Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Paul Nelson

At 4:38 of this interview, Paul Nelson says that the Miller-Urey experiment is incorrectly interpreted by textbooks as having “synthesized life.” What he meant to say was “the building blocks of life.” Dr. Nelson regrets the error.

Michael Behe’s Challenge: A Conversation with Biologist Ann Gauger

At Why Evolution Is True, Jerry Coyne pictures a newly rediscovered and rather unhandsome fly native to a particular rock in Kenya (and nowhere else) where it sports about in the bat guano deposited in a cleft in the rock. The fly has only vestigial wings — “evidence for evolution, of course,” notes Dr. Coyne. Isn’t it interesting how “evidence for evolution” tends to be, as in this example, evidence not for the building up of new functionality but for its loss, where the loss has some adaptive advantage? Losing information is one thing — like accidentally erasing a computer file (say, an embarrassing diplomatic cable) where, it turns out in retrospect, you’re better off now that’s it not there Read More ›

Michael Behe’s “First Rule of Adaptive Evolution” Could Undermine the Evolution of Functional Coding Elements

After reviewing the effects of mutations upon Functional Coding ElemenTs (FCTs), Michael Behe’s recent review article in Quarterly Review of Biology, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” offers some conclusions. In particular, as the title suggests, Behe introduces a rule of thumb he calls the “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: “Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.” In essence, what Behe means is that mutations that cause loss-of-FCT are going to be far more likely and thus far more common than those which gain a functional coding element. In fact, he writes: “the rate of appearance of an adaptive mutation that would arise from the diminishment Read More ›

Arsenic and Old News

The media has been buzzing about NASA’s claim that scientists that have discovered “life as we do not know it” (MSNBC)–purportedly finding bacteria that can use arsenic instead of phosphorous in its DNA. David Klinghoffer already blogged about this story here, interviewing astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez (who has conducted research on astrobiology) on the find. The public first became aware of this story last week when NASA announced it would be holding a press conference that would reveal “an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” NASA’s announcement inspired a chorus of speculative excitement among materialists and UFO true-believers alike, who stated things like: NASA is holding a press conference on Thursday to make an announcement. Read More ›