, the ‘ocelloid’ within the planktonic predator looks so much like a complex eye that it was originally mistaken for the eye of an animal that the plankton had eaten.

“It’s an amazingly complex structure for a single-celled organism to have evolved,” said lead author Greg Gavelis, a zoology PhD student at UBC. “It contains a collection of sub-cellular organelles thatlook very much like the lens, cornea, iris and retina of multicellular eyes found in humans and other larger animals.” [Emphasis added.]

New Scientist shares the astonishment:

It is perhaps the most extraordinary eye in the living world — soextraordinary that no one believed the biologist who first described it more than a century ago.

Now it appears that the tiny owner of this eye uses it to catch invisible prey by detecting polarised light. This suggestion is also likely to be greeted with disbelief, for the eye belongs to a single-celled organism called Erythropsidinium. It has no nerves, let alone a brain. So how could it “see” its prey?

The “retina” of this eye, a curved array of chromosomes, appears arranged to filter polarized light. The news item from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research quotes Brian Leander, co-supervisor of the project:

“The internal organization of the retinal body is reminiscent of the polarizing filters on the lenses of cameras and sunglasses,” Leander says. “Hundreds of closely packed membranes lined up in parallel.”

And that’s not all this wonder of the sea has in its toolkit. It also has a piston and a harpoon:

Scientists still don’t know exactly how warnowiids use the eye-like structure, but clues about the way they live have fuelled compelling speculation. warnowiids hunt other dinoflagellates, many of which are transparent. They have large nematocysts, which Leander describes as “little harpoons,” for catching prey. And some have apiston — a tentacle that can extend and retract very quickly — with an unknown function that might be used for escape or feeding.

Did This Eye Evolve?

Lest anyone think the dinoflagellate’s eye presents an easy evolutionary stepping stone to more complex eyes, the data reveal several problems. The paper inNature claims that the ocelloids are built from “different endosymbiotically acquired components” such as mitochondria and plastids. “As such, the ocelloid is a chimaeric structure, incorporating organelles with different endosymbiotic histories.” We can treat endosymbiosis as a separate issue. For now, we can ask if this complex structure is explainable by unguided natural selection.

The authors did not think this is a clear evolutionary story. “The ocelloid isamong the most complex subcellular structures known, but its function andevolutionary relationship to other organelles remain unclear,” they say. Never in the paper do they explain how organelles with different histories came together into a functioning eye. Most of the paper is descriptive of the parts and how they function individually, or where they might have been derived by endosymbiosis. To explain the eye’s origin as a functioning whole, they make up a phrase, “evolutionary plasticity” —

Nevertheless, the genomic and detailed ultrastructural data presented here have resolved the basic components of the ocelloid and their origins, and demonstrate how evolutionary plasticity of mitochondria and plastids can generate an extreme level of subcellular complexity.

Other than that, they have very little to say about evolution, and nothing about natural selection.

In the same issue of Nature, Richards and Gomes review the paper. They list other microbes including algae and fungi that have light-sensitive spots. Some have the rhodopsin proteins used in the rods and cones of multicellular animals. But instead of tracing eye evolution by common ancestry, they attribute all these innovations to convergence:

These examples demonstrate the wealth of subcellular structures and associated light-receptor proteins across diverse microbial groups. Indeed, all of these examples represent distinct evolutionary branches in separate major groups of eukaryotes. Even the plastid-associated eyespots are unlikely to be the product of direct vertical evolution, because the Chlamydomonas plastid is derived from a primary endosymbiosis and assimilation of a cyanobacterium, whereas the Guillardia plastid is derived from a secondary endosymbiosis in which the plastid was acquired ‘second-hand’ by intracellular incorporation of a red alga. Using gene sequences recovered from the warnowiid retinal body, Gavelis et al. investigated the ancestry of this organelle by building phylogenetic trees for the plastid-derived genes. Their analysis demonstrated that this modified plastid is also of secondary endosymbiotic originfrom a red alga.

Although derived independently, there are common themes in theevolution of these eye-like structures. Many of them involve thereconfiguration of cellular membrane systems to produce anopaque body proximal to a sensory surface, a surface that in four of the five examples probably involves type 1 rhodopsins. Given the evolutionary derivation of these systems, this represents a complex case of convergent evolution, in which photo-responsive subcellular systems are built up separately from similar components to achieve similar functions. The ocelloid example isstriking because it demonstrates a peak in subcellular complexity achieved through repurposing multiple components. Collectively, these findings show that evolution has stumbled on similar solutions to perceiving light time and time again.

But is convergence just a word masquerading as an explanation? We read:

The work sheds shed new light on how very different organisms can evolve similar traits in response to their environments, a process known as convergent evolution. Eye-like structures haveevolved independently many times in different kinds of animals and algae with varying abilities to detect the intensity of light, its direction, or objects.

“When we see such similar structural complexity at fundamentally different levels of organization in lineages that are very distantly related to each other, in this case warnowiids and animals, then you get a much deeper understanding of convergence,” Leander says.

But “convergent evolution” is not a process. It is a post-hoc observation based on evolutionary assumptions. An environment has no power to force an organism to respond to it with a complex function. Light exists, whether or not an organism sees it. Magnetism exists, too; does it contain the power to nudge fish, turtles, and butterflies to employ it for navigation?

#academic-freedom, #debate, #evolution, #eye, #intelligen-design, #science, #science-news