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Scientists Discover Proteins Controlling Evolution

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.

Biotech 436

Khemisty writes "Evolutionary changes are supposed to take place gradually and randomly, under pressure from natural selection. But a team of Princeton scientists investigating a group of proteins that help cells burn energy stumbled across evidence that this is not how evolution works. In fact, their discovery could revolutionize the way we understand evolutionary processes. They have evidence that organisms actually have the ability to control their own evolution."

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So here's the question ... (5, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#25742411)

can the human race auto-evolve itself larger penises?

Re:So here's the question ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742427)

I can see the spam now...

And for now, only one time deal! You get BIG for LITTLE. Mircale drug for REAL results. Of this you can be. HAh. Hahhh.

Re:So here's the question ... (5, Funny)

kandela (835710) | about 6 years ago | (#25742501)

The article says the proteins were correcting any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations, constantly restoring the chain to working order. If this is true I do not expect to see larger penises as the result. In fact, given the brain-penis balance displayed by your post the proteins should be working to reduce your penis size.

Re:So here's the question ... (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#25742565)

The article says the proteins were correcting any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations, constantly restoring the chain to working order. If this is true I do not expect to see larger penises as the result. In fact, given the brain-penis balance displayed by your post the proteins should be working to reduce your penis size.

Ouch.

Re:So here's the question ... (2, Informative)

slashnot007 (576103) | about 6 years ago | (#25742841)

The article says the proteins were correcting any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations, constantly restoring the chain to working order. If this is true I do not expect to see larger penises as the result. In fact, given the brain-penis balance displayed by your post the proteins should be working to reduce your penis size.

While your post is humorous, the funny thing is the original poster had a point. If the only thing keeping my penis small is a feedback loop, then it should not be too hard to create a drug that interrupts that feedback loop. The downside of course is that still does not create the desired mutation in me. Nor even in my children since eggs are all created at a young age.

Re:So here's the question ... (4, Funny)

kandela (835710) | about 6 years ago | (#25742901)

Nor even in my children since eggs are all created at a young age.

If you are looking at increasing your penis size I'm guessing you are male. So I don't see what eggs have to do with it.

Re:So here's the question ... (5, Funny)

adamchou (993073) | about 6 years ago | (#25742911)

If the only thing keeping my penis small is a feedback loop

just a tip, you might want to check the box "Post Anonymously" next time you want to post some damning information about yourself.

Re:So here's the question ... (5, Funny)

I7D (682601) | about 6 years ago | (#25743173)

'just a tip' is right.

Re:So here's the question ... (1)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#25742597)

We already have the largest genitals of any primate. (Not to mention some humans have a second one sitting on their shoulders). Just how big did you want it to be? Besides anything that's not used to penetrate is wasted and in the way.

Re:So here's the question ... (1)

Swizec (978239) | about 6 years ago | (#25742731)

Besides anything that's not used to penetrate is wasted and in the way.

Oh who cares about length anymore! That's so old school, just give me more thickness!

Re:So here's the question ... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | about 6 years ago | (#25742921)

That's so old school, just give me more thickness!

I think the word you are looking for is girth [reference.com]

Re:So here's the question ... (2, Funny)

Justabit (651314) | about 6 years ago | (#25743283)

The classic joke goes..

The man gets a call from a telemarketer promising to make his penis up to 9 iches using their revolutionary new technique.

so he says "I don't care how good your technique is, your not removing 3 inches from MY penis"! *crickets*

Hello?

Is this thing on?

Re:So here's the question ... (1)

passion (84900) | about 6 years ago | (#25743009)

Only if the men with short ones fail to reproduce, so this would be up to the ladies to decide this.

FART. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743203)

OMG I JUST FARTED

So... (4, Insightful)

BerntB (584621) | about 6 years ago | (#25742429)

Life has evolved to be good at evolving? Sounds logical, organisms that increase mutation speed depending on environment should have an advantage.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#25742473)

As I understand it, this is just another way for changes to occur. We already know how miniscule molecules of DNA effect large-scale changes on an organism.. apparently this is just a series of proteins that can mutate somewhat nondestructively to change the organism.

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 6 years ago | (#25742589)

Reading the article, my guess is that this is a lot of nonsense that is going to leave the authors with red faces.

"What they are saying is that evolution is not entirely random, as Darwin believed"

WTF?? Darwin was the one that explained the process FFS! This more than anything shows that the authors have no idea what they are talking about. Expect to see it in the next Discovery Institute press release.

Re:So... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#25742653)

Yeah "Darwin was wrong, with modern science and our -ahem- quite brilliant intellects, we have invented a superior theory" is a bit sensational.

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742709)

"What they are saying is that evolution is not entirely random, as Darwin believed"

I agree, that is a ridiculous quote. Evolution involves mutation (which is random) and nature testing the viability of that mutation (which is not random). Obviously stronger, fitter, faster tends to be preferable, and death tends not to be, and this isn't random.

Re:So... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#25742561)

The human race had won / fought several big battles in the last century that we should be right at the point of evolving into the next level.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 6 years ago | (#25743071)

So what you're saying is that we have enough XP to level up?

Plz stop upmodding me :-) (2)

BerntB (584621) | about 6 years ago | (#25742603)

Mod up this [slashdot.org] instead. Much more interesting.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743171)

"Life has evolved to be good at evolving? "

It's no longer evolving, it's self engineering.

AHA! (5, Funny)

naz404 (1282810) | about 6 years ago | (#25742433)

Intelligent design!!! This proves it! Mice have been behind everything all along!

Re:AHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742571)

That's it, a science article whose summary contains the words "evolution" and "not". Time to undust my trusty old Bible.

Re:AHA! (3, Funny)

teh moges (875080) | about 6 years ago | (#25742985)

I can see it now: "New theory proposed that explains evidence on evolution better than old theory. Therefore, evolution is wrong"

Re:AHA! (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 6 years ago | (#25743059)

Intelligent design!!!

This proves it! Mice have been behind everything all along!

Narf!

Homeostasis (5, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | about 6 years ago | (#25742437)

RTFA and you'll see that the Princeton boys have discovered homeostasis [wikipedia.org] in gene expression. The hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding their discovery would be more justified if they had actually found something that altered the haploid genetic information of gametes in a homeostatic fashion. And they're insulting to Darwin when they say that he thought that evolution was "totally random". That's like the argument some of the more idiotic creationists make when they talk about taking a bunch of watch parts, shaking them up in a bag and assembling a watch.

I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 6 years ago | (#25742567)

From TFA:

"The discovery answers an age-old question that has puzzled biologists since the time of Darwin: How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if evolution is completely random, operating like a 'blind watchmaker'?" said Chakrabarti, an associate research scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton.

No, it was never "completely random".

The changes MUST result in a viable individual.

Stillbirths and miscarriages do NOT contribute mutations to the gene pool.

Please tell me that he was quoted incorrectly.

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (4, Funny)

holloway (46404) | about 6 years ago | (#25742769)

The changes MUST result in a viable individual.

Exactly, which is why Crocoducks [freethoughtpedia.com] roam our streets, eating bananas [youtube.com] dipped in peanut butter [youtube.com] made by witches [youtube.com] and ergo God is a white guy in white robes with gold piping.

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743131)

Aha! But you forgot one thing, my friend!

THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743191)

But.. but I wasn't expecting the Spanish inquisition!

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (1)

do_kev (1086225) | about 6 years ago | (#25742941)

Our standard view of evolution can be interpreted in two different ways: mutations, which are random, and natural selection, which is not.

No biologist worth his salt would ever claim that natural selection was random, so it seems reasonable to infer that he was talking about mutations, which -are- random. Put in this light, the sentence makes sense: How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if [the mutations that have come to produce them are] completely random, operating like a 'blind watchmaker?'

Let's not jump the gun and assume that this biologist knows less about biology than we do...

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#25743277)

The whole concept does sort of make sense. At a minimum, it seems clear that organisms have at least some limited ability to control their own gene expression. Were that not the case, we wouldn't have all these animals that suddenly begin to express male genes or female genes when the populations are too heavily weighted towards one gender (many slugs) or animals whose ovaries can produce eggs with a full set of chromosomes in the absence of males (whales) or....

So there's clearly some sort of feedback cycle that is controlled in some way, whether neurologically, hormonally, etc. that has an impact on gene expression. (Also, with the number of junk genes we have, changes in gene expression could have a pretty significant impact on the traits of an organism and its offspring even without taking mutation into account....)

It would not be that much of a stretch, then, to believe that a similar mechanism could allow an organism to control whether damaged genes are repaired or are allowed to remain (and potentially be expressed at some point).

Re:I'm still hoping that he was quoted wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743069)

What he meant was that the mechanism behind evolution (mutations) is essentially random. Stop getting your panties in a twist because you read things too literally.

Re:Homeostasis (2, Interesting)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | about 6 years ago | (#25742609)

Uhhhhh huh. Yeah dude. Whatever. So, you're basically saying that whatever we find, uh, evolution, like, TOTALLY predicted it. If we find cases of evolution working like Darwin originally predicted, hey, that's proof. If we find the opposite, like the scientists just did, that's proof too! Everything's proof!

All that shows is that "evolution" is like "phlogiston" and "elan vital" and "emergence". They can explain everything, so they explain nothing.

Lessons to take away:

1) Explaining events is easy. The hard part is to not explain non-events.
2) The whole pretense of "separation of church and school" is a lie. We have the church in our schools *right this second*. All we did was replace the Pope's prayerbook with Charles Darwin's.

I could do better scientific work that the mainstream evolution fanatics by reading a Bible. And have.

Re:Homeostasis (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 6 years ago | (#25742647)

I salute your dedication and commitment to the trolling cause. Long live the replies!

Re:Homeostasis (1)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | about 6 years ago | (#25743325)

STFU and take your phail with you. Show me one single example of when i've trolled. Just one. ONE. That's all I'm asking.

You can't do it. You can't do it BECAUSE I'M NOT A FUCKING TROLL YOU MORON.

Why are some people such dicks?

Re:Homeostasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742661)

It's not even an FA. It's a press release. The article (published in Phys Rev Let, not a journal read by biologists), appears not to yet be available.

The press release is badly written and appears to be greatly overstating the significance of their discovery.

Sturgeon's law applies here.

Cold fusion of the biology world (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | about 6 years ago | (#25742881)

Maybe I'm missing something, but strip away all the hyperbole about this being news and to me all they've (re)discovered is that evolution tends to be smarter and more imaginative than mathematicians at solving control theory problems.

An imbalance caused by a mutation would be functionally similar to an imbalance of chemicals in the creature's environment, so I would expect systems that have evolved to be adaptable in the face of variable chemical inputs, as a side effect would tend to be resistant to mutations in the proteins in the chain. Faced with real-world chemistry, most mutated chains would still likely be vulnerable to rare/harsh conditions in the environment.

Contradiction (2, Interesting)

xdor (1218206) | about 6 years ago | (#25743033)

From TFA:

"[...] concluding that it would be statistically impossible for this self-correcting behavior to be random [...]"

So these so-called "evolutionary mechanics" are found to exhibit a trait we describe with engineering metaphors.

But the article discounts the obvious indications of design by a inventing a self-refuting new term "evolutionary control".
Evolutionary products being "self-correcting" implies two things:

  1. The mutation rates scientists depend on for life to appear in relative short order must now be extended to account for corrective actions repressing mutation
  2. Feedback mechanisms are directing respective proteins' development; it knows what its suppose to be

Re:Homeostasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743109)

Please for the love of god do not use scientific words when they have completely simple counter parts. Here let me give you an example of what happened at work 2 weeks ago:

Jason the web guy: So we just finished implementing an ajax based frontend to the MVC framework utilizing ruby and its all using blah blah blah.

Me: so you used javascript and ruby on rails...

Re:Homeostasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743235)

And none of those words are scientific. They're jargon - computer nerd jargon. Scientific terms have their place and should be used accurately. You're just commenting about the bullshit that people say to try to SOUND scientific.

Re:Homeostasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743149)

Dude, nobody's insulting your precious Darwin here....Science is about discovery. Sometimes that's discovering that you didn't know everything you thought you did.

Uummmmmm, no. (5, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about 6 years ago | (#25742439)

This was found in the electron transport chain, which occurs in the mitochondria, which have their own DNA [wikipedia.org] (circular DNA to be precise). The cell is repairing damaged DNA, the cell does this naturally. It is a defense mechanism and does not signal that the cell is actively controlling its evolution. This correction of the damage will NOT be passed on to the next generation of offspring unless it occurs in the egg or sperm cells (and if it is the mitochondria the sperm cells will also have nothing to do with it as all our mitochondria are inherited by our mother's egg cells). This seems to me to be a headline grabber with little to no actual relevance to the research within.

Re:Uummmmmm, no. (2, Interesting)

S77IM (1371931) | about 6 years ago | (#25742763)

Mitochondrial DNA has been found to mutate at a much faster rate than nuclear DNA. Wouldn't seem to contradict the researcher's findings that the DNA was resistant to changes? Or, does the supposed self-correction mechanism explain how the mitochondrial DNA can mutate so much without everyone dying of mitochondrial disorders all the time?

Re:Uummmmmm, no. (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 6 years ago | (#25742837)

WHy I am not surprised.

Re:Uummmmmm, no. (1)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#25742973)

This seems to me to be a headline grabber with little to no actual relevance to the research within.

I gotta agree with you here, the title seems more fluff than anything. Mitochondrial DNA is highly conserved, not to say that they didn't discover a mechanism behind its conservation, but the way I see it, this doesn't appear to redefine what evolution is. DNA has several ways of correcting mutations, this almost sounds analogous to me.

Big duh (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 6 years ago | (#25742441)


How else do you think we were able to evolve this far in just 6,000 years? It wasn't that long ago that the only humans were a gullible man and a rib-woman!

Re:Big duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742547)

talk about being a total troll. keep your bigotry to yourself.

Re:Big duh (0, Flamebait)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#25742579)

talk about being a total troll. keep your bigotry to yourself.

Nah ... Creationists are fair game here on Slashdot. Matter of fact, they're fair game, period.

Re:Big duh (3, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | about 6 years ago | (#25742737)

talk about being a total troll. keep your bigotry to yourself.

Nah ... Creationists are fair game here on Slashdot. Matter of fact, they're fair game, period.

If so, you should probably get it right. Not all creationist think that the earth is 6,000 years old. For that matter, very few do. Just like all stereotypes, what very few do gets the entire group labeled.

Some creationists believe that evolution happened, but is way to complicated to have happened by chance. They point to the idea that 6 billion years is not nearly enough time for earth to form, start life and have it evolve randomly into the many creatures that are living currently, and the many more that are extinct.

Anyway, the fact that you and the GP lump all creationists together into your worst stereotype of what they can be tells me you are no different than the rednecks that think all (your racial group here) steal, or are lazy/greasy/dirty.

Re:Big duh (5, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 6 years ago | (#25742955)

If so, you should probably get it right. Not all creationist think that the earth is 6,000 years old. For that matter, very few do. Just like all stereotypes, what very few do gets the entire group labeled.

But the earth being 6000 years old is a possible conclusion of creationism. That's why it attracts ridicule as a theory. If it leads you down that road, it just might be the road that's silly, not just the house at the end of the road that says "6000 years and not one day more."

FWIW, creationism could still be exactly true and it still would never be science. It makes no predictions, and is not falsifiable. [wikipedia.org] It may be a theory, but it's not a scientific theory. A scientific theory has certain criteria that creationism does not meet.

And that is why it attracts scorn here. This is a place for science-types. You'd probably have better luck on some board devoted to theology rather than Slashdot.

It's not racism or bigotry. It's exasperation with people who believe in creationism and insist it be taught alongside other scientific theories, even though it simply doesn't belong there.

Re:Big duh (3, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | about 6 years ago | (#25743167)

And that is why it attracts scorn here. This is a place for science-types.

I don't think that's the main reason it attracts scorn. The main reason is simply because most here would not think Creationism, or any of the variants are true at all.

Re:Big duh (1)

Estanislao Martínez (203477) | about 6 years ago | (#25743175)

But the earth being 6000 years old is a possible conclusion of creationism. That's why it attracts ridicule as a theory. If it leads you down that road, it just might be the road that's silly, not just the house at the end of the road that says "6000 years and not one day more."

Um, you're doing exactly what GP objects to: you're taking a minority view among creationists (the idea that the Old Testament literally tells us the age of the Earth), and judging all of them by that standard. The claim that life is the result of divine design does not entail the claim that the Old Testament tells us a literal creation story, period.

FWIW, creationism could still be exactly true and it still would never be science. It makes no predictions, and is not falsifiable. It may be a theory, but it's not a scientific theory. A scientific theory has certain criteria that creationism does not meet.

Falsifiability fails as a demarcation criterion for science. I agree with you that creationism isn't a scientific theory, but your argument sucks, and you shouldn't be making it. (And, BTW, read your own fricking link.)

And that is why it attracts scorn here. This is a place for science-types. You'd probably have better luck on some board devoted to theology rather than Slashdot.

As a fellow non-creationist, let me tell you two things: (a) you supposed "science-types" make a really bad showing of yourselves, (b) actual theologists, on the aggregate, don't spend a lot of time on creationism, so don't tar them with the brush that you tar creationists. (Which, incidentally, means you're doing to theologists exactly the same thing that GP complained is done to creationists.)

Anyway, what's commonly referred to as "creationism" these days has two main ingredients:

  1. Strong skepticism about claims of evolutionary biologists, specially claims that are intended to apply over a long time scale (e.g., claims that people and apes have a common ancestor).
  2. A political and cultural agenda to have a certain religious cosmology promoted by the state, by controlling what the state teaches children as "science."

The first of these ingredients is perfectly scientific, taken on its own. The second one is the nasty one. So of course, creationists spend all their time playing up the first one, and distracting us from the second one. And you "science-types," instead of focusing on the political agendas, just love to sit down and play into their hands by going on and on about scientific and philosophical topics you don't quite understand. With the effect that you'll just get eaten for lunch by any creationist who just happens to be smarter than you, better educated on these topics, and more eloquent.

Don't play their game. Just tell them that the scientific merits of theories, and therefore, the content of science courses, should be decided by the scientific community, period. Even if the scientific community is wrong, science is what the community says it is, and if we are going to teach biology to children, then the actual truth or falsity of evolutionary theory isn't even relevant. What matters is if we're teaching biology correctly--and creationists basically want biology to be taught incorrectly.

Re:Big duh (2, Insightful)

tommy_servo (84979) | about 6 years ago | (#25743295)

Your only problem is you *assume* laws of logic while attacking the only worldview in which laws of logic make sense. You see you are first assuming the Christian Theistic Worldview, attacking it, and then retreating back into your materialistic worldview which doesn't comport with laws of logic.

For example, may I ask: given your axioms, your givens, your presuppositions of the universe...does there exist anything non-material? Can abstract entities like "laws" of thought exist given your worldview?

You may answer, "well laws of logic are just conventions of thought, agreed upon by men." If that's the case--we could all just adopt our own conventional system of logic. You'd see logical societies with their own rules, etc. I could say, "I adopt the convention of logic that says Theism is true, and so I win."

This is absurd. No one believes that logic is a convention, nor do they treat it as such.

You could say, "Well, you assume logic, too, so nyah nyah nyah." Which is true, I do assume laws of logic exist. Except **they make sense within my Christian Theistic Worldview.**

My worldview allows for abstract, universal absolute like laws of logic. The Christian Theistic Worldview is the only worldview I've found that is consistent with human experience.

Laugh away all you want at Christianity. Try to use logic to argue against it. But the irony is that every time you utilize logic you become your own refutation. You can't escape the Christian Theistic Worldview. You have to assume it to make sense of the world.

Re:Big duh (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#25742993)

Some creationists believe ...

Who cares?

They point to the idea that 6 billion years is not nearly enough time for earth to form

{cough} enough said. No need to carry on this particular farce.

Look, creationists can point to ideas all day (scientists call those hypotheses, at best, and have no illusions as to their validity) but in the end, such opinions are utterly worthless. Willful ignorance is still ignorance, no matter how you try to sugar-coat it.

I lump Creationists (yes, all of them) together with all the other groups exhibiting fundamentally irrational thought processes that have fallen by the wayside in the past century or so. Casualties of scientific advancement, nothing more, in spite of all their posturing and racial self-glorification. You can make all the fine distinctions that you wish, call me a redneck if it makes you happy. It matters not to me, and ultimately makes no difference. Reality is what it is, the Universe works a certain way, and science is (unfortunately for many belief systems) the only rock-solid method the human race has yet come up with for understanding and manipulating it. Religion had millenia to prove itself a viable method of explaining the true nature of our existence. It failed miserably, and is still failing.

After all those centuries (in spite of the best the world's religious leaders could do to prevent it) we finally have a systematic and effective pattern of thought, one that has taken us dramatically further in a tiny fraction of the time. Let me put it another way. Faith has its uses: explaining how and why everything works is not one of them.

If you believe that God created our reality, who is to say you're wrong: science has no interest in that question. On the other hand, if you mean to say that belief trumps reason and real understanding, you have a problem.

The good news is that it is entirely curable, with some effort.

Re:Big duh (2, Insightful)

PuckSR (1073464) | about 6 years ago | (#25743065)

I understand your anger, but I think it is severely misplaced.

"Creationist" is a term. Terms have definitions. While languages are fluid and definitions can change over time, definitions still exist.

A Creationist is someone who believes in the biblical "creation". Their are two main subsets of creationism.
1) Young Earth Creationist(YEC)-believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old
2) Old Earth Creationist(OEC)-believes that the Earth is much older. OEC argues that the "7 days of creation" were not representative of a standard day, but rather a general term for the passing of time

Both groups agree on the same basic things:
God created life
God created all of the animals
God created man seperately
The bible is totally true in its explanation of the beginning

"Some creationists believe that evolution happened, but is way to complicated to have happened by chance."
This is absolutely wrong and self-conflicting
"evolution" implies that random mutations and natural selection were responsible for the outcome.
If God(or whoever) guided the development of organisms and performed some cosmic form of animal husbandry, then it sure wasn't evolution.

You seem to really miss the fact that words have specific meanings. You don't get to decide to just co-opt words to do whatever you want.
Creationism=biblical creation story is 100% true
Evolution=the unguided change and adaptation of biological organisms

You can believe whatever you want, but you don't get to make up your own definition for words!

Re:Big duh (5, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25742845)

making fun of a stupid idea isn't bigotry. you can choose not to believe in irrational backward beliefs/myths. if they sound stupid and don't make a whole lot of sense, then how do you expect people to react to them? bigotry is discriminating against people for things they cannot change. for instance, persecuting someone because of their sexual orientation--that is bigotry.

being intolerant of ignorance, or criticizing/refuting specious beliefs, isn't cruel or unethical. in fact, it's societally beneficial. it's because our society is too tolerant of ignorance and blatant stupidity that the religious right has gained so much power in the U.S., which has allowed the ID movement to gain so much traction, and to cause religion to impede scientific research. it's also the reason why the U.S. is still "debating" on whether global warming is happening while the governments of other countries are already working hard to attenuate climate change.

Re:Big duh (4, Insightful)

SteveWoz (152247) | about 6 years ago | (#25743105)

One problem is that a lot of people try to hang on the 'scientific' label and follow what they hear, the same as those in a church. Thus those governments working hard to attenuate climate change may be enhancing it, by directing resources in wrong directions. If we really understand global warming enough to believe in our models, they should be able to tell us whether a trillion dollars of effort would affect the global temperature by a tenth of a degree. If not, it's a wasteful effort with no observable impact. Look how a corporation makes important expenditure decisions. How much benefit does a certain expenditure result in. Politics is a fun game but is a lot like religion. We pick a side and follow it, right or wrong.

Re:Big duh (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 years ago | (#25743117)

"for instance, persecuting someone because of their sexual orientation--that is bigotry."

So are you saying it's bigotted to discriminate against pedophiles, what about against incest? Technically these are orientations that 'can't be changed'?

Re:Big duh (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25743301)

well, ignoring the fact those are not sexual orientations [wikipedia.org] , if someone is attracted to children but doesn't act on it, then why should they be discriminated against or punished? likewise with someone who has incestuous feelings. heck, if two consensual adults engage in incestuous acts, that's their own business. as long as they aren't hurting anyone, why should they be persecuted for the way they are mentally wired?

and just because it's wrong to discriminate against people based on their innate or inborn disposition doesn't mean people can't be held responsible for their actions which are conscious decisions. you can't choose who/what you're attracted to. but you can choose what beliefs you espouse and personally believe in.

Then why the.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742443)

They have evidence that organisms actually have the ability to control their own evolution."

Then why the hell do I not have a power level over 9,000?

ID (2, Funny)

againjj (1132651) | about 6 years ago | (#25742445)

So, the designer is really just a pile of proteins?

Re:ID (2, Funny)

naz404 (1282810) | about 6 years ago | (#25742761)

AHA!!! Midichlorians!

old news and a link (5, Informative)

Kandenshi (832555) | about 6 years ago | (#25742451)

PZ Myers had a bit of commentary on this news on his blog, pharyngula.

I'd encourage everyone here to read the post [scienceblogs.com] , as well as some of the comments from readers below. The press release is self-contradictory, and extremely vague in terms of details. I'm not expecting too much, but like PZ, I'll give the actual paper a read whenever I can find it.

Who knows, maybe they've found something truly revolutionary... but you can't tell from the press clipping. Ask yourself how often you've seen something science related in the paper, then found out that it bears very little resemblence to reality when you go to read the actual scientist's research papers on the subject? :P

Re:old news and a link (1)

word munger (550251) | about 6 years ago | (#25742693)

Yep, it happens all the time. PZ has an excellent take on it and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's right. This is science by press release. Let's wait for the actual report (and other scientists' analysis of it) before we come to a conclusion.

Re:old news and a link (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25742939)

I won't be surprised at whatever they find. The point of all that junk DNA is something that we have not fully figured out yet. It has a point, we'll figure it out, along with all the other things we don't yet know.

I like to think of things as puzzles. I like Lego, so looking at how Lego works often helps me as to get something right you often have to look at the problem from many sides. Additionally, putting Lego together has rules. If you don't know all the rules, you'll not be so good at putting the pieces together as you need them to be. More importantly, just because you think you know how to put the pieces together does not mean that someone else will not come up with another way to put them together slightly differently to achieve twice what you have. Lego has a lot of special pieces. When you work with them, eventually you find that 'hey, if I use it like this I can make x, y, and z that I could not make before.'

That's the thing with human biology. Every new discovery is like finding a new way to use a Lego piece. We know about enzymes, proteins and many other things. What we don't know is probably more than what we think we know already. Think of it, two 'normal' people have 4 kids together. Only one of them is autistic. How did that happen? A very small change can make a big difference. We don't even have to bring a deity into it. Chemical processes control all this. I think that we will find a great many more things with such research. It's quite possible that a small genetic change could make us impervious to cancers, colds, etc. A small genetic change could create hugely extended life spans, or even alter physiques. We have very big people and very small. Size is not always inherited in humans.

That these researchers found something that could control or propagate genetic changes or mutations should hardly be seen as surprising. It is very likely that such controlling factors are reactive to environmental input to the human body. That is to say, that extended input such as diet, climate, stresses, activities, and many other things can over time affect how these controller factors affect offspring. I cannot find any comparison to DNA taken from thousands years old samples and samples from post-x gen DNA. There has to be significant differences between hunting all day for food every day, and sitting around playing video games most of your spare time.

That feedback system spoken of has to be there for adaptation to work. It is not IMO possible for humans to evolve in so many flavors without a feedback mechanism. We recognize that skin color and some other factors are evidently borne of environmental issues from long ago. Where in the human body was the feedback mechanism? Lacking some feedback method, we have to rely on some other outside factor regularly causing mutations, some of which lasted to this day. That does not seem probable in the view of the lack of regular changes seen in the human race. Albinos might represent something like that, but we know that to be something less complex. We just don't see odd mutations on any regular basis. So if perhaps random chance was to be making the changes we should have seen something other than deformities and disease by now.

The thought that the world population is moving toward a planet populated with "little brown people" might be right as the gene pool gets more mixed.... if there are no climate or diet changes that are drastic enough to cause feedback.

Enough babbling, I just don't find this surprising. I wait for more information and more discoveries... with great anticipation and more patience than a watchmaker.

3 stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1)

Am.Rad.Theory (1406219) | about 6 years ago | (#25742463)

Anyone ever read the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch? Im sure there's plenty of you... I guess my question is, when are the ruling elite going to start their E-Therapy?

Re:3 stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1)

grub (11606) | about 6 years ago | (#25742475)

I just finished that book on the weekend!

If the feedback doesn't alter the DNA... (2, Insightful)

lgordon (103004) | about 6 years ago | (#25742499)

If the feedback doesn't alter the DNA itself, then there's no "smart evolution." It's just an evolutionary consequence to a gazillion random mutations. As an "improved natural selector" it seems less so, as the consequence of this is that organisms are more able to adapt to changing conditions. If the conditions change rapidly enough, maybe the feedback effect allows the organism to live, but not thrive, allowing for further random mutations to allow it to outperform its peers in the new environment.

This doesn't go against evolution at all (5, Interesting)

bcn17 (1390121) | about 6 years ago | (#25742509)

This doesn't go against evolution at all. It simply means that a system has evolved that checks for errors in a very conserved process (the electron transport chain) because if it wasn't conserved then the species would be less fit (less offspring) and die out. It's important to note that evolution is a change in allele frequencies of a population. So this electron transport problem control system is not actively changing allele frequencies. It is simply accounting for problems that arise and letting the organism be fit when it might otherwise not because of some sort of deleterious mutation.

Re:This doesn't go against evolution at all (1)

yougene123 (1401573) | about 6 years ago | (#25742739)

This isn't evolution? Yes and no. Sub-atomic particles converging to form atoms and atoms converging into molecules are both technically evolution. Darwinian evolution is a particular instance of a broader process, Extropy.

i could've told you that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742519)

> Scientists Discover Proteins Controlling Evolution

Yeah, it's called "Jesus Christ"

Re:i could've told you that (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 6 years ago | (#25742587)

Yes, I believe it's in the "JC3" gene pair.

Re:i could've told you that (1)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#25742617)

Scientists Discover Proteins Controlling Evolution

Yeah, it's called "Jesus Christ"

You know a scientist named Hey-zeus Christ?

The crux of the article (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 years ago | (#25742539)

The article is light on details, and possibly controversial, but here is the main point:

In other words, organisms are evolving ways to evolve better.

This is interesting because matches what I have seen my own brain doing. When I was young, I only learned by watching, listening, and feeling. Then I learned to talk, and could learn by having people explain things to me. Then I learned to read, and I could learn by going to the library, something that was unavailable before.

These are crude examples, but even now my brain continues to grow and, essentially, learn new ways to learn. Evolution and learning are recursive functions.

Re:The crux of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742793)

Sad that all this brain evolutionary process of yours ended up wasted by reading slashdot...

Fertility benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742569)

This research sounds like something that could lead to reducing the risks of pregnancy for the 30-40 crowd.

What if mitochondria were found to be the source of most genetic birth defects?

Gawker. News for Nerds. Stuff before Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742591)

Wow. Now Slashdot is waiting for Gawker to break science news to the blog crowd?

http://io9.com/5083673/princeton-scientists-discover-proteins-that-control-evolution

Alternative theory of evolution (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 6 years ago | (#25742667)

When I was in school they taught us there were two theories of evolution: Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest, and some nutcase's theory that creatures adapt to their environment and pass those changes down to their children. For example, giraffes stretched their necks to reach food and because they stretched their necks that characteristic was passed down to their children. Sure, the school was just trying to discredit Darwin, but now you're telling me that nutcase's theory has merit?

Not Lamarckian Evolution (2, Informative)

Pfhorrest (545131) | about 6 years ago | (#25742765)

When I was in school they taught us there were two theories of evolution: Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest, and some nutcase's theory that creatures adapt to their environment and pass those changes down to their children. For example, giraffes stretched their necks to reach food and because they stretched their necks that characteristic was passed down to their children. Sure, the school was just trying to discredit Darwin, but now you're telling me that nutcase's theory has merit?

You're thinking of Lamarckian evolution [wikipedia.org] , which is completely unrelated to Wallace's conjecture discussed in the article and remains well-refuted to this day. Lamarckism was supplanted by Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Re:Alternative theory of evolution (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | about 6 years ago | (#25742929)

The 'nutcase' was named Lamarck [wikipedia.org] .. it turns out that yes, his theory does have some merit, though certainly not in the way you describe. It also predates Darwin's by a few years.

That said, i'm going to leave explaining it to someone more familiar with it.

Of course... (1)

kevind23 (1296253) | about 6 years ago | (#25742697)

Duh, what else are fire stones for?

Kudos, but... (1)

jnnnnn (1079877) | about 6 years ago | (#25742707)

This should not be so surprising.

Organisms that can adapt faster are going to be more successful. Therefore, most organisms will have mechanisms that allow them to adapt quickly.

We can be Heroes (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 6 years ago | (#25742749)

and not just on TV.

Wait until the furries find out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742757)

Yif we can!

as the hitchhikers guide ot galaxy says (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | about 6 years ago | (#25742777)

as the hitchhikers guide ot galaxy says
"and who was that god fella anyhow"

First X-Man! (2, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 6 years ago | (#25742821)

That's right folks.. a mutant with the ability to first post!

Ok, so I still need to master it, but still.

So Random Has Been Demoted? (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | about 6 years ago | (#25742829)

So now random mutations are not allowed to be totally random anymore? Or should I conclude that, somehow, evolution figured out (solely via random mutations, mind you) that totally random mutations are not such a good thing? When did this realization evolve? Was it a recent occurrence or has it been in the works from day one? I have the funny feeling that there is some weirdness in our forever-evolving evolutionary hypothesis that is just a little too weird. We are going to need an evolutionary hypothesis to explain our evolutionary hypothesis.

fuck yes! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742913)

only 30 more minutes until world of fagcraft : wrath of the dildo king comes out. i just can't wait for that shit. not at all.

another half an hour and i can beat off to more of the shittiest mmorpg ever made.

This is old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25742979)

Scientists working on Polio (See Andino) have long since detected that viruses always live on the verge of mutating themselves to death to allow for the maximum variance in the quasispecies. When you add artificial mutagens they decrease their mutation rate (Ie only variants with a lower mutation rate survive). When you remove the pressure, they move back to a mutation rate which keeps variation high, but doesn't cause them to mutate themselves extinct. Obviously its possible for multicellular organisms to adopt similar mechanisms, I mean sex in general is a method for generating non-lethal varience.

Sweet (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | about 6 years ago | (#25743165)

Now I just have to figure out how to evolve me some adamantium claws.

Old News and Slightly Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743195)

A cell's ability to mutate its own DNA is not a new discovery. For example, our immune system is purposely mutating constantly to make new antibodies to ward off disease. Also, when a cell purposely mutates, it still mutates in a somewhat random fashion. Just think... if our cells have the ability change their DNA to code for whatever they desired, would we still be fighting HIV/AIDS--or, for that matter, wouldn't everyone have large genitalia, like ScrewMaster suggests?--Clearly this article is a bit misleading. Yes, some cells purposely mutate their DNA. No, these cells cannot choose how to mutate based on a predicted result of said mutation.

2nd law of thermodynamics anyone? (1)

Wolfier (94144) | about 6 years ago | (#25743197)

so it's not a closed system. whose entropy are we increasing in order to control our own evolution?

Told you so (1)

Whiteox (919863) | about 6 years ago | (#25743261)

I always knew Darwin was wrong.
Good try though!

Re:Told you so (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | about 6 years ago | (#25743323)

That is the point of science, ya know. When data doesn't support theory, theory is revised and everyone cheers.

Btw: you missed the "in before Creationists jump to invalid conclusions." ;)

Pure Garbage! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25743285)

Having quickly glanced through the paper it appears they have no clue what the hell evolution actually is. Where is the DNA sequence that is supposed to have changed? You altered one protein to screw it up and it didn't work to break the system? That's not evolution, that's just a system that can adapt and we've known for quite a long time that adaptation does not equal evolution.

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