Robert Preston rapr at MED.PITT.EDU
Mon Apr 25 16:42:48 EST 1994

in reply to Xia's anthropomorphigenation re phage lambda's intellect,
D.Z. Skinner asks, "how can a phage, with only about 48K basebairs of
DNA, no systems, no nerves, certainly no brain, make a DECISION???"

This makes me wonder: how much information is actually present in the
48K basepairs of lambda?  Now, if I were an engineer, I might say, oh,
well, you have 48,000 places and 4 different choices of base per place,
so that gives a kajillion bits of information, or something like that.

But it seems the information is somehow context-dependent (evolutionary
context).  Like, the sequence of lambda "means" one thing in our universe,
but it would almost have to "mean" total nonsense in a (this is a gedanken-
experiment) parallel universe where the analogs of "E. coli" would fail
to interact with our lambda because of the vagaries of evolution.

I guess I'm asking, does anyone know how to compute historical-evolutionary
"information" content?

Rob Preston
rapr at med.pitt.edu

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