ranking biological success

John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing john.wilkins at udev.monash.edu.au
Wed Dec 22 21:42:38 EST 1993

In article <1993Dec22.165039.15478 at news.yale.edu>,
una at doliolum.biology.yale.edu (Una Smith) wrote:

> Robert C. Colgrove <robin at cco.caltech.edu> wrote:
> >What are the accepted measures of "success" of various biological entities?
> >Total free energy consumed? Total nucleic acid complexity? Just curious.
> The measures you describe sound pretty good to me.  If you don't like them,
> then decide for yourself what measures would be fair/interesting.  You
> suggest two:  how would you measure energy consumption?  Start with biomass,
> then get a rough estimate of metabolic requirements.  How much does an insect
> eat, relative to its size, compared to humans or to all vertebrate animals?
> What does "nucleic acid complexity" mean?  There are only 4 nucleic acids.
> And although chromosomes are composed of long strings of nucleic acids, I
> don't know how to judge one string more "complex" than another.  Did you
> mean to ask about genome *size*?  That is one standard measure, but I don't
> know what it has to do with "success".
> Well, I think that's a sufficient homework assignment for the next few weeks,
> given that it is vacation time.  I look forward to seeing what you come up
> with in early January.

What are professional biologists' views on the measures suggested by Brooks
and Wiley - ie, informational cohesion and complexity and entropy increase?

John Wilkins - Manager, Publishing, Monash University, 
Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria 3168 [Melbourne] Australia
Internet: john.wilkins at udev.monash.edu.au
Tel: (+613) 565 6009
Monash neither knows, nor approves, of what I say

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