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Why does DNA code for anything?

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Johnny Neuron
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Why does DNA code for anything?

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All right, this is a question that goes right to the heart of scientific understanding. I know the basic principles of genetics but I have no idea why DNA codes for anything in the first place. Why does a series of genetic material code for blue eyes at all? I guess the question could be expanded to include all physical materials -- why do elements have properties? How far can we reduce something before we have to say "It just is?" I don't no if anybody on this planet can answer that, but give it a try!B
auswiq

Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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Your "why" prompts one word into my mind - teleology.It is evident that all physical structures and systems aregoverned by inherent laws. To me, existence of 'law' (i.e boundary-setting principle) which I also see as that which gives all things their discreteness, is what makes systems possible; whether they be DNA configurations; automobilesor the cosmos. These laws also imply a system's intended purpose(e.g, DNA - species propagation; automobile -conveyance,etc). Otherwise, why have inherent laws for no intended reason at all? Laws, to me, also imply foresight - by this, I mean that all of what constitutes this entire, integrated cosmic system must surely be ultimately attributable to Someone or Something that had first planned, then put together this coherently functional cosmic system with all its sub-systems, working together through their inherent lawsto mutual purpose rather than to meaningless chaos.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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AuswiqSo intelligent design seems evident to you...and to many people. If this is the extent of your beliefs you would be classified as a deist. Out of curiousity what is your belief system? Most of us have some form of "ism" with which we associate.People see the beauty and complexity and order of the cosmos and deduce that a greater intelligence must be responsible. Maybe so. I just don't see it being reasonable to replace the mystery of existence with an even larger mystery - that of a supernatural entity that defies physics and the first cause law.I will say this, and perhaps you have an opinion you can add...Something is fishy with this Big Bang theory stuff. I know as much as a reasonably educated layman on the subject, which would include that there is ample evidence that we live in an expanding universe filled with background radiation. But a singularity? Why? It just doesn't make sense. Everything was compacted into a single point...for what purpose? What made it explode?If our species doesn't eventually destroy itself we might someday have these answers. I get a feeling that we really have no clue at this point. I think of our current level of understanding of cosmology and physics to be like the exposed tip of an iceberg floating and bobbing along. The bulk of the iceberg lies deep underwater, as does the answers to the big questions of where we came from and where we are going.Chris
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ZachSylvanus
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Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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Chris: Check out the theory of Inflation, such as presented in Alan Guth's The Inflationary Universe.Basically it hypothesizes no central, single point of all-matter, but instead utilizes quantum fluctuations of a complete vacuum. Basically, in a vacuum, quantum particles appear and annhilate each other all the time. There is not, however, any limit as to the amount of energy that can so appear....our Universe may very well be one of these fluctuations.
auswiq

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Chris,I am very much on the side of the theists(Gk 'ho theos' - The God) and this, due to ample evidence of the inherentteleological principle, governing the whole cosmic system and its sub-systems. To me,such a principle implies the existence of a Supremely intelligent Being who is the sourceand ground of all being; a rational Mind capable of forethought; will; intelligible communication and moral character. I agree that from the empirical, scientific point of view, it is futile to attempt to address the mystery of how all existence came to be, with another; that of God - something which cannot be tested and verified in our laboratories. Now, I know that what I've stated so far, could invoke the comment "Isn't this 'god-concept' simply a modern version of the old mythological stance of inventing gods/goddesses toaddress what cannot be [yet] understood scientifically?" - Well, I'd like to know then how then do thenon-sentient/conscious, blind sub-atomic constituents of the cosmos account for, say, intelligence; Will; morality; intricate system-building; empathy etc? Yes, I too am dubious about this idea of some spontaneous eruption of cosmic diahorrea,belched out of a primordial, hyperspacial case of hypothetical constipation, wheelbarrow-illions ofyears ago, and of which we are supposed to be very auspicious products. Certainly smelly, this B.B stuff alright.Perhaps instead of singularity, it was a 'smeared out' genesisfrom probabilistic quantum interactions, but then the question; 'what started that off' - after all, A doesnt spontaneously arise from nonA, so....?
stevepainter

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Zach beat me to it. Look up what you can regarding quantum fluctuations in a vacuum. This much is fact: particles and anti-particles do 'pop' into existence, essentially out of nothing all the time. They also almost always destroy each other as soon as they come into existence. The key is the 'almost'.Every once in a while, they fail to destroy each other and a 'new' particle/anti-particle pair comes into existence in the universe. The sum of their matter and energy is zero (0), so there is no violation of any known scientific laws.Guth's contribution is to show that it is plausible, given a vacuum (nothingness) and the observed quantum fluctuations, for all the matter in the universe to 'pop' into existence from essentially nothingness by sheer chance. Not only do Guth's calculations make it plausible, his theory makes a 'big bang' style event an inevitable consequence of quantum fluctuations in a vacuum.That's the 'Cliff's notes' version anyway. Look into it. Fascinating stuff. As usual, there's no way to claim that this MUST have been the way it happened, and it might not be the way things happened, but the notion of intelligent design implies that there MUST be a designer because supposedly there is no other way to explain things. My biggest problem with intelligent design is that it fails to explain the designer. If it's OK to claim that the designer just IS or came to be out of nothingness, etc. then why not the universe? Why include an incredibly complex, yet unaccounted for, designer just to explain a complex universe? That seems to me like claiming that the reason for the egg isn't the chicken, but the farmer. As if chickens wouldn't exist without farmers to manage them. I'm not entirely satisfied with that analogy, but I hope it gets the idea across.Steve
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Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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SteveQuote:My biggest problem with intelligent design is that it fails to explain the designer. If it's OK to claim that the designer just IS or came to be out of nothingness, etc. then why not the universe? Why include an incredibly complex, yet unaccounted for, designer just to explain a complex universe? ID adherents replace one mystery with an even bigger mystery. Oh, and then they immediately discontinue the chain of inquiry. They stop asking why and how as soon as they reach the issue of a creator.I'll look into this quantum fluctuation thing - but I fear the math involved with be over my head.Chris
Jeremy1952
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Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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Many questions like this are best understood when turned around. DNA was selected by Life because it can code. That is, the ability to code is useful for Life; so when a molecule comes along that can, it is so used.Think of a simpler version: why are bones made of hard stuff? Did calcium just happen to show up where it would do the most good? Nah. The variation end of natural selection "tried" many alternatives, and the one that worked, survived.I was reading Niall earlier today about Thomas' Aquinas' "proofs" of god. Aquinas felt his strongest case was how well-suited everything around us is, to our comfort and well being. He missed what seems obvious to me... we are surrounded by stuff that is good and useful to us, because it was there first and we adapted to what exists. If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984
the hive queen

Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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Quote:we are surrounded by stuff that is good and useful to us, because it was there first and we adapted to what exists.I remember learning in school that oxygen is actually a poison, and it was a huge obstacle for our ancestors to leave water and head for land. We had to adapt to a negative environment. Here's one more issue: Mammals had to develop a placenta to keep our bodies from destroying the fetus inside (which has a different genetic code than the mother). If this really was "God's seed", why would our bodies reject it?edited to add: Sorry, I forgot we weren't discussing religion "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching." -- Keller WilliamsEdited by: the hive queen at: 7/13/04 12:09 pm
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Re: Why does DNA code for anything?

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Quote:I am very much on the side of the theists(Gk 'ho theos' - The God) and this, due to ample evidence of the inherentEvolution is not teleological. There is no ultimate perfection that evolution strives for.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.
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