Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Physicists with biology envy.

Ok. Far be it from me to discourage interdisciplinary study and I can't say that Freeman Dyson is completely off track on this one but...

What is it with physicists and their desire to revolutionize that poor misguided subject of biology. First Roger Penrose and his quantum neurology theory that is both unnecessary and annoying and now this?! Freeman seems to overlook the fact that this horizontal evolution as he calls it continues to this day. Mostly simple bacteria but also more complex organisms like plants trade genes between species. Even animals pick up genes from unusual sources. I recall a Scientific American article some time ago about a species of parasitoid wasp that lays eggs in a big ugly caterpillar. Not only has it incorporated a caterpillar virus into its genome so that it's eggs and larval young can disable the hosts immune system but it has also incorporated some of another parasite's genes that happened to aid its kids in their parasite-like practices.

Most complex animal life doesn't live in such close quarters with other organisms to facilitate accidental gene transfer. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen and it certainly doesn't mean biologists are ignorant of it. Certainly in bacteria, interspecies gene transfer is old news.

Maybe physicists should study a little biology before they revolutionize the field.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home



 


Day By Day© by Chris Muir.