EVOLUTION: Re: Extropianism & Theology

Harvey Newstrom (newstrom@newstaffinc.com)
Mon, 1 Mar 1999 02:46:26 -0500

> It appears as if ASpidle complained to Tim:
> |Whoa there Tim. There isn't
> |enough time since the beginning of the Universe to get from blue green algae
> |to amoebas, much less to people if natural selection from random mutations is
> |the only mechanism.

This is a common claim, that random evolution won't produce complex organisms very fast. It seems like a million monkeys typing on keyboards which will never turn out the works of Shakespear. Most people don't realize how easily things can get organized at the molecular level.

One example I like to cite is crystal growth. Image a lot of little crystal cubes bouncing around in a liquid solution. The randomly bounce, they randomly stick together, they randomly break apart. What are the chances that they will grow a large cubic crystal structure instead of a random shaped lump? Very high. It actually is statistically more likely to result in a large cubic structure than any random shape.

Why? If two cubes touch corners, they are only stuck together at one point. A small amount of vibration will knock them loose. If two cubes touch edges, they are stuck together along an entire line. It takes more force to knock them loose. If two cubes touch sides, they are stuck together by whatever area overlap. The more area that overlaps, the more force it takes to break them apart. Here's the clencher: The strongest bond possible, and the most overlap possible, is when the cubes are perfectly aligned, and their square sides are 100% in line with the cube next to them. Cubes that are out of line or rotated at a different angle than the cubes next to them cannot achieve a 100% bond.

When these cubes bounce around, they randomly touch, stick, vibrate, and unstick. The closer the cubes line up perfectly, the stronger the bond is, and the less likely they are to come unstuck. Cubes that are lined up tend to stay lined up. Cubes that are out of line tend to become unstuck and bounce around.

Statistically speaking, these cubes are more likely to line up in rows and columns, than in random piles. They are more likely to form larger cubic structures than any other shape. The bottom line is, they aren't randomly thrown together. The laws of the universe promote order and regularity. Given random evolution, little cubic crystals will evolve into larger and more complex cubic structures. This is like water flowing down hill. It's not a miraculous inexplicable event. It is the nature result of random evolution, which prefers organization over chaos.

Harvey Newstrom <http://newstaffinc.com>
Author, Consultant, Engineer, Hacker, Researcher, Scientist.