17 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 Teaching as Natural Selection

Teaching is commonly associated with instruction, yet in evolution, immunology, and neuroscience, instructional theories are largely defunct. We propose a co-immunity theory of teaching, where attempts by a teacher to alter student neuronal structure to accommodate cultural ideas and practices is sort of a reverse to the function of the immune system, which exists to preserve the physical self, while teaching episodes are designed to alter the mental self. This is a theory of teaching that ...
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17 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 Instruction vs. Selection

The main difference between an instructional system and a selectional system is that the instructional system uses information from the environment to change the properties of the object in question, but a selectional system has a large and varied population of objects, and the ones that are most fit for the environment are differentially reproduced. Hopefully an example Edelman uses from immunology will help clear this up. The theory prevailing before the present one was called the theory ...
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05 OCT 2014 by ideonexus

 Winning War Through Artificial Selection

"The project was cancelled," said Nessus. "We found that the Man-Kzin wars put sufficient restriction on kzinti expansion, made you less dangerous. We continued to watch. "Six times over several centuries, you attacked the worlds of men. Six times you were defeated, having lost approximately two-thirds of your male population in each war. Need I comment on the level of intelligence displayed? No? In any case, you were never in real danger of extermination. Your nonsentient females were lar...
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21 NOV 2013 by ideonexus

 1945 Warning of Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance

But I would like to sound one note of warning. Penicillin is to all intents and purposes non-poisonous so there is no need to worry about giving an overdose and poisoning the patient. There may be a danger, though, in underdosage. It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them, and the same thing has occasionally happened in the body. The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the...
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At his Nobel lecture for discovering penicillin, Alexander Fleming warns that if you use, use enough to kill. Maiming the bacteria will make it resistant.

24 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 Make Mistakes

For evolution, which knows nothing, the steps into novelty are blindly taken by mutations, which are random copying “errors” in DNA. Most of these typographical errors are of no consequence, since nothing reads them! They are as inconsequential as the rough drafts you didn’t, or don’t, hand in to the teacher for grading. The DNA of a species is rather like a recipe for building a new body, and most of the DNA is never actually consulted in the building process. (It is often called “...
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Evolution makes them all the time, and look what it has produced. Appreciate your mistakes, view them as works of art.

13 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 The Fundamentals of Cancer

Cancer, we now know, is a disease caused by the uncontrolled growth of a single cell. This growth is unleashed by mutations—changes in DNA that specifically affect genes that incite unlimited cell growth. In a normal cell, powerful genetic circuits regulate cell division and cell death. In a cancer cell, these circuits have been broken, unleashing a cell that cannot stop growing. That this seemingly simple mechanism—cell growth without barriers—can lie at the heart of this grotesque an...
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It is a mutated cell, a renegade, the key is to keep it from mutating.

17 SEP 2013 by ideonexus

 Neurons are Domesticated Cells

You really don't have to worry about one part of your laptop going rogue and trying out something on its own that the rest of the system doesn't want to do. No, they're all slaves. If they're agents, they're slaves. They are prisoners. They have very clear job descriptions. They get fed every day. They don't have to worry about where the energy's coming from, and they're not ambitious. They just do what they're asked to do and do it brilliantly with only the slightest tint of comprehension. Y...
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But they are also slightly feral. Neurons compete with one another, the brain works by neural pruning, natural selection. Cells that don't get used are allowed to die. Thus, neurons are motivated to survive, to have some independence.

23 JUN 2013 by ideonexus

 Hamilton's Model

Hamilton's rule is rb - c > 0. Here c is the cost to the giver's fitness (c fewer offspring because of helping), and b is the benefit to the recipient's fitness (offspring gained by the recipient from the help). Here again, "r" is a measure of the relatedness between giver and the receiver [...] Hamilton’s rule says that for unrelated individuals (r = 0) no benefit can overcome the cost of loss of the altruist's fitness (0 - c can't be greater than 0) and aid giving is selected against...
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Explains why members of a species will sacrifice themselves for offspring that are not their own.

21 JUN 2013 by ideonexus

 Cancer as a Microevolutionary Process

The body of an animal operates as a society or ecosystem whose individual members are cells, reproducing by cell division and organized into collaborative assemblies or tissues. In our earlier discussion of the maintenance of tissues (Chapter 22), our interests were similar to those of the ecologist: cell births, deaths, habitats, territorial limitations, and the maintenance of population sizes. The one ecological topic conspicuously absent was that of natural selection: we said nothing of co...
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Cancer evolves within us, growing by natural selection in rebellion against the environment of our body's ecosystem.

08 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 The Danger of Teleological Accounts of Evolution

It's important to remember that arguments over evolutionary mechanisms often depend on the deeply held convictions of evolutionary biologists—after all, biologists are people, too! Almost everyone is reluctant to let go of deeply held convictions. Many biologists, in particular, are still attracted to teleological accounts of evolution. Teleology is the idea that all activities tend toward the achievement of some sort of goal. "Everything as to its purpose" is the undercurrent of teleology,...
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The idea that evolution has a purpose and that natural selection works efficiently are erroneous.