Originally Posted By: Orac
WOW now things don't die and countless other stupidity I don't know where to begin. No wonder we refer to biological science with derogatory terms

Insults are expected from some quarters. The biosciences are the darling child of modern scientific research - about 80% of all public science funding goes to it. Given the current funding environment , it is of no surprize that some of the more weak-minded in the low-budget side of things will fall back on inanities like insults to cover up their own inadequacies.

Of course, others join the winning team - like the two physicists I collaborate with...

Originally Posted By: Orac
I did get a good laugh at the rigorous testing perhaps you could tell me the current sigma confidence level you have on evolution?

Depends on which part of the theory you are asking about. The process of evolution is a observed phenomena; ergo its probability is 1.0 without variation - or infinite sigma if you want to measure with SD's.

Multi-loci dendrograms (hereditary trees indicating the evolutionary relationship between organisms) are built using bootstrap algorithms, typically using a 3-sigma cutoff for significance. Because we use use concurrence between multiple algorithms to build trees, final sigmas are the range of 6 to 9, which is better than certainty of the Higgs boson.

Selection, drift, etc, are quantified using genetic algorithms, using cutoffs of 0.95 or 0.01 (2-3 sigma), but that - of course - indicates the minimal degree of certainty.

Originally Posted By: Orac
I accept evolution and I found that comical I can only imagine what a creationist like Paul would make of it smile

So you find your own ignorance comical...interesting.

Originally Posted By: Orac
Perhaps lets start with Ilya Prigogine and his 1977 Nobel prize perhaps you would like to explain how you know better than everyone else in science and how his work has been overturned.

I fail to see anything that I wrote which disagrees with his work; indeed, his work is critical to understanding emergent properties - a very process which would be entropically impossible if your interpretation were correct (i.e. that more complex structures are more prone to entropy; the exact opposite of what Prigogine showed with his work on dissipative structures).

I'm guessing this is another attempt by you to support your claims by throwing out random bits of science you hope we are not familiar with - like your claims about QM & entropy. Sorry, that doesn't work. I'm quite familiar with the science behind emergent systems, and indeed, use it frequently in my own research...but we'll come back to that later.

Originally Posted By: Orac
The argument I gave you above is pretty much stock standard his in that there are irrevesible processes such as radioactive decay that put living organisms a hell of a long way from equilibrium.

Actually, your argument is non-stock, as most wouldn't be silly enough to make it. The biological burden of radiodecay is well known - and it is very, very, very small. The impact of radiodecay is a factor of a) the relative abundance of stable vs non-stable isotopes in an organism, and b) the frequency of which these isotopes decay (i.e. their half-life).

Abundance is where your argument meets its first death - naturally occurring radioisotopes of the common atoms in living organisms are exceedingly rare - indeed, C14 is the only one normally found in organisms. The half-lives of tritium, P32, etc, ensure that they are not found in the environment above trace a amounts. In living organisms, C14 amounts to ~1 in every trillion carbon atoms. Ergo, even if all the C14 spontaneously decayed, the impact would be minimal.

For example, the 6 billion nucleotides that comprise the DNA content of a single human cell contain ~60 billion carbons (there is ~10 carbons per DNA base). Meaning, if every C14 spontaneously decayed, you'd introduce damage to a single nucleotide in 1 in every 17 cells. In comparison, DNA replication errors will introduce 200-300 every cell division.

Your argument is already dead, but it dies a second death. Not only is the abundance of radioisotopes too low too incur a meaningful fitness burden, but the half-lives of those which get incorporated into our bodies is sufficiently long enough to ensure that the burden is effectively zero. Since C14 is the only one with measurable abundance, lets continue with it. C14 has a half-life of 5,730 years. A basic half-life calculation tells us that over a 100-year lifespan (I'm being generous), 1.202% of the C14 will decay. Meaning that over a 100 year lifetime, radiodecay of C14 will damage one nucleotide in one in every 141 cells.

That is a meaningless burden, relative to damage from other sources.

Originally Posted By: Orac
So perhaps you would like to start with explaining how you are overturning Ilya's work on the equilibrium of life.

I'm not - just as you were wrong about what QM says about entropy in systems, you are also wrong about the implications of Prigogine's work. His work shows the exact, polar opposite of what you claim.

Prigogine built on the work of von Forester, who showed that a dynamic system dominated by noise system can encounter what he called an attractor - a set of conditions which are more stable than the other random states the system can occupy. von Foresters models were limited in that they dealt with closed systems; Prigogine extended these works to show that in open systems the influx of new material/energy and the loss of heat (entropy) would allow these attractors to grow, thus forming a stable state well away from thermodynamic equilibrium.

The key in that work vis-a-vis life is simple - the state in disequilibrium is *stable* so long as it maintains an open thermodynamic environment. The degree of complexity does not determine the stability (aka, your claim), but rather, the ability to exchange energy & matter with the surrounding environment is what determines the stability. Ergo, more complex organisms are not more unstable simply due to their complexity; rather, their stability is determined by other factors.