genetic code & mutation rates
ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za
Mon Jul 31 07:59:59 EST 1995
> From: eddy at wol.wustl.edu (Sean Eddy)
> Subject: Re: genetic code & mutation rates
> In article <3vauce$obv at newsbf02.news.aol.com> hpyockey at aol.com (HPYockey) writes:
> >Theoretical biology should follow theoretical physics.
> With respect, I couldn't disagree more.
And I couldn't agree more!
> Theoretical physics has made such tremendous strides because, in
> physics, simplicity is truth. In biology, simplicity is rarely
> truth. Occam's razor need not apply to a biological system that has
> been mightily lifted from the ooze by three billion years of
> evolutionary tinkering.
> In my opinion, much harm has been done to "theoretical biology" by
> physicists who are unwilling to know how complex their favorite
> biological problem really is. (Present company excepted, I hope.)
Hear, hear. I have arguments with theoretical physicists in which it
has quickly become apparent that they regard the complexity of the
Universe as being the sum of its elementary particles...with not much
thought as to the interactions between them. The one I had the most
sense from was amazed when he finally realised just what
combinatorial possibilities there were inherent in strings of 4
bases, let alone in long strings of 20 amino acids, or in the
combinations of different polypeptides. In biology there is still no
substitute for experiment: so many of the systems are simply not
amenable to theory. A simple example is tobacco mosaic virus: only 4
genes, but the consequences of changing a single base in any of them
cannot be accurately foreseen in terms of effects of the phenotype.
| Ed Rybicki, PhD | ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za |
| Dept Microbiology | University of Cape Town |
| Private Bag, Rondebosch | 7700, South Africa |
| fax: x27-21-650 4023 | phone: x27-21-650-3265 |
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