In article <32851a13.0 at news.iea.net>,
Steve McGrew <stevem at comtch.iea.com> wrote:
>I've been looking for help in designing a software model of evolution that
>might be useful for testing some of the ideas in evolutionary theory, and for
>teaching the principles of evolution to students in grades 8 through 12.
>>I thought a genetic algorithm all by itself was a pretty good model, but got
>pretty unanimous contrary opinions from folks in the biology field. I don't
>think the objection is that software *can't* model evolution, but that so far
>>So, I'd like to hear opinions on the *essential* features a software model
>will need to have, in order to give experts in the field some confidence that
>its behavior will be usefully similar to natural evolution. [and please don't
>say it has to accurately model biochemistry! This needs to be a *simplified*
>model that retains the important features of the system it is modeling.]
There are about a million ways that I can think of approaching this
project. Here are a couple of thoughts:
Start with a generic organism with a list of specific heritable traits...
Such as temperature tolerance, ability to metabolize simple or complex
molecules, genetic fidelity, ability to photosynthesize, etc.
Assign a 'cost' to each trait... say in terms of reproductive rate.
Then you could add environmental parameters which will favor certain
traits over time: available resources, mutagens, temperature extremes,
If you allow a small number of your population to
randomly lose, shift (in the case of temperature tolerance), enhance
or gain traits, you should have a statistical analysis which can indicate
evolutionary development and that will be intuitive to the average school
Good luck, sounds like a great project. And let me know what you come up