The recent sequencing efforts of a variety of organisms has been contributing a whole lot to what we know about the genome, and especially the genome's contribution to an organism's form. One thing Paul Nelson (I think) has brought up before is the fact that the contents of the genome might not be as important as how it is read. Todd Wood made similar claims in his paper on biological similarity. Wood made some waves in Creationary camps by suggesting that perhaps chimps and humans originated with the exact same DNA! Now, I don't think that this was the case, nevertheless it is interesting food for thought - might the same DNA lead to two radically different organisms based on how it is interpretted by the organism? And might two very different sets of DNA lead to near-identical organisms based on how it is interpretted?
We keep on finding clues to this puzzle that indicate that this might be an affirmative on both cases.
In the case of voles, we find vast genomic differences between species that have nearly-identical morphology.
In the case of sea urchins, we see that they have genomes that are much more similar to humans than fruit flies are. According to this article:
Sea urchins are closer to human and vertebrates from an evolutionary perspective than other more widely studied animal models, such as fruit fly or worms. The sea urchin, in fact, has 7,000 genes in common with humans [NOTE - this does not mean they are identical, just the same general gene], including genes associated with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases and muscular dystrophy. "Another surprise is that this spiny creature with no eyes, nose or hears has genes involved in vision, hearing and smell in humans,"... [emphases and NOTEs added]
Also striking is the similarity between humans and kangaroos on the genetic level:
"There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order," center Director Jenny Graves told reporters in Melbourne.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the evolutionary tree, marsupials and placentals were supposed to have diverged long, long ago, in a small mole- or badger-like creature. But here we have kangaroos and humans having the same genes (again, not necessarily identical) in the same order, which is supposedly the evidence for our descent from apes (note that I know of no scientist who says that we descended from kangaroos, and yet what we have here is very much the same type of genetic evidence).
In any case, the point is that similarities and differences within genomes may mean something else entirely from what we think it means today. Are the fundamental components of body morphology even genetic? Anyway, lots of good questions are lurking around in there.
Tas Walker recently posted his flood-centered interpretation of Pyramid Rock, Victoria.
Todd Wood has been blogging the BSG UK conference, titled Genesis and the Origin of the Species. This latest post links to all of his daily entries. The conference is coming soon to the US! I probably won't get to make it (new child on the way), but it sounds like fun!
I was thinking about data encapsulation today. In a computer program, if I want to pass the words "hello world" to a website, I can't just stick it in the URL - spaces aren't allowed in URLs - they serve a different function there. Instead, in URLs, spaces get translated to %20s, so I would pass it as "hello%20world". Different formats have different rules for encapsulation, so if I want to take a single set of characters, and move them from one system to another, it is possible I may have to encapsulate/de-encapsulate multiple times.
So, I was thinking about this with regards to RNA editing. Before I start to make this analogy, let me start by saying the instances of RNA editing I know about don't seem to be working in this way. Nonetheless, I think it is an interesting angle to research to be sure.
What I am wondering is if there are times when the DNA code might be "encapsulated" in a slightly different format, which then gets de-encapsulated by RNA editing to be passed on to the next phase. In computers, this happens when additional control information must be passed on using the same alphabet. In our previous example, in the control system alphabet for web requests, the space has a special use. Therefore, if we need to use a space within the URL itself, we have to encapsulate it so that it doesn't get confused with its special use.
Anyway, just wondering out loud (a) if this happens at all, and (b) whether it occurs through RNA editing or some other mechanism, and (c) what are the different levels of control information and how are they designated.
For those interested, the first newsletter of the BSG: A Creation Biology Study Group has now been posted. It is a members-only publication, so if you want to read it, you'll need to get a membership (it's not expensive). Note that the BSG does not require a statement of faith for membership. I am the newsletter editor, so if you want to contribute (which, by the way, is an excellent way to get started in Creation research) let me know and we can decide what to do. This newsletter consists of member news, book reviews, a literature review, and suggestions for student projects.
While I didn't agree with everything he said, I think everyone will find this talk by Kirk Durston fascinating. The one thing that I don't think he properly took into account was that the "fitness function" on computers is necessarily finite, while the "fitness function" in real life does not necessarily have to be either specified nor finite.
Kirk paints the problem as having a smart enough fitness function - therefore Darwinism is only plausible if the fitness function of life has sufficient information to form life as we know it. However, I think the key he misses is that natural selection is not a fitness function in the same veing as a genetic algorithm fitness function. Natural selection requires that something be usable now, while an appropriate fitness function could select for future optimality (Dawkin's WEASEL is an excellent example, but there are also much more subtle ways of doing this). While Durston makes some great points, the problem, as I see it, will always be the generation of diversity, not its selection.
I recently discovered a blog on Biblical Chronology called ShallowTime. This is great for me because my sources for Biblical Chronology material are very slim. What also caught my attention was the link to a photograph of the historical site of Ai (from Joshua 8). This is very interesting for me, because this is the area of scripture that my son and I are reading (we read Joshua 12 tonight), and we just read about the battle of Ai a few days ago. I'll have to show him the picture of Ai tomorrow.
Here are some recent discussions that I found interesting:
It turns out that Discover Magazine is standing by their claim that Forrest Mims is one of 50 best brains in science despite the harsh criticism they are receiving for it.
In our feature, we recognized Mims specifically for his contributions as an amateur scientist, and we stand by that assessment. His work on the Altair 8800 computer, on RadioShack’s home electronics kit, and on The Citizen Scientist newsletter has been undeniably influential. DISCOVER does not in any way endorse the Discovery Institute’s views on “intelligent design.” At the same time, Mims’s association with that group does not invalidate his role as a leading figure in the American amateur science community, any more than James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA. (emphasis mine)
This is a breath of fresh air in the controversy over intelligent design. May more magazines and journals take the same approach!
I was searching for some of Todd Wood's old papers, and I ran into CORE's 20th anniversary website. Bryan CORE is Bryan College's "Center for Origins Research" - one of the few centers for Creation research in existence. Normally, I wouldn't really care about their anniversary, except that they have a page on this site where they released several foundational papers on Creationism which had previously been unavailable online! If you go there, the graphical circles on the bottom are links to the different papers defining foundational aspects of Creationism. Anyway, they have papers on:
Anyway, I'll probably be commenting on some of these papers soon. Many of these have been buried in expensive International Conference on Creationism volumes which I have not been willing to purchase, or in old issues of other magazines. It's fantastic that they made them available here! Thanks guys!