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Prebiotic Information Crisis

Package models and the information crisis of prebiotic evolution
Daniel A. M. M. Silvestre,  Jos´e F. Fontanari
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0710/0710.3278v1.pdf

The coexistence of different types of templates has been the choice solution to the information crisis of prebiotic evolution, triggered by the finding that a single RNA-like template cannot carry enough information to code for any useful replicase. In principle, confining d distinct templates of length L in a package or protocell, whose survival depends on the coexistence of the templates it holds in, could resolve this crisis provided that d is made sufficiently large.

We review the prototypical package model of Niesert et al. (1981) which guarantees the greatest possible region of viability of the protocell population, and show that this model, and hence the entire package approach, does not resolve the information crisis. This is so because to secure survival the total information content of the protocell, Ld, must tend to a constant value that depends only on the spontaneous error rate per nucleotide of the template replication mechanism. As a result, an increase of d must be followed by a decrease of L to ensure the protocell viability, so that the net information gain is null.

Coming up with a coherent scenario to explain the coexistence of distinct templates has proved to be a most difficult endeavor and it may already be time to turn to new approaches to solve the information crisis of prebiotic evolution. We have nothing to offer on this direction.

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12 Responses to Prebiotic Information Crisis

  1. I am very encourged by the last sentence of the letter. Has it really come to the point where Darwinists can no longer ignore us and feel compelled to take a swipe at us? I suspect that as late as 15 years ago, they would have ignored ID as not worth mentioning. Why the difference? Because 15 years ago ID was not a threat. Now it is. The monolith trembles again. How much longer before it topples?

  2. barry, i missed it. where was the swipe? it looks like a blatant admission that they are at an impasse. at any rate, i missed the ID swipe.

  3. last sentence; just before the footnotes start.

  4. The existence of such structure need not necessarily rest on intel-
    ligent design or the anthropic principle.

    Translation: You see we just came up with another fantastic “just so” from our imaginations, so we are not ready to give up and admit Intelligent Design is the compelling solution to the overwhelming complexity we find in molecular biology.

  5. HAHA! That last sentence is priceless!

    It’s as if, in the draft copy, they had as a placeholder there:

    “[insert obligatory hat tip to blind chance/dismissal of ID, here]”

    I envision Nick Matzke a year ago, firing off an email to his massive distribution list, with clear instructions about the necessisity of such disclaimers in all papers to be reviewed.

    Oh, good times.

  6. Shouldn’t the link be http://arxiv.org/pdf/0710.3278.pdf? These are two different papers.

  7. Sorry guys, I had the wrong link. I have corrected it now.

  8. IDnet,

    It may have been the wrong link, but it was a great laugh ;-) So thanks! I’m saving the link.

    Why is modularity so prevalent in the natural world?
    Our hypothesis is that a changing environment selects for
    adaptable frameworks, and competition among different
    evolutionary frameworks leads to selection of structures
    with the most efficient dynamics, which are the modular
    ones. We have provided evidence validating this hypoth-
    esis. We suggest that the beautiful, intricate, and inter-
    related structures observed in nature may be the generic
    result of evolution in a changing environment. The exis-
    tence of such structure need not necessarily rest on intel-
    ligent design or the anthropic principle.

    They ran a simulation with fitness guidelines, then declared their assumptions were correct via “spontaneous modularity” from bottom-up processes. It is all based upon a “may be” and certainly does not rule out ID.

    Any software engineer understands the purpose of modularity.

    Maybe it deserves its own post for critical look, as well as the last paragraph? For example their underlying assumptions, simulation, fitness levels, etc., versus Top-Down processing techniques which allow for modular coding in dynamic environments.

    What a mine-field poor Darwinian supporters must walk thru now. They must follow a map thru the field of safe Darwinian pre-approved words and obligatory ID denial. What utter oppressive mind-control rubbish that NCSE and Nick Matzke put these people thru. How can they live with themselves? I’ve always found repressive thought rules such as this to destroy a creative working environment and deter creative people from moving forward.

    Thankfully, ID can embrace all of these mechanisms to different extents and not be afraid how the combination may work. The question is not how the actor acts, but how the Producer utilizes all forces. The producer can allow the actor(s) to act multiple ways from strict guidelines of scriptual roles to full improvisational moments, included role of freedom by selection of any number of Directors.

    Is America, Land of the Free, or Land of the Darwinites?

    “Abrupt” is OK, not “Ready-Made”

    Iccck, How sad, but at least they’re not “Expelled” as long as they behave and kneel before their Masters at NCSE.

    OT note – Additional Descent: TopDown Causation by Informational Control…
    I enjoyed the paper, right side as well from arvix.org.

  9. “The difficulty is illustrated
    in Fig. 4 which shows that the lower the diversity, the higher the growth rate of the metapopulation. So, in the case that two such metapopulations are set to compete in the same environment, it is evident that the lineage with higher diversity will inevitably be excluded. The situation becomes even worse in the presence of parasites and lethal mutants, since these mutants tend to cause more harm to the lineages with high diversity (see Figs. 8 and 10). This is a very unpleasant situation, the solution of which requires ad hoc assumptions about the protocell fitness (e.g., a fitness that increases with the template diversity) or about the dependence of  on d in order to revert the negative scenario revealed by Fig. 4.”

    Very “unpleasant situation” indeed. How does competition tie in with modularity of a “changing environment.” I’d say it ties in with conservation of core modular components.

  10. So, are posts 1-5 referencing a different paper?

  11. and I might add the modular components must not be mistaken for pathways which can be unique, but still exist in functional equivalency classes as related in the paper on the right.

    This is not just a prebiotic issue, it is observed post-biotic as well. What we observe is an inherit weakness away from core, whether in bacteria or more complex multi-cellular life forms. I think in turn this presents a real problem to the Darwinian Tree of Life or Bush of Life.

    Essentially, we’re looking at a core templates representing a forest of trees, that are allowed to stretch via external forces, but only so far before an upper boundary is reached and culls the overtly divergent of a species. What we observe are the extreme cases of survival potential, a potential before the precipice of extinction.

  12. The last sentence in this other paper is almost as refreshingly honest as the first paper was:

    Coming up with a coherent scenario to explain the coexistence of distinct templates has proved to be a most difficult endeavor and it may already be time to turn to new approaches to solve the information crisis of prebiotic evolution. We have nothing to offer on this direction.

    What do you want to bet that they will develop even more elaborate “just so” materialistic scenarios.

    I hope it is not so because I truly feel it is preventing scientific progress,,,,

    What will embracing Intelligent Design do for science?

    Possibly nothing then again possibly a lot of stuff we can barely dream about,,,but the main point is continuing to force science down a blind alley will only severely impede whatever breakthroughs await on the other side of realized truth!

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