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Universe from Order to DisOrder - Evolutionary Mishaps

  1. Jun 17, 2011 #1

    According to physics, the universe is expanding with increasing entropy from a state of Order to Disorder.

    Can this be connected with the idea of the mishaps/misfiring that occur in evolution ie dysfunctional organsims etc that we see all around us.

    Ie the process of going from Order to Disorder causes a transient misfiring until equilibrium is found.

    Perhaps there is no connection whatsoever.....I am just wondering
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2011 #2


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    I'm not sure what you mean by dysfunctional or transient misfiring.

    Entropy obviously has a huge effect on biology due to it's relevance in chemical behaviour (i.e. protein folding) but it doesn't mean that biological systems cannot grow in complexity or order. If you are asking if entropy causes mutation I'm afraid the answer is no (mutation is caused by a variety of mechanisms).

    The whole order --> disorder thing refers to closed systems. No organism on Earth lives in a closed system therefore order --> disorder does not apply that much in evolutionary biology.
  4. Jun 17, 2011 #3
    Thats pretty much what I was asking...thanks. So what causes these mutations in the first place...why does it go wrong?

    This is a laymans questions directed at experts :-)

  5. Jun 17, 2011 #4


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    No problem, if you click on the part of my post where it said "variety of mechanisms" it will take you to the section of a wikipedia page that lists a series of common reasons.

    Mutations can happen because of spontaneous effects at the molecular level or it can be induced by chemical, biological and radiation means. All of these can either cause a change in the DNA itself or lead to the molecule that copies DNA making a mistake.

    When this occurs in a somatic (body) cell and doesn't get fixed it can either have no effect, it can kill the cell or it can cause cancer. If it happens in a gamete (sex) cell then the mutation can be passed on to the offspring.

    This is how mutations arise in a species; natural selection, genetic drift and gene flow will then decide the effects of this mutation.
  6. Jun 17, 2011 #5
    Ok, interesting but above my head...and these 'mistakes' happen becasue nature is not perfect?

    Thanks again.
  7. Jun 17, 2011 #6
    It is not that difficult though it might take some time. Reading that wikipedia article on mutations carefully would give you a pretty good idea of what a mutation is and how it works.

    You could say that, although there are many ways through which mutations can happen (refer to Ryan's link).

    And remember that not all mutations are mistakes. Somatic hypermutation is an important process through which the immune system adapts and prepares itself for future infections.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
  8. Jun 20, 2011 #7
    Ok thanks,

    I am wondering do we have an equivalent for the universe. How the universe is evolving...do mistakes happen out there ( in the context of my first post)?
  9. Jun 20, 2011 #8
    How do you define a mistake? The word "mistake" implies intention. If I intend one result and get another, I have made a mistake. Does nature have intention? Does nature "care" about fetal malformations or evolutionary dead ends. If an asteroid hits the earth and wipes out all life except perhaps microorganisms, is that a mistake?
  10. Jun 20, 2011 #9


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    The universe is not evolving in the same sense. In biology "evolution" means change in "allele frequency within a population over time" or to put it another way "replication with variation under environmental attrition".

    In physics the terms stellar evolution and galactic evolution are used. These things use the word evolution in the sense of gradual change, not biological evolution.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  11. Jun 20, 2011 #10

    Do religious people not see that importance of this? That nature just continues on and the idea of an asteroid hitting earth is not ludicrous. Just because humans are the most advanced/adaptable species doesnt make us devine......

    I think I am goin off topic now.

  12. Jun 20, 2011 #11
    This is interesting.
  13. Jun 20, 2011 #12


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    The English language is full of little annoyances like this. I have seen some creationist arguments start with the premise "there are six definitions of evolution..." before discussing cosmic evolution, stellar evolution, chemical evolution etc. But they are making the simplistic mistake of assuming that the word has one meaning.

    The other big problem similar to this in science is the common use of the terms "proof", "prove" and "fact". In science we discuss evidence and only use these terms to mean "evidenced beyond reasonable doubt" whereas in the common use they mean "absolutely true".
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