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"Immortal Molecule" Evolves — How Close To Synthetic Life?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the non-instant-soup dept.

Biotech 270

An anonymous reader writes with word of ongoing work at Scripps Research Institute: "Can life arise from nothing but a chaotic assortment of basic molecules? The answer is a lot closer following a series of ingenious experiments that have shown evolution at work in non-living molecules."

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not as close as this first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214766)

suck my asshole, faggots!

Re:not as close as this first post (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215420)

please evolve

what is a living molecule? (4, Insightful)

meow27 (1526173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214774)

"evolution at work in non-living molecules."

molecules can live?

ok just making sure :)

Re:what is a living molecule? (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214792)

> molecules can live?

You are molecules. Do you live?

Re:what is a living molecule? (4, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214810)

There is no "life", there is only cohesiveness over time. The magical attribute called "alive" does not actually exist anywhere in our Universe ;) We just don't happen to fall apart for a while while we compute.

Re:what is a living molecule? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214820)

"We just don't happen to fall apart for a while while we compute."

Uhhh, yea, and we call that attribute life.

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214868)

for a while

You missed the important part.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

the biologist (1659443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214966)

and you missed the important part where we call that attribute life.

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215486)

Really? Temporary cohesion is equivalent to life? So rocks and icebergs are alive?

Re:what is a living molecule? (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215680)

He did also say "while we compute". None the less I actually agree with your point; it is obvious that you have the equivalent amount of computing power as the average iceberg.

Re:what is a living molecule? (5, Informative)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214884)

In biology [wikipedia.org] , life is defined as have the following characteristics:

  • Homeostasis
  • Organization
  • Metabolism
  • Growth
  • Adaptation
  • Response to Stimuli
  • Reproduction

Having these characteristics defines something as being "alive." See, not magic.

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214904)

Where is the alive? Life is a process, not an attribute.

Re:what is a living molecule? (3, Informative)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214998)

Most of the things in the list your parent post gave are processes, as well, not attributes.

"Life" is merely a term we use to describe that collection of processes.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215044)

Living is the attribute of being in the process of life.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

the biologist (1659443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214980)

It looks like those evolving ribozymes are, by your definition list, alive. Nifty.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215070)

Except for the metabolism bit which viruses also lack.

Re:what is a living molecule? (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215322)

Except for the metabolism bit which viruses also lack.

At the C2 wiki a mad debate once broke out[1] about the definition of "life". What I've come to conclude based on my participation is the borderline is probably inherently fuzzy. Some things are "half alive". It's not a Boolean concept but rather a continuum, or at least many variables that we as humans have conveniently, and perhaps naively, packaged together into the mental concept called "life".

[1] I was about to say "lively debate"

Computational Beauty of Nature (4, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215072)

What biologists tend to pidgeon-hole as "life" is a sub-set of the wider computational process' in our Universe. How do we get from obviously non-living molecules up to these wonderful structures we call people who morally appreciate beauty? Well, it's all compuation and the devil is in the details: see Figure 1 [mit.edu] of The Computational Beauty of Nature [mit.edu] . The book both begins and ends with that figure - to reinforce the relationships in the deepest depths of our Universe. The philosophy when scaled up to our noble and good level of reality works smoothly the entire way. Recognition that the Universe, Biology, and Evolution are all Computational is just taking time to work it's way through the teaching material.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (2, Funny)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215100)

Damnit, I made a typo. Now I'm going to hell.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215346)

Since the concept of "hell" is a religious thing, and you clearly believe in things like biology and evolution (and I'm not saying you are or aren't religious here), you were probably already destined for hell anyway :)

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (2, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215458)

I just love playing with Christians with Figure 1 ;) You should see how livid one I was interacting with became! Yeah, I'm going to hell.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (3, Funny)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215658)

Damnit, I made a typo. Now I'm going to hell.

I think FSM would have forgiven you for the typo...

You should see how livid one I was interacting with became!

...but that sentence was just blasphemous.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215180)

I would lump this together with String Theory in the "cute, but doesn't get us anywhere category" but at least String Theory uses some kind of math to back itself up.

I'm sorry, but as much as I appreciate you not preaching a Judeo-Christian system, you're still just proselytizing.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215252)

Pick up the book sometime, it is *very* dense with the math. Perhaps the MIT Press part didn't give it away?

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215480)

I'm sorry, but as much as I appreciate you not preaching a Judeo-Christian system, you're still just proselytizing.

But what is he preaching? How is that different from:

Those who can surrender essential liberty to obtain temporary security deserve neither, and will lose both

It seems that is your viewpoint and it is a moral judgment ('deserve'). You are preaching a moral judgment. Also known as proselytizing, and you also prophesy: 'and will lose both'

Practically everyone who makes statements or even asks questions proselytizes theirs or others worldview. Including what I just said here.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (2, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215490)

This is what philosophy education buys you: you pay to learn to enjoy hearing yourself talk. ;-)

For what it's worth, I'm partial to the materialism.

Re:Computational Beauty of Nature (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215858)

It is interesting how much that diagram resembles the path of creation and destruction from Wu Xing [wikipedia.org] . Having not read the referenced book, I do not know if this was independently derived, or built upon from this ancient Chinese philosophy, but it is intriguing nonetheless.

Re:what is a living molecule? (3, Interesting)

carbuck (1728596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215210)

organization.. response to stimuli... reproduction.. by this definition, most /. are not alive

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215382)

organization.. response to stimuli... reproduction.. by this definition, most /. are not alive

Oh, give a slashdotter a Linux box with 16 cores and I guarantee you'll see "response to stimuli".
   

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215654)

"Reproduction" is still out of the question though.

a pretty high hurdle indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215250)

I suppose that appearing motionless for days is a form of "homeostasis", "response to stimuli" includes overbearing corrections whenever trolling remarks appear on a screen, and we can always find some working definition of "growth", but "reproduction"? I think we're collectively struggling there..

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215262)

Organization ... hmmmm ... guess I'm not alive.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215364)

In biology, life is defined as have the following characteristics:....Reproduction...Response to Stimuli...

Are these listed items AND'd together or OR'd?

And if one is kicked in the nuts really hard, they loose the ability to reproduce. Does this make them non-alive? (other than what their wife may say about their bedroom life).

Re:what is a living molecule? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215484)

Are these listed items AND'd together or OR'd?

Yes.

Re:what is a living molecule? (3, Informative)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215762)

I just saw this professor speak in a lecture to his peers. His conclusion was that what is preventing his molecules from being 'alive' is their inability to undertake novel action. They only go so far as to maximize their sustainability environment and nothing more. Though the 'environments' he gave the molecules were in fact static. It is only a matter of time before we can test situations which really do test our definitions.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215770)

Yeah. IN biology. Because biologic life is the only life that could possibly arise. Ever.

Life is just an expanding (reproduction/growth) mass of something that processes/transforms some matter against the forces of thermodynamics (from chaos to order). That’s all.

It doesn’t even have to be physical matter. Data is just as fine. Or energy in other forms. Or simulated $something inside a computer.

Also, drawing a clear line between “life” and “not life” is the dumbest fuckin’ think ever. The second dumbest: Drawing a clear line between “intelligent” and “not intelligent”. Like: click, flip the switch, now this thing is alive and intelligent, flip the switch and you got a stone. ;) Exaaaactly how nature is. ;)

There is something, even on this planet, for every single point on the scale from 0% to 100% alive. And “life” is just a word, that humans used for thousands of years, without exactly knowing what they were meaning, anyway.

So let it just stay there, and accept that the whole discussion just abso-fuckin silly. ^^

P.S.: That’s the writing style you get, after watching all clips of Peanut [youtube.com] available on the net, in one go! ;)

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215826)

My point is that life is a word, and that it does mean something very specific. I would argue that it might be best to use a different word to describe what we're talking about here. Likewise with the concept of intelligence. Both "life" and "intelligence" are too loaded with historic and cultural nonsense for us to redefine them with more broad-spectrum significance. This is why people who study such fields create their own nomenclature.

In short, life is a term which only really meaningfully applies to biological life. We should use a different term, to keep from confusing dumb people.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215868)

sounds more like one of them high pot thesis

Re:what is a living molecule? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214814)

You are molecules. Do you live?

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I'm made up of molecules but as a whole I'm much more than just molecules. I'm Anonymous Coward!

Re:what is a living molecule? (5, Insightful)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214818)

Composition fallacy: the properties of the whole are the same as its parts.

Example: a watch can keep time therefore a cog can keep time.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214862)

In a rigid machine sense, yes. However consider the old term: Holarchy [wikipedia.org] which are composed of holons [wikipedia.org] . In that view parts and wholes are simultaneously each other. Parts can have properties of wholes and wholes can operate roughly the same as their parts. The terms pre-dated Fractals [wikipedia.org] but do share quite a few similarities.

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215036)

So, since a boat floats, a screw floats?

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215178)

No: that's why it's a fallacy.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215454)

Only if it weighs less than a duck.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215556)

Or really tiny rocks.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215594)

She's a witch!

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215294)

Another analogy here is that you don't pimp life by owning one of its parts.

With the response nature of stimuli, you really do not know the order of the response. In other words, telep can give rise to the cog being able to tell time for the watch. If you have a one stasis with telep, it is the power that equally exists over both the telep source and the object at hand.

As this is posted, it seems like equality chaos.

Re:what is a living molecule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215368)

Another analogy here is that you don't pimp life by owning one of its parts.

Ahhh the pimp's life. Part of which are whores. which the pimp owns.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214852)

My car is metal. I drive my car. Therefore I can drive....

Waaiit, I think we might be missing something.

Re:what is a living molecule? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215498)

how is this flamebait? the guy's simply referring to the common conclusion of reductionism - there's no such thing as life as a separate category.

Re:what is a living molecule? (3, Funny)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215746)

Sure. Anything with nipples can live.

The Blob! (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215816)

This RNA seems to be replicating 'until it runs out of substrate', but they've started off with something already quite complex. The real question is can base elements and naturally occurring molecules/compounds spontaneously create RNA? All this study says is that we can run a motor without a car body around it and with it's fuel line just hanging in a pool of petrol.

Evolution is a Process. (5, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214776)

Evolution is a process, it applies equally well to many substrates. Organic molecules are one of the classes and many other phenomena can be described in evolutionary terms. If you go to an extreme you can say the all structures in our Universe are evolved with the loosest definition of Evolution as: "Change over time."

Re:Evolution is a Process. (3, Insightful)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214860)

I would not follow you to that extreme. For some substrate to evolve it has to be able to replicate itself, i.e. locally work against entropy. The following steps of mutation due to imperfect copies and selection are then simple or even self-evident. I wonder if you could call the process before that point a competition between non-replicating substrates to become the first one to replicate itself.

And if science finally manages to crack the abiogenesis nut there, I can still appease those of more religious conviction that a simple god has to build everything himself, but that awesome being you worship made the universe so that life and thus us just sprung from its ingenious rules.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214886)

Evolutionary principles have undeniably been implemented in computers. In those systems silicon is the ultimate substrate however they are a bit removed because the principles run in artificial realities.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215162)

Oh, substrate in that sense. Life on earth is not running on such an intermediate substrate, we are running on the "universe" itself.

What you think of is e.g. the idea of "Wang Carpets" from Diaspora (obscure SF reference). Those systems have to work against entropy in the first place, and then rules on top of that produce patterns that evolve. Same for in-silico evolution. Sure, it shows how evolution works, but they are in their own universe.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215308)

Read: This [baen.com] , you'll love it. It's from: Code of the Lifemaker [wikipedia.org] . That book takes evolutionary principles and applies it to machines that replicate imperfectly. After a process of a few million years humans meet these machines inadvertently. The substrate for these machines is absolutely not organic molecules yet they are in the logical sense undeniably alive.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (0)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215734)

The prologue reads promising, thanks, added to my next batch of books to order. On that note of satisfying a very peculiar science fiction taste, I have to find a site which uses individual book ratings and then uses something at least as complicated as a support vector machine to make useful recommendations...

And, at the risk of this becoming a nitpick about what substrate actually means: Yes, machines, organic molecules, energy conformations on the surface of stars, those certainly can evolve in the classic sense once they get going. I was jumping to conclusions when you mentioned simulated evolution in silicon systems, the id... oh I'm going to a special place in hell for quoting xkcd again: A Bunch of Rocks [xkcd.com] simulating something, that as a substrate is not just change over time. I though meant substrate as in like stardust colliding and then calculating a virtual world with evolution etc. as a byproduct.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215220)

The word "evolve" existed long before biological evolution was ever contemplated. It is, in fact, a synonym of "develop", and simply means "to achieve over time".

The universe, the solar system, cars, computers, and all the various business schemes we know and love today all evolved over the history of the universe.

Apply it to biology, and you have biological advancements that are achieved over time. That evolution has become associated with biology is a new evolution of language.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215352)

Meh, and malaria meant "bad air" once.

Once we are talking anything remotely related to Biology, where nothing makes sense except in the light of Evolution (to quote Theodosius Dobzhansky), it is grossly negligent to just use it in such a metaphysical context. This word has been appropriated by Darwin, and the newer "car design evolved"-like usages stem from an incorrect understanding of evolution and thus should cease to be used in such a fashion, it makes language less precise and in turn dilutes the public understanding of evolution even more.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (3, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215700)

Actually, if you read the definition of evolution, the use of evolution in biology fits perfectly, as does the use in describing the development of the car.

The word is still used in common language, and its meaning has not changed in any way. Your confusion of the word evolution as having to do solely with biology is unfortunate, but completely incorrect. Furthermore, I am reasonably certain that Darwin himself never used the term when referring to his theory on the origin of species.

Evolution means simply to "achieve over time" and is used equally correctly when referring to either the development of the automobile or to the development of life. As I said before, "evolve" is a synonym of "develop".

That you don't understand the words you use is not my fault nor anybody else's, excepting perhaps whatever school you were subjected to as a child. Look up the big word, read the definition, think about it for a couple of hours (I hope it really doesn't take that long), and perhaps you'll come away with a better understanding in the end.

Whether you are talking about biological evolution, industrial evolution, cosmological evolution, or any other evolution, you are talking about essentially the same thing. The processes involved and the driving forces behind each will obviously be worlds apart, but the concept is the same. Your "Evolution" is nothing more than shorthand for "Biological Evolution", and the sooner you figure that out the sooner your vocabulary will grow by one word.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214864)

More interestingly, something resembling the much tighter definition that applies to biology is also applicable to a fair few situations:

If you have a set of entities capable of some analog of reproduction(whether those be organisms, these catalyst molecules, or religions that spawn sects), a source of variation(whether it be genetic mutation, stochastic thermal buffeting in the test tube, or people dreaming up new rituals and scriptural interpretations), and some sort of selective pressure(whether it be predation and starvation, running out of substrate molecules, or a combination of competition for converts and outright violence), you can have an essentially "evolutionary" process in a manner quite similar to the biological one.

"Change over time" applies essentially universally; but is so much more limited that it is barely of interest. The surprisingly broad reach of nearly-biological evolution, with its interesting features, is quite notable, though.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

querent23 (1324277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214928)

Evolution in biology isn't just "change over time," but involves natural selection and fitness. Not just change, but change relative to a filter. I do get what you're saying though.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215074)

Technically, that's "evolution by selection", where nature or beings do the filtering (selecting). Evolution is a more general concept than evolution by selection, and evolution by natural selection is even more specific since it distinguishes itself from evolution by artificial selection, which is what human farm animal breeders do.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

querent23 (1324277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215134)

Makes sense. Good point! :)

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215258)

If you go to an extreme you can say the all structures in our Universe are evolved with the loosest definition of Evolution as: "Change over time."

Uh, that's not evolution. That's... change over time.

Evolution requires just three things: replication, random mutation, and a fitness function. That's basically it. But those pieces are absolutely *necessary* for any process to be considered an evolutionary process.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215290)

Ore more concisely: replication rate based on fitness, and imperfection.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215494)

So, you can easily say that evolution applies to our species as a whole, and I say we are evolving exponentially. I also say that the process of natural selection will take its toll on us in the years to come.

Re:Evolution is a Process. (1)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215608)

Evolution = "Change over time" ?!?!?!?!

I think you're confusing "evolution" with "entropy"...

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214780)

I'd say as long as they don't colour them grey, we should be safe. If they are grey, look out!

Interesting route... (2, Interesting)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31214800)

Working with the ribosome seems like as good an idea as any, but the research seems so restricted. The nutrient rich medium does run out, but they are not selecting for long term viability, they are only selecting for speed of replication.

Problems that this does not address are: how did metabolisms develop, and where did membranes come from? It seems that a membrane bound replicating body of this sort would fit all the requirements of rudimentary life.

Re:Interesting route... (2, Informative)

the biologist (1659443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215002)

a key point... ribozymes, not ribosomes. Ribozymes are ribonucleic acids with enzymatic activities. Ribosomes are what our kind of life uses to translate mRNA into peptide sequences.

Re:Interesting route... (2, Interesting)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215030)

Those problems may not be as great as they seem. DNA can be built from two corresponding RNA molecules. Once that stability is achieved, ribosomes [wikipedia.org] can "read" and "interpret" the proteins to build membranes, cell walls or more ribozymes and ribosomes (perhaps with some metabolic pathway changes).

Re:Interesting route... (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215078)

Membranes self assemble. See micelles [wikipedia.org] .

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214902)

biologists discover that thermodynamics and kinetics influence the outcomes of chemical reactions.

Origin of life is really quite simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31214908)

First you have:
1) Basic molecules that replicate themselves
2) Basic molecules that do not replicate

In the long run, guess what you have more...

Next step:
1) Basic molecules that replicate themselves
2) A tiny bit more complex molecules that are better in replicating themselves (or last longer in the environment)

In the long run, guess what you have more... repeat ad infinitum.

Re:Origin of life is really quite simple (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215284)

"In the long run, guess what you have more... repeat ad infinitum."

There're two unstated, let's say, imprecisions on your statement.

1) Where you say "molecules that replicate themselves" you should say "molecules that *imperfectly* replicate themselves"
2) Forget about "more complex". They don't need to be more complex, they just need to rise higher affinity to their environment (i.e.: "steal" other molecules more effectively).

The Blob (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215042)

What are the chanses of this thing growing and growing and......ohh dear my sink is clogged

Re:The Blob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215672)

Mod this fucker DONW!!!

That's the AC shilling for the garbage disposal manufacturers' association.

No (4, Funny)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215104)

It can't be true since God didn't make it. Obviously :)

God who is not God. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215230)

The older I get the more I wonder about the relationships in our Universe. Now, it may just be cognitive cob-webs but who is to actually say that God is not waiting for us beyond the last theorem? Physics is not complete yet so isn't it hubris to proclaim that there is no God without a complete understanding of where our Universe came from? I am finding it more difficult to remain an atheist to the point that I have become an igtheist [wikipedia.org] as I have gained more life experience. Just because most of what the world pushes on you as the concept of "God" is complete crap does not mean that "God" does not exist. The definition is where the meat lies. Perhaps someday physics will be complete assuming the incompletness theorem doesn't prevent that and we will know for sure. Until then, don't be so cock-eyed and smug in your "logical" denial.

Re:God who is not God. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215394)

The older I get the more I wonder about the relationships in our Universe. Now, it may just be cognitive cob-webs but who is to actually say that God is not waiting for us beyond the last theorem? Physics is not complete yet so isn't it hubris to proclaim that there is no God without a complete understanding of where our Universe came from? I am finding it more difficult to remain an atheist to the point that I have become an igtheist [wikipedia.org] as I have gained more life experience. Just because most of what the world pushes on you as the concept of "God" is complete crap does not mean that "God" does not exist. The definition is where the meat lies. Perhaps someday physics will be complete assuming the incompletness theorem doesn't prevent that and we will know for sure. Until then, don't be so cock-eyed and smug in your "logical" denial.

The older you get, the more you are concerned with what the next stage is. Just like after childhood there is adolescence, and after adolescence there is adulthood, you are at or approaching old age and it is difficult for you to accept that the next stage cannot be proven to be anything than your physical end. It's understandable that you want to explore if a God exists just as a student who hasn't studied for a test wants desperately to find a loophole in a test or even a glimmer of a hint of hope.

However, you yourself seem to have adopted the "true-false" model of comparative religions. You want to say that igtheist is a justifiable stance and atheism is not. It's very ironic that you then turn around and tell others to not be so smug about their positions.

Re:God who is not God. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215492)

I vigorously disagree. I do believe in ignosticism. The vast majority of issues relating to religion need to put aside until a definition of God is proposed to test. In a pantheistic view, well God is the Universe and we are but figments in it's imagination. You miss the issue of an incomplete physics. Until physics is complete, if ever, then the true existence of whether or not there is a God is undefined - neither true nor false - because without knowing exactly the origin of our Universe all explanations are "it's turtles all the way down." No matter the language they are dressed up in.

Re:God who is not God. (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215596)

Ill admit you have at least seemed to put some thought into this, which deserves respect....

However, why is it the world of Physics which will be able to, or not, tell you the definition of god? Why not music theory, why not philosophy, why not war? What is so important about Physics in particular that you think it will be able to one day 'answer' what god is?

What you seem to be doing, from an outside perspective, is wanting there to be a god, but are too uncertain in what you believe to form an opinion. For in the end, thats all it really is, just an opinion of how we as humans view the world. Its not right or wrong, its an observation that helps us to make sense of the world we interact with.

You also presuppose quite a few things as well, without the 'proof' you are requiring for the definition of god. Why presuppose the universe was 'created', why presuppose that Physics is the only true path to being able to make the definition of god that you currently admit is an 'empty set'.

If I write the word 'abseciturtizerits' but then say that its undefined until some point in the future when it can be fully understood, does that make much sense? Or does it make more sense that its simply a thought construct you(human beings) came up with and would like to find out after creating it out of mere belief, what it is?

You want to explain it, because thats what your brain does. It needs to explain things in order for those ideas to be useful, or not, to your existence. This fits in nicely with your admitted stance that the longer you live, the more you think about it and its meaning.

Drop the presuppositions, drop the need to explain the unexplainable, and things may make more sense.

Re:God who is not God. (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215754)

I'm a Christian. My view of it is that the answer to whether God exists or doesn't exist can't be found. God is unknowable.
Physics, mathematics, philosophy - these explain the mechanics of the universe, but they can't explain it's purpose.

Re:God who is not God. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215850)

There is no god. Life is an accident. There is no grand unified purpose of everything or anything. Shit is just the way it is and we have to make the best of it before we fade into the eternal void. Yes, I know it's depressing.

Prepare for the next painful years of your life dying your hair black, listening to My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park, wallowing aimlessly in existentialist anxiety until you give up on life and become a nihilistic professional troll.

Re:God who is not God. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215540)

I have become an igtheist [wikipedia.org]

A far more reasonable position than atheism IMO.

Re:God who is not God. (1)

johanatan (1159309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215580)

Two thoughts-- 1) The incompleteness theorem will definitely prevent physics and every other science from being 'complete'. and 2) even if it did not, what does a complete knowledge of physics say about metaphysical questions? In other words-- there are simply some questions that materialism will never answer (even without bringing the Incompleteness theorem into it).

Re:No (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215410)

It can't be true since God didn't make it. Obviously :)

God did make it. It's just that to these new critters, God is a giant pink two-eyed thing in a long silly white coat.
   

Re:No (0)

gothzilla (676407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215844)

It is impossible to use God's creations to prove that He doesn't exist. When science contradicts our "beliefs" then our beliefs must change. This is where most anti-science Christians fall apart. The mechanics God used to create everything are pretty irrelevant. They're fascinating, sure, but one doesn't need to understand this article to get to heaven.

God made us in His image, but what image is that? His physical image? His spiritual one? If he meant in His spiritual image then evolution and all this science ceases to contradict scripture. Adam and Eve could have just been the first two to receive souls.

The purpose of the religion is to give us guidelines to be good people, love one another, and help others in need but too many of my fellow Christians seem to forget that and get hung up on their "beliefs" being contradicted by science.

Pride is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason.

Immortality means no evolution (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215166)

They have nice things there... replication, making not perfect copies, but what they dont have is death. And death is a critical for evolving... without it, you will consume all consummable resources, and when that happens no more copies will be possible. At least until some molecule turns into predator and eats those supposed "immortal" molecules.

Re:Immortality means no evolution (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215328)

"death is a critical for evolving... without it, you will consume all consummable resources, and when that happens no more copies will be possible."

That happens all the time and it's called ecological microsucesion. On a complex environment, when a colonizator consumes all its share, it disappears and its very detritus is the basis for the next colonizing wave (cow shits and death trees are the two paradigmatic examples). On the starting point you either are lucky enough that some deviation from the original model happens to take profit on the changed environment or life just stops. We don't know how many times it happened (or even if it happened) prior to the first "lucky" event.

Re:Immortality means no evolution (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215576)

You're making a false dichotomy between "resources" and energy, which are at a certain level equivalent. An "immortal" molecule could still be alive, and even evolve (change), without consuming any new resources, but only energy.

Mars, Life, and Really Small Shit (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215202)

The "Alan Hills" Mars meteorite has triggered interest in a type of bacteria temporarily coined "nanobacteria". The alleged bacterial fossils in the meteorite have been criticized as too small to be bacteria.

Since then the search for earthly equivalents has taken off. Some of the candidates appear to be either non-living, or on the borderline, including curious objects found in human blood.

And it tickles the question of how small a bacterium can get and still be "alive". It's too new of a field to make any definitive conclusions, but does show the value of exploring outer space. It makes us ask questions and explore areas we might otherwise ignore.

(Although the meteorite did not come from a space mission, it's recognition as being from Mars is based on data from the two Viking landers of the 1970's.)

only one step of a great many (5, Informative)

rritterson (588983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215206)

For those current in the field, this discovery is not surprising. Several people have created synthetic ribozymes [wikipedia.org] already, most doing some trivial and superfluous task. It was only a matter of time until someone created a self-replicating ribozyme. Yet, they do serve as basic evidence that the RNA-world hypothesis [wikipedia.org] may be correct.

However, a soup of replicating molecules is still a far cry from life, and, indeed, there are many more complicated features of life as we know it, even at the most basic level, for which there is no creation hypothesis. We know that membranes can self-assemble into micelles, and one key component of all life is a membrane layer to separate the living environment from the surroundings. However, if, by chance, a micelle happened to self-assemble around a ribozyme, how does the ribozyme continue to function, now that it has no ready source of diffusing ribonucleotides (the building block of RNA)?

Second, how did the first micelles replicate? Did they simply continue to grow as more membrane molecules spontaneously add to them until they broke apart into two? Perhaps life arose in some sort of thermally-cycling environment and the micelles broke apart at high temperture, releasing the contents, and then reformed again, with new randomized contents when the temperature cooled.

Third, how did we transition from RNA contents with lipid membranes into the vastly richer information of the amino acid world? Is there a reductionist "alphabet" for amino acids that may have served as the starting point, from which the extra amino acids were added slowly. Is our alphabet 'optimal' (virtually all life uses the same 20-acid alphabet, which minor variations of 1 or 2 in extreme organisms)? Or perhaps the alphabet only evolved once, and thus had no competition and could be completely far from optimal.

As you can see, there are a number of interesting questions to be explored. We have, however, gone from not knowing how the basic components of cells (proteins, DNA, lipids) functioned, to knowing that DNA encodes the 'heritable' information, to its structure, to the Miller-Urey experiment [wikipedia.org] , and now on to knowing immense details about the complicated protein functional networks within cells, and between cells as well creating synthetic molecules that can evolve via natural selection, all in the span of just more than a century. It's going to be extremely fun to see what we know by the end of the 21st century. Right now we feel like we know all of the basics and just have to work on the hard stuff. I will bet dollars to donuts that we have a lot to learn, and, by 2100, several discoveries will have been made that future people will wonder how we ever thought we knew anything without.

Re:only one step of a great many (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215706)

I have a question. You seem like you might know the answer. Do 'naturally occurring ribozymes' mean that they can arise from chemical reactions not involved with living organisms? Or are they natural in contrast with Artificial ribozymes [wikipedia.org]

Zombie Apocalypse Begins... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31215278)

"They're just molecules, so they do what they do until they run out of substrate. And this will go for ever it's an immortal molecule, if you like, he told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here in San Diego."

Later in the evening working alone, Dr DeSilva accidentally cut himself with an x-acto contaminated by his cultures. The RNA slowly overtook his own cellular composition, "blindly finding solutions that made them more successful". Ironically, he had unknowingly predicted his own end, "They do what they do until they run out of substrate". He (the self-replicating RNA by this time) was later to discover the best substrate was brainz...

And so the zombie apocalypse begins...

Sounds like... (2, Funny)

mim (535591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215288)

"The team then extracted a random subset, and put them in a new medium: ribozymes then competed with each other to consume as much of the medium as possible." Sounds like my ex-boyfriend & his beer buddies.

But they still remain molecules (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215676)

It does not contradict the Bible at all. After all the evilution, they still remain the molecule kind.

Here is some more info (5, Informative)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 4 years ago | (#31215802)

I found this looking for more information. A good primer of what they are doing. Joyce Lab News 1 [scripps.edu]
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