RE: American Journal of Physics
D. Roemer said:
The primary structure of a large protein can have 600 amino acids. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids. Biologists imagine that the 600 amino acids are non-interacting particles, just like in a gas. Just as in statistical mechanics, biologists ask how many different ways there are of arranging 600 amino acids? The answer is 600 to the 20th power instead of N!. Thus, it is impossible to get a protein by random chance since there is only 3 billion years available for the protein to evolve. This is why biologists say evolution violates the second law. It is the same kind of reasoning that explains why a gas will fill up the entire container.
This is confusing to me. Are you sure the statistical approach is restricted to non-interacting particles? That doesn't sound very biological. If we combine helium and oxygen in a gas chamber experiment, similar to the one you described earlier, then try the same experiment with carbon and oxygen, won't we see a significant variance in the results due to variables not considered in a simple statistical gas analysis? As long as a given structure somehow benefits from any change, and the new structure can be replicated, why would statistics claim otherwise? I don't see evolution violating the 2nd law any more than a refrigerator might, though I am neither biologist nor physicist.
[I too think it will be 20 to the power of 600 in possible mathematical combinations.]
The tenet of natural selection is a general term, not a specific process. Indeed, it wasn't until genetics came along that Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection became respected.
A minor nit: Big Bang Theory was not discovered in the 1960s, though the cosmic background radiation was discovered in 1964, which gave huge credence to the original, but less structured, theory by Lemaitre from his 1927 paper. His "primeval atom" was introduced, I think, in 1931 while in England.
Last edited Sunday, March 11, 2012