This site has an interesting (and intricate) discussion of fitness landscapes.
It offers some additional discussion of some IDists mathematics regarding fitness landscapes too.
quote:The main fitness-landscape argument used by creationists against evolution is based on Dembski's No Free Lunch work. NFL is a family of theorems which (stated informally) says: averaged over all possible fitness landscapes, no search algorithm can possibly do better than a random walk.
quote: Evolution works in landscapes with structure. Another way of putting that is that evolution works in landscapes where the result of a search step provides feedback about the structure of the landscape. But the key takeaway here is that NFL doesn't provide any meaningful rebuttal to information, because we don't expect evolutionary search to work in all possible landscapes!
quote:Lately, Dembski and friends have been taking a new tack, which involves talking about "smuggling information". They've been using the NFL argument for years, but they've run into a rather serious problem: evolution works.
In response (there are two)
quote: The first one is, in a word, "Duh!". That is, of course there's information about the landscape in the system. As I discussed above, there's no such thing as a search algorithm that works on all landscapes, but for landscapes with particular properties, there are search algorithms that are highly successful. If you look at it from an information-theoretic viewpoint, any search algorithm which can successfully operate in a particular search space encodes information about the space into its structure. From the viewpoint of math, this is just totally, blindingly obvious.
And it's not a problem for biological evolution. Biological evolution is based on mutation, reproduction, and differential success. That is, it's a process where you have a population of reproducing individuals, where the children are slightly different from the parents. Some of the children survive and reproduce, and some don't. This process clearly only works within a particular kind of search space; that is, a search space where the survival to reproduction of a subset of the population indicates that that subset of the population has a higher fitness value.
Evolution, modeled as a search, requires certain properties in its search space for it to work. The information smuggling argument basically claims that that means that it can't work. But every successful search algorithm has certain requirements for he search-space in which it operates. By the arguments of Demski and friends, there is no such thing as a successful search that doesn't cheat.
quote:The Swedish government has announced plans to clamp down hard on religious education. It will soon become illegal even for private faith schools to teach religious doctrines as if they were true.
quote:Creationism and ID are explicitly banned but so is proselytising even in religious education classes. The Qur'an may not be taught as if it is true even in Muslim independent schools, nor may the Bible in Christian schools.
For 25 years, Miller had kept it as cold as Jupiterâ€™s icy moon Europaâ€”too cold, most scientists had assumed, for anything to have happened. What Levy found was that seven different amino acids and 11 types of nucleobases had formed.
â€œWhat was remarkable,â€ Bada says, â€œis that the yield in these frozen experiments was better, for some compounds, than it was with room-temperature experiments.â€
A young scientist named Alexander Vlassov may have accidentally found the answer of how tiny snippets of RNA became longer, well-crafted chains that could have acted as the very first enzymes. Vlassov was working at SomaGenics, a biotech company in Santa Cruz, California, to develop RNA enzymes that latch on to the hepatitis C virus. But his RNA enzymes werenâ€™t behaving. They normally consisted of a single segment of RNA, but every time he cooled them below freezing to purify them, the chain of RNA spontaneously joined its ends into a circle, like a snake biting its own tail. As Vlassov attempted to correct the â€œglitchâ€, he noticed that another RNA enzyme, called hairpin, was also acting up. At room temperature, hairpin acts like scissors, snipping other RNA molecules into pieces. But when Vlassov froze it, it ran in reverse: It glued other RNA chains together end to end.