Home » Intelligent Design » Homochirality and Darwin

Homochirality and Darwin

Loiuis PasteurOne of the smaller mysteries of life is that it is built out of asymmetric building blocks. The amino acids that are chained together to make proteins are asymmetric, as are the sugars that are chained together to make starch, cellulose, and other useful polysaccharides. The standard way to show this, is by making a solution of the specific molecule, shining polarized light through it, and demonstrating that the “plane of polarization” has rotated. Those that rotate the light counter-clockwise are “left-handed” and those that rotate it clockwise are “right-handed”. Using the letters “l” for left, and “d” for right, we now can label the mirror-image molecules with their appropriate chirality. (The amino acids are labelled L or D not by their rotation of light, but by their chemical synthesis from l- or d-glyceraldehyde. All L-amino acids do not rotate light the same direction, but they can all be derived from l-glyceraldehyde.)

A science fair project that deeply impressed me as a junior high student, was to take two plane polarizers (such as those found in sunglasses) and put different thicknesses of ordinary cellophane tape in between, by taping it to a clear sheet of acrylic (overhead transparency for those old enough to remember). Each thickness of tape (D-sugar!) would rotate the light more, and when viewed through “crossed” polarizers, different colors would appear as if by magic. The explanation was even more magical, and I spent an hour or more playing with tape and polarizers.

Evidently, this also impressed chemists in the early 1800′s, since inorganic crystals did not show these colors. They took this as evidence of one more way that living things were different from non-living things–they turned colors under polarized light, as well as multiplied, fermented, decomposed, and otherwise did miracles with common substances. Which is why they separated “inorganic” from “organic” chemistry. Darwin, of course, refused to acknowledge any separation between organic and inorganic chemistry, and this intransigence has plagued his theory ever since.

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21 Responses to Homochirality and Darwin

  1. Robert Sheldon, though I am still not completely comfortable with some of the overarching conclusions you have drawn from the meteorites, you have put many of my concerns, that you were overreaching the evidence, to rest. The article is a very well written post that I enjoyed reading very much. I especially liked your summation at the end:

    “Whether one can or cannot start with a dimer and end up with tweezer piles is irrelevant, because there is no abiotic path from a racemic solution to a stereo-active solution of amino acid that doesn’t involve a biotic chiral agent, be it chiral beads or Louis Pasteur himself. Like many critiques of ID, the problem with these “Darwinist” solutions is that they always smuggle in some information, in this case, chiral agents.

    If those 12 carbonaceous chondrites represent 12 separate OOL events, then the probability of finding at least one with D-amino acid overabundance should have been 99.97%. Does not finding a single D-amino mean OOL is disproven? Not if one is willing to overlook 1 in 10^1107 odds in the first place. After all, what are a mere three more zeroes? We’ve merely moved it up to 1 in 10^1110 odds.”

  2. Dr. Sheldon,
    hot off the press:

    Detection of ice and organics on an asteroidal surface. Nature, 2010; 464 (7293): 1322 DOI: 10.1038/nature09028

    Astronomers Find Water On 24 Themis Asteroid’s Surface
    http://www.scientificblogging......ds_surface

  3. Once one accepts that the extreme improbability of the configurations of life are down to ID, then that admits all sorts of ways in which that intelligence may create the patterns of life. An intelligent agent has many ways it can choose to work and this is evidenced by ID supporters ranging from YECs to those who accept millions of years of “front loaded” common descent.

    But does ID’s fold include theistic evolutionists? What if Robert Sheldon’s remarks about the unlikelihood of an asymmetry in chirality being manufactured from a standard physical scenario ultimately prove to be wrong? Does this challenge ID?

    Although I am open to the idea that life may require a creative dispensation supplementing standard physics, I’m very wary of identifying ID exclusively with extra-evolutionary science: One needs to guard against the possibility that physical scenarios explaining the asymmetry in chirality might just creep out of the wood work (see for example the comment by “David” on Robert Sheldon’s blog). Then what? Do we stay with ID only in so far as standard “evolutionary” theory proves wanting? Would we give up our belief in the need of an intelligent creator if physics proved efficacious enough to generate life?

    I think not: If life can “evolve” given the standard physical dispensation, then it would only do so because that dispensation has been selected by the Creator from amongst so many possibilities that its information content would then be great enough to support the information required by life. The information embodied in life would have its source in an extremely rare and surprising choice of physics and therefore there would be no need to dispense with ID should evolutionary ideas prove valid.

    As we know experimental evidence regarding the history of life is ambiguous enough to allow ID supporters to range from YEC’s through those who accept millions of years of common descent, to those such as Robert Sheldon who appear to be toying Hoyle’s with panspermia. The equivocation amongst ID theorists about the evidence for natural history sets a precedent that could be used to justify a tolerance of theistic evolutionists amongst the anti-evolution ID community. The evidence concerning the historical details of how the Almighty has imposed remarkable and rare patterns on the cosmos may be equivocal and contentious, but ID supporters from YECs to theistic evolutionists can agree on the ultimate source of improbability: Intelligent Design.

  4. Bornagain77: Thanks again for those links you gave me here.

    Unfortunately as in other anti-evolutionist treatments of complexity, they critique only the suggestion of the dynamic “production of information” from non-linear processes

    Firstly, I am making no demand that information be “created” by a physical process – that information, I would acknowledge, is sourced in the creator; my question relates more to how that information is introduced by the creator. Clearly there are great differences of opinion here: For example, great differences between just how the YEC community see the creator’s information being introduced and those on UD who believe in an old Earth.

    Secondly, the object I am trying to get a handle on is not a dynamic object like a bio-polymer, but a static platonic object; namely the layout of configuration space. This object is a computational object and has no material reification. It therefore cannot be precipitated out in test tube.

    So in summary it looks as though these links don’t address my pertinent issues. However, I hope to deal with these links in more detail and with more justice on my blog; the above is rather cursory.

  5. Mr Reeves, these links may be of interest to you:

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport. http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    It is interesting to note that the information is encoded on the photon in the experiment while the photon is in its “wave” state (a wave state which is defined as infinite information by Duwell)

    also of note “quantum information waves” have been shown to have the ability to be completely transcendent of any 3-D material basis in teleportation experiments (completely without regard to time or space, save for the speed of light communication of particle state imposed on us retrieving the teleported information)):

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....2/5389/706

    Thus “transcendent information” is a entity of its own right, separate from matter-energy that has dominion of 3D material reality.

    Moreover:

    This following experiment highlights the centrality of consciousness in the Double Slit Experiment as to the wave collapse and refutes any “detector centered” arguments for wave collapse:

    Delayed choice quantum eraser
    http://onemorebrown.wordpress......um-eraser/

    of note; Consciousness must be INFORMED with local certainty to cause the wave to become a particle. We know from the Double Slit Experiment, with delayed erasure, that the simple fact of a detector being present is NOT sufficient to explain the wave collapse. If the detector results are erased after detection but before conscious analysis we see the wave form result instead of the particle result. This clearly establishes the centrality of consciousness to the whole experiment. i.e. The clear implication from the experiment is that consciousness is primary, and detection secondary, to the collapse of the wave function to a 3-D particle. Consciousness must precede 3-Dimensional material reality.

    Thus Mr Reeves,
    Infinite transcendent information and consciousness are both shown to be necessary for 3-D material reality to exist, and as I hope you can see this “scientifically” provides a mechanism for how “God” implements novel information onto existing quantum waves, of matter-energy, in order to create a new life forms.

  6. Bornagain said,

    “Consciousness must be INFORMED with local certainty to cause the wave to become a particle. We know from the Double Slit Experiment, with delayed erasure, that the simple fact of a detector being present is NOT sufficient to explain the wave collapse. If the detector results are erased after detection but before conscious analysis we see the wave form result instead of the particle result. This clearly establishes the centrality of consciousness to the whole experiment. i.e. The clear implication from the experiment is that consciousness is primary, and detection secondary, to the collapse of the wave function to a 3-D particle. Consciousness must precede 3-Dimensional material reality.”

    Does this mean that later detection by a conscious observer actually has an effect of what is detected in the past?

  7. Collin-

    “Does this mean that later detection by a conscious observer actually has an effect of what is detected in the past?”

    I’ve heard something like that claimed regarding an experiment involving random number generators.

  8. What does it mean that photons have infinite information?

  9. Collin, Quantum events are shown to be independent of time constraints:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: “our delayed choice of how to measure the particle determines how the particle actually behaved at an earlier time.”"”,,, So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    This is only extremely problematic for the materialist Collin.

  10. Collin you ask;

    “What does it mean that photons have infinite information?”

    That a photon is found to be mathematically defined as “infinite information” fits extremely well with the Theistic postulation that only the mind of God is infinite and perfect in knowledge. i.e. since it takes infinite information for a photon qubit to have a defined reality, which has been verified empirically by teleportation, then only that which is able to impart infinite specified information may create each individual photon qubit at the Big Bang.

  11. Collin @ 8

    What does it mean that photons have infinite information?

    Nothing.

    Think of it like one of those just-so stories Darwinists are always being accused of spinning – only bigger.

    8

    Collin

    04/30/2010

    5:00 pm

    What does it mean that photons have infinite information?

  12. seversky,

    Converting Quantum Bits: Physicists Transfer Information Between Matter and Light
    Excerpt: A team of physicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology has taken a significant step toward the development of quantum communications systems by successfully transferring quantum information from two different groups of atoms onto a single photon.
    http://gtresearchnews.gatech.e.....mtrans.htm

    But alas seversky, do not dogmatic materialists, such as yourself insist that information is but an “emergent” property of atoms which is not real but an illusion? Such as you insist the mind is but an emergent illusion? How is it then possible for an “illusion” of two groups of atoms to be encoded and decoded from a single photon?

    Don’t despair, I think I found the “scientific” solution for the crushing problem that transcendent information presents to you materialists seversky:
    http://www.wolaver.org/animals/ostrich.jpg

  13. bornagain77 @ 12

    Converting Quantum Bits: Physicists Transfer Information Between Matter and Light…

    Fascinating phenomenon. Nothing in there about single photons containing infinite transcendent information. Anything else?

  14. Seversky:
    Exactly what is the payoff for me providing you with any further evidence whatsoever since you will simply deny it is valid? I would much rather that you provide the formal proof that your base materialistic philosophy is scientifically valid in the first place. If you did provide such formal proof for the validity of materialism at least I would be reasonable enough to admit that you had a valid scientific point instead of just denying your proof is valid, solely based on my own “tastes” as to how the “evidence” should be interpreted as you do to IDists with all the evidence that validates Theism.

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.
    http://www.4truth.net/site/c.h.....ialism.htm

    “Atoms are not things”
    Werner Heisenberg

  15. Bornagain77. Thanks for the fascinating links! I think this thread has gone stratospheric as a consequence! Hope Dr. Sheldon doesn’t mind too much.

    B’again77 says:

    The clear implication from the experiment is that consciousness is primary, and detection secondary, to the collapse of the wave function to a 3-D particle. Consciousness must precede 3-Dimensional material reality.

    My Comment: Although I might quibble a little over just how ‘clear’ it is, I nevertheless agree with the sentiment that “sentience is primary”; in any case I lean toward a Berkelian Idealist position.

    Thus Mr Reeves,
    Infinite transcendent information and consciousness are both shown to be necessary for 3-D material reality to exist, and as I hope you can see this “scientifically” provides a mechanism for how “God” implements novel information onto existing quantum waves, of matter-energy, in order to create a new life forms.

    My comment: Yes, possibly: I think I would have to think long and hard about that. Trouble is, this “configuration space” object that I keep harping on about, and which is so pertinent to standard evolution and abiogenesis, is as much as an unknown to me as these more exotic suggestions. Hence, I have to run these unknowns side by side in my mind. Dr. Sheldon’s panspermian (?) suggestions seem to be yet another scenario to take on board!

    Exactly what is the payoff for me providing you with any further evidence whatsoever since you will simply deny it is valid?

    My comment: I know feeling! I might use that phrase myself somewhere!

  16. Mr. Reeves, a little more to chew on as you think this over is that “information” in quantum teleportation, and entanglement, experiments is shown to be completely transcendent of space and time. Couple that with the fact that the entity needed to explain the origination of energy in the Big Bang must be transcendent of space-time, matter-energy, since space-time, matter-energy, were brought into being at the Big Bang, then you can start to see how the puzzle fits neatly together:

    notes:

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”(Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    “The prediction of the standard model that the universe began to exist remains today as secure as ever—indeed, more secure, in light of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem and that prediction’s corroboration by the repeated and often imaginative attempts to falsify it. The person who believes that the universe began to exist remains solidly and comfortably within mainstream science.” – William Lane Craig
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....38;id=6115

    Inflationary spacetimes are not past-complete – Borde-Guth-Vilenkin – 2003
    Excerpt: inflationary models require physics other than inflation to describe the past boundary of the inflating region of spacetime.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110012

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can long longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” Alexander Vilenkin – Many Worlds In One – Pg. 176

  17. I like wide-ranging debates, even if they never return to their starting point.

    On the one hand, claiming that infinite information can be encoded in one photon, is an oxymoron, since two infitinities are more than one, so what do we do with virtual photons and the infinity of infinities?

    On the other hand, it is a clever way to turn the universe inside out, putting the whole universe in a grain of sand….

    My way of resolving this dual conundrum, is to believe in truth of both. (You remember the scene from Fiddler on the Roof–…and you’re right too! said Tevya. “But Tevya, they can’t BOTH be right!” “And you’re right TOO!”)

    Let “turning the universe inside out” be a mathematical operator, say, the Fourier Transform. Then just as the universe is infinite, so also the spatial transform of the universe must be infinite, even when the space has been integrated out. To maximize the information content of the system, both the universe and its transform must have the same amount of information. Thus if the universe has infinite information, so does its transform, as idealized in a photon.

    In just such a way, homochirality is a window into the mind of the maker. There may yet turn out to be a physical reason that necessitates homochirality, but the important thing is that it exists, and that its Fourier transform has the information why life is left-handed.

  18. Dr. Sheldon, a photon is not the “absolute infinite”, i.e. God as by Georg Cantor. A photon is a merely a “specified infinite”:

    Gödel’s Incompleteness: The #1 Mathematical Breakthrough of the 20th Century
    Excerpt: Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:
    “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove.”
    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......pleteness/

    This video will let you understand the absolute infinity of Cantor a little better:

    BBC-Dangerous Knowledge (Part 1-10)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw-zNRNcF90

    BBC-Dangerous Knowledge (Part 2-10)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpWXT9yMBnw

  19. Dr. Sheldon, I just remembered Hilbert’s Hotel goes well with the paradox of a photon having the “hypothetically” ability to be encoded with infinite information:

    Hilbert’s Hotel and Infinity – William Lane Craig
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lobeX6ft6PA

  20. Dr. Sheldon, Hopefully we can bring it back around to Homochirality very soon as I do want to learn more, thanks for your patience, but I just wanted to address your passing remark about “virtual” photons before we do, in that I believe the virtual photons may tie directly into the anthropic principle, as virtual particles have now been found to tie in directly to it:

    Virtual Particles, Anthropic Principle & Relativity – Michael Strauss PhD.
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4554674

  21. Dr. Sheldon,
    It seems virtual photons may be tide to the anthropic principle through the 1 in 10^120 cosmological constant for dark energy:

    ELECTROMAGNETIC DARK ENERGY
    We introduce a new model for dark energy in the Universe in which a small cosmological constant is generated by ordinary electromagnetic vacuum energy. The corresponding virtual photons exist at all frequencies but switch from a gravitationally active phase at low frequencies to a gravitationally inactive phase at higher frequencies via a Ginzburg–Landau type of phase transition. Only virtual photons in the gravitationally active state contribute to the cosmological constant. A small vacuum energy density, consistent with astronomical observations, is naturally generated in this model. We propose possible laboratory tests for such a scenario based on phase synchronization in superconductors.
    http://www.worldscinet.com/ijm.....11870.html

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