The media and the message.

Posted: February 18, 2007 in Intelligent Design


The internet equates to nothing, if there is no data flowing. Pulses of light or electricity often travelling huge distances often at the speed of light before queuing up, at switch buffers, to then be sent on to its destination.

At each switch or router there are checks made using algorithms, which confirm that incoming data is not corrupted,what is received is the same as what was sent,these checks are known as cyclic redundancy checks (CRC’s).

Data corruption commonly is caused by the medium that carries it,whether that medium is glass fibre, copper wire or DNA the medium through which data transfer is achieved will interfere in the fidelity of the message. The message and the medium are always separate but the later always effects the former.

Networking has a take home message for data transfer; whether its binary data or nucleotide base sequences, data going great distances or transferred through time from generation to generation or horizontally from organism to organism. for instance conjugation.

Information is distorted in the act of transfer such that it needs constant fidelity checks. We know there are many DNA checking processes in relatively ‘simple’ organisms such as prokaryotes. attesting to the fact that information needs protecting ,check out William Bradford’s blog.

The necessity of these checks and correction processes demonstrate how vulnerable DNA is to such things as Ultraviolet light, free radicals etc, which are mutagens.

I know very little about mutation rates and evolution, but there must be an optimal rate of mutation above which the message is lost below which no adaptations can be made?

It is possible that genetic adaptations within a species are part of the homoeostatic response to environmental changes,genetic adaptations include the ability to instigate mutations at certain gene sites ;(Hat tip:Mike Gene).

Where there’s a question for me, is in regard to the origin of life problem (assuming an exclusive mechanistic scenario) and the proto-organisms ability to respond appropriately to the mutation rate it is subject to.

The investment in terms of energy, material and information that is needed in order to protect DNA at the initial stages of evolution must also be able to maintain an optimal mutation rate,if there is such as thing.

An optimal mutation rate would place a cap on the rate of mutations an organism suffers, otherwise the stepwise increase in complexity and function that evolution describes,that build up of information, would be lost at the first hint of oxidation or ultraviolet light. Must there be an initial mechanism of protection?

An organisms Mutation rate must keep pace with environmental challenges apparently, but genetic information must not mutate at a rate which does not allow for changes through mutations to be applied,selection needs to be able to select. (Remember that not all genes are switched on, only in certain circumstances are genes switched on and so can be open to selection pressure,does that apply to the first organisms ?). Optimal mutation rate must be defined using generational time ,so the optimal generation time would allow for mutation to propagate and have effect.

I’m making some assumptions ,for instance not all mutations have the same effect ,some are neutral some have a harmful negative effect while some have a positive effect.

I know nothing of the ratio of lethal to non lethal mutations,what would this ratio of been back at life’s beginning?

What about Selection pressure-how efficient is selection pressure at selecting against harmful mutations and selecting for positive traits?

How common are positive beneficial mutations ?

J.C.Sanford in his book ‘Genetic Entropy & The mystery of the Genome‘ says estimates of beneficial mutations to be so low as to actually thwart measurement (Bataitton,2000,Elena et al,1998).

Some positive mutations actually represent a loss of information here’s J.C.Sanford:

‘Vast numbers of mutants were produced and screened,collectively representing many billions of mutation events. A huge number of small,sterile, sick, deformed aberrant plants were produced. However, from all this effort, almost no meaningful crop improvement resulted.

The effort was for the most part an enormous failure, and was almost entirely abandoned. Why did this huge mutation/selection experiment fail- even a host of Ph.D. Scientists trying to help it along? It was because even with all those billions of mutations, there were no significant new beneficial mutations arising. The notable exceptions prove the point. For example, low phytate corn is the most notable example of successful mutation breeding. Such low phytate corn has certain advantages in terms of animal feed. The low phytate corn was created by mutatagenizing corn, and then selecting for strains wherein the genetic machinery which directs phytic acid production has been damaged. Although the resulting mutant may be desired for a specific agricultural purpose,it was accomplished through net loss of information and the loss of a biological function.’



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