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 Post subject: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:10 am 
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http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/20 ... .html#more


As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Geneticists, Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida, have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by the measure of Moore's Law, life is older than the Earth itself.

The team takes Moore's Law back to zero complexity and the origin of life, by measuring the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish, amphibians and eventually mammals. The result is an exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law with the doubling time, however, expanding to 376 million years rather than every two years.
The application of Linear regression of genetic complexity on a log scale extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life 9.7 billion years ago. This cosmic time scale for the evolution of life has important consequences: life took ca. 5 billion years to reach the complexity of bacteria; the environments in which life originated and evolved to the prokaryote stage may have been quite different from those envisaged on Earth. Therefore they suggest that if life takes 10 billion years to evolve to the level of complexity associated with homo sapiens, then we may be among the first, if not the first, intelligent civilisation in the Milky Way, negating Drakes Equation.

Original article at MIT technology review:

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/51 ... n-of-life/

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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:52 pm 
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I haven't read the article yet, but my first thought upon reading your post was "this sounds just like those people who claim that it is scientifically impossible for bumblebees to fly".

You'd think that the age of the Earth would be a sort of backstop, a check on their theoretical work by imposing upon it some constraints of reality. But no, apparently.

Finally, this reminds me of a clever aphorism I once read:

In theory, theory trumps reality.
In reality, it doesn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:04 pm 
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If we were to take Moore's Law premise of life doubling in complexity every 18 months, does it mean that by 2015 we would have no more reality TV shows or just weirder ones?

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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:32 pm 
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by the way, Moore's Law isn't a law, it's really an observation, and it was an observation over a certain range of time in the semiconductor industry. There's nothing binding about it.

Anyone remember Rodney Stark's predictions about the size of the Mormon Church in the next few years? Yeah, it was all pretty ridiculous, and based on assumptions that rates of membership growth would continue indefinitely as they were observed to be over a relatively short period of time. Obviously times have changed, and Stark's model is defunct.

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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:42 pm 
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But this is actually good news for the Evolutionist as it allows more time for modern man to lose his fur. :confused:


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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:49 am 
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The piece in MIT Technology Review was a blog post, not a paper. And as the blog post title indicates, the two scientists who did the work simply tried to apply Moore's law to the molecular genetics of evolution.

As Sethbag points out, Moore's law is not really a law, it is an observation of the development of complex technology resulting from a human-directed process. There is no reason to assume that natural processes, especially under the influence of radically different and often fast changing physical environments over time, should exhibit the same rate of development.

The blog post highlights an interesting (but somewhat trivial) observation, and should not be considered evidence of more than that.

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 Post subject: Re: Is life older than the Earth? Geneticists say "Maybe!"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:35 am 
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All this says to me is that assuming the rate of increase in complexity is the same now as it always has been is a bad assumption. Which is an interesting thing to consider in and of itself.

ETA: extrapolating is always fun. One of my favorites is the overpopulation problem. If you hold the rate of population increase constant, the world will be totally packed within a century. Of course, if you hold constant the rate that the rate of population increase is changing (2nd derivative), the world will be unpopulated within a century.


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