Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Earth: Still 6000 years old?

This is some amazing science: Apply constant selective pressure to a population of bacteria, and take a sample of them every 10,000 generations and freeze it and see what happens over time. Do this from 1988 to now.

First off, this is exactly why I'm not in scientific research. I do not have the patience to stick with the precise tedium of lab science for long periods of time. It takes a special kind of patience/ OCD to do this. I am not that guy. I appreciate and respect those who do have it. Without them, humans would still be banging rocks together and believing in magic. Well, batting .500 is still very good. Good job, scientists.

Second, as noted in the comments, the genetic sequencing technology we have today is off the charts better than anything existed back when Dr. Lenski started. It may be luck, or it may be thinking some very long thoughts, or serendipity, but the analysis he's going to be able to do wasn't possible when he started. That takes a special kind of scientific mind.

The two changes observed in the genes/ phenotypes of the e. coli make sense: If you only get one, small dose of glucose a day to live on, you can either
  1. Adapt to take in as much of it as possible as fast as possible and use it, then sort of hibernate until your next dose. Basically, eat fast when there's food, then manage well when there's not.
  2. Learn to eat something else.
I have no idea how the "Intelligent" design types can possibly reconcile this with their world views. The guy created evolution in the lab and archived the organisms as they evolved.

Science: It works, bitches.