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What are the Odds of Life evolving by chance alone?


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The first group, as you put it, refers to the knowledge of chemistry and physics, while acknowledging that there is a knowledge gap somewhere.

 

Let's consider the "gap" in question here.

 

Whenever we talk about the theory for the evolution of man, the chart that shows the 1st primitive ape, followed by the 2nd and so on until the modern man today comes into mind. In brief, evolution would tell us it happened as a result of natural selection, and other naturally occurring modes of change from our environment that favoured us to walk more upright and also for our brains to be more tuned towards increased intelligence.

It seems highly plausible at 1st glance, but things get a bit tricky if we put it into a realistic background to consider:

1) If intelligence was the preferrential trait at the time of the "1st ape", the concept of natural selection should expect those born with better wired brains would statistically survive better.

2) Evolution assumes these "higher species" will definitely have offspring in order to pass them to the next generation, but that is not always the case

3) we need to remember also these "intelligent" offsprings do not naturally come in batches at 1 go, or in other words, they are usually the minority (very very few in the large pool of his lesser brethrens)

If we put this theory into today's context, it could be like saying Albert Einstein is the 1st of "its kind" (the intelligent one). Say he did marry another woman of the same IQ, so will his children be born "better equipped" than the rest of us already, such that his line, will survive better and even outbreed the rest of us?

To take the examination of this theory further, we see the apes progressed from 1st to the 2nd and so forth, as if the previous one was replaced by the latter.

In today's world, we only see the modern man, and the apes. For this to happen, it would mean the entire groups of ape1,2,3 etc somehow all died out or got entirely interbreeded.

Considering how people move from places to places, and also geographical isolations, the possibility to be able to outbreed all the previous ape kinds of man in the entire world would be.. near impossible (unless perhaps our ancient ancestors lived in very small groups and do not travel around for at least the past 100 thousands of years).

 

 

Then back to the topic of "life" (especially for the more complex ones that has its own "will") occurring from "non-life" chemicals, do we already have the explanation how that "jump" came about?

As of now, we are only able at best to theorise how chemicals can occur naturally into structures similar to the components for life.

Abiogenesis also only theorise how structures may naturally replicate or group itself into something more complex.

But this theory is still a far cry from being able to explain how lifeless chemicals become a "self-willed" organism.

 

If we ask ourselves, "is there gravity and do we understand it fully?" the answer is yes and no.

Yes because scientifically, we can observe and seemingly prove it empirically. However, it is no because we are not able to fully explain it completely as of now. But the conclusion is still yes there is gravity despite our lack of complete explanation.

That is a knowledge gap.

However, when it comes to beliving in creation by evolution, we have yet to know if the earth (note not the universe) is truly as old as it has to be (in order we have the sufficient amount of time taken for evolution to work), we have yet to understand and explain how lifeless chemicals can become "self-willed" organisms.

When we consider complex organs like the brain, the intestines, kidneys etc, that work in perfect tandem to inter-regulate the entire body system, we assumed they fine-tuned themselves thru natural processes (have you ever tried to design and build a computer and made it work?). Then when we suffer from cancer or ailments, we wonder why they don't work as "it should" (consider if we believe in evolution, why should we expect it to operate with a pre-defined function, as the saying goes "survival of the fittest", and if your body parts fail, you are not one of the selected).

or why don't we accept cancer is some kind of "new trait" that is inherent, and not to see it as good or bad, since in the evolution context, there is no good and bad but only the final result that counts?

 

I know i may be unscientific or rather layman and weak for those points, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves the amount of pre-assumptions we have to give (unknowingly) to support our belief for creation by evolution.

By that, I don't mean that will disprove evolution of course, just that we ought to look in closer detail the kind of assumptions we are willing to accept.

 

 

Side note:

We cannot yet disprove the possibility of a creator too (although this saying will offend those who will say it is "unscientific!", do we not realise in the 1st place, the method of science already opposes itself to proving supernatural beings? Thus even if they truly exist, we won't find them from this method. It would be like trying to use our naked eye to see infra-red)

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Codswallop. The outcomes of chemistry are not random, so the calculation is meaningless.

There is something called the RNA first model(or RNA world model). That RNA was the genetic material before DNA. Although RNA is less stable in the open environment, it has some very interesting pro

That is strictly true. However, it's important not to forget that we must average over a large ensemble of reactant molecules.   Let's say that the probability of any A molecule reacting with a B m

Let's consider the "gap" in question here.

 

Whenever we talk about the theory for the evolution of man, the chart that shows the 1st primitive ape, followed by the 2nd and so on until the modern man today comes into mind. In brief, evolution would tell us it happened as a result of natural selection, and other naturally occurring modes of change from our environment that favoured us to walk more upright and also for our brains to be more tuned towards increased intelligence.

It seems highly plausible at 1st glance, but things get a bit tricky if we put it into a realistic background to consider:

1) If intelligence was the preferrential trait at the time of the "1st ape", the concept of natural selection should expect those born with better wired brains would statistically survive better.

2) Evolution assumes these "higher species" will definitely have offspring in order to pass them to the next generation, but that is not always the case

3) we need to remember also these "intelligent" offsprings do not naturally come in batches at 1 go, or in other words, they are usually the minority (very very few in the large pool of his lesser brethrens)

If we put this theory into today's context, it could be like saying Albert Einstein is the 1st of "its kind" (the intelligent one). Say he did marry another woman of the same IQ, so will his children be born "better equipped" than the rest of us already, such that his line, will survive better and even outbreed the rest of us?

To take the examination of this theory further, we see the apes progressed from 1st to the 2nd and so forth, as if the previous one was replaced by the latter.

In today's world, we only see the modern man, and the apes. For this to happen, it would mean the entire groups of ape1,2,3 etc somehow all died out or got entirely interbreeded.

Considering how people move from places to places, and also geographical isolations, the possibility to be able to outbreed all the previous ape kinds of man in the entire world would be.. near impossible (unless perhaps our ancient ancestors lived in very small groups and do not travel around for at least the past 100 thousands of years).

 

 

Then back to the topic of "life" (especially for the more complex ones that has its own "will") occurring from "non-life" chemicals, do we already have the explanation how that "jump" came about?

As of now, we are only able at best to theorise how chemicals can occur naturally into structures similar to the components for life.

Abiogenesis also only theorise how structures may naturally replicate or group itself into something more complex.

But this theory is still a far cry from being able to explain how lifeless chemicals become a "self-willed" organism.

 

If we ask ourselves, "is there gravity and do we understand it fully?" the answer is yes and no.

Yes because scientifically, we can observe and seemingly prove it empirically. However, it is no because we are not able to fully explain it completely as of now. But the conclusion is still yes there is gravity despite our lack of complete explanation.

That is a knowledge gap.

However, when it comes to beliving in creation by evolution, we have yet to know if the earth (note not the universe) is truly as old as it has to be (in order we have the sufficient amount of time taken for evolution to work), we have yet to understand and explain how lifeless chemicals can become "self-willed" organisms.

When we consider complex organs like the brain, the intestines, kidneys etc, that work in perfect tandem to inter-regulate the entire body system, we assumed they fine-tuned themselves thru natural processes (have you ever tried to design and build a computer and made it work?). Then when we suffer from cancer or ailments, we wonder why they don't work as "it should" (consider if we believe in evolution, why should we expect it to operate with a pre-defined function, as the saying goes "survival of the fittest", and if your body parts fail, you are not one of the selected).

or why don't we accept cancer is some kind of "new trait" that is inherent, and not to see it as good or bad, since in the evolution context, there is no good and bad but only the final result that counts?

 

I know i may be unscientific or rather layman and weak for those points, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves the amount of pre-assumptions we have to give (unknowingly) to support our belief for creation by evolution.

By that, I don't mean that will disprove evolution of course, just that we ought to look in closer detail the kind of assumptions we are willing to accept.

 

 

Side note:

We cannot yet disprove the possibility of a creator too (although this saying will offend those who will say it is "unscientific!", do we not realise in the 1st place, the method of science already opposes itself to proving supernatural beings? Thus even if they truly exist, we won't find them from this method. It would be like trying to use our naked eye to see infra-red)

Your lack of understanding of science and evolution is stunning, I suggest you do a little bit of research some place other creationist web sites. talkorigins.org would be a good place to start...

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Your lack of understanding of science and evolution is stunning, I suggest you do a little bit of research some place other creationist web sites. talkorigins.org would be a good place to start...

 

How can you make such a hurtful and judgmental comment to a person who you know nothing about, he just might be much more informed than you are in subjects of his expertise. It will help if you tried to be a bit more friendly!

 

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2bDetailsoforigin.shtml

3domains_origins.gif

Edited by Alan McDougall
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Let's consider the "gap" in question here.

 

Whenever we talk about the theory for the evolution of man, the chart that shows the 1st primitive ape, followed by the 2nd and so on until the modern man today comes into mind. In brief, evolution would tell us it happened as a result of natural selection, and other naturally occurring modes of change from our environment that favoured us to walk more upright and also for our brains to be more tuned towards increased intelligence.

It seems highly plausible at 1st glance, but things get a bit tricky if we put it into a realistic background to consider:

1) If intelligence was the preferrential trait at the time of the "1st ape", the concept of natural selection should expect those born with better wired brains would statistically survive better.

2) Evolution assumes these "higher species" will definitely have offspring in order to pass them to the next generation, but that is not always the case

3) we need to remember also these "intelligent" offsprings do not naturally come in batches at 1 go, or in other words, they are usually the minority (very very few in the large pool of his lesser brethrens)

If we put this theory into today's context, it could be like saying Albert Einstein is the 1st of "its kind" (the intelligent one). Say he did marry another woman of the same IQ, so will his children be born "better equipped" than the rest of us already, such that his line, will survive better and even outbreed the rest of us?

To take the examination of this theory further, we see the apes progressed from 1st to the 2nd and so forth, as if the previous one was replaced by the latter.

In today's world, we only see the modern man, and the apes. For this to happen, it would mean the entire groups of ape1,2,3 etc somehow all died out or got entirely interbreeded.

Considering how people move from places to places, and also geographical isolations, the possibility to be able to outbreed all the previous ape kinds of man in the entire world would be.. near impossible (unless perhaps our ancient ancestors lived in very small groups and do not travel around for at least the past 100 thousands of years).

 

 

2) Evolution didn't assume. A mutation occurred and the circumstances favored that mutation.

 

3) Here you are assuming the individual didn't use their intelligence to the fullest extent. Out compete others for food, kill off competition, take multiple partners. Likely there was an environmental threat as well that the individual's intelligence and later the group's intelligence gave them greater ability to cope with.

 

There is evidence of interbreeding. Probably wasn't as nice as people make it out to be, but evidence nonetheless.

 

Was probably more a result of time and tides than anything deliberate. Push a group to the marginal areas, famine, disease, genetic isolation start taking their toll. Eventually all that remains are traces.

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3) Here you are assuming the individual didn't use their intelligence to the fullest extent. Out compete others for food, kill off competition, take multiple partners. Likely there was an environmental threat as well that the individual's intelligence and later the group's intelligence gave them greater ability to cope with.

Well, if it was claimed by assumption i concluded the individual didn't utilise the potential, then for those who said he did, haven't you all already similarly assumed that they all did?

To put into context, which is more probable? That the enhanced individual successfully and for at least the next few generations outcompete others for food, take multiple partners etc, or perhaps, just stay obliviously in the background?

Statistically, the answer.. is both is as probable.

If the supporting reason to believe your assumption was simply "because we see the developed species today and so it must have happened", yet we do not see remnant ape1, 2 etc, doesn't the incomplete evidence reveal your conclusion was a faith-biased one?

As a objective practicioner of the method of science, can we already rule out other propositions with so little information?

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Well, if it was claimed by assumption i concluded the individual didn't utilise the potential, then for those who said he did, haven't you all already similarly assumed that they all did?

To put into context, which is more probable? That the enhanced individual successfully and for at least the next few generations outcompete others for food, take multiple partners etc, or perhaps, just stay obliviously in the background?

Statistically, the answer.. is both is as probable.

If the supporting reason to believe your assumption was simply "because we see the developed species today and so it must have happened", yet we do not see remnant ape1, 2 etc, doesn't the incomplete evidence reveal your conclusion was a faith-biased one?

As a objective practicioner of the method of science, can we already rule out other propositions with so little information?

No, faith based conclusions are not allowed in science, I really don't see why you are claiming this...

Edited by Moontanman
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The techniques and methods employed in science, are supposed to be as objective and neutral as possible, so that we don't miss out any details due to our negligence, biase-ness, to give us wrong conclusions.

It is perfectly fine to start off with hypothethesis, but we need to keep in mind, until it has sufficient evidences, it is a theory and remains inconclusive (similar to an aircraft crash investigation, where the verdict is kept open until the investigators could determine the specific cause, or it will remain a mystery).

The ultimate goal for science, is to be the tool to uncover the "real truth" of things, whatever it is.

 

For the case of proposing "there is gravity", science although cannot completely explain its nature yet, but has sufficiently proven it to exist.

However, in the case for life origins, everything is still in its development and theoretical stages.

Because of the lack of sufficient evidence, we cannot claim any of the theories as fact yet, and that is precisely why it is more like a "faith-system" - somehow, some of us already "believed" our version to be that of the truth, despite it lacking certain evidences to be true or even having some contradictions (compare it to the context of the air crash investigation, can we "close" the case of life origins already with our available findings? if not, is it not just a theory we believe but not yet the truth? if we feel it is the truth, isn't it a faith?).

 

 

 

Sidenote:

For those of us who believe that science has the answer/explanation to everything, we need to realise the backbone of science itself is based upon 1 big assumption - the natural law.

The natural law assumes things consistently behaves this way and not other, and all other things obeys these laws etc.

At the very fundamental level, why these things behave this way (and not another) in the architechure constraints of our universe, science cannot explain because it has reached the boundaries of its assumptions and cannot go beyond (eg, for the question, "since when is 1+1=2?", the logic we can understand and we take it for granted, but we cannot explain how or why it is so)

- science can only explain the things within its given assumption. If there exists greater things, science as the main tool for seeking truth would be insufficient.

What is our goal for learning science anyway? To seek the real truth or to use it for our cause?

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The techniques and methods employed in science, are supposed to be as objective and neutral as possible, so that we don't miss out any details due to our negligence, biase-ness, to give us wrong conclusions.

It is perfectly fine to start off with hypothethesis, but we need to keep in mind, until it has sufficient evidences, it is a theory and remains inconclusive (similar to an aircraft crash investigation, where the verdict is kept open until the investigators could determine the specific cause, or it will remain a mystery).

The ultimate goal for science, is to be the tool to uncover the "real truth" of things, whatever it is.

 

For the case of proposing "there is gravity", science although cannot completely explain its nature yet, but has sufficiently proven it to exist.

However, in the case for life origins, everything is still in its development and theoretical stages.

Because of the lack of sufficient evidence, we cannot claim any of the theories as fact yet, and that is precisely why it is more like a "faith-system" - somehow, some of us already "believed" our version to be that of the truth, despite it lacking certain evidences to be true or even having some contradictions (compare it to the context of the air crash investigation, can we "close" the case of life origins already with our available findings? if not, is it not just a theory we believe but not yet the truth? if we feel it is the truth, isn't it a faith?).

 

 

 

Sidenote:

For those of us who believe that science has the answer/explanation to everything, we need to realise the backbone of science itself is based upon 1 big assumption - the natural law.

The natural law assumes things consistently behaves this way and not other, and all other things obeys these laws etc.

At the very fundamental level, why these things behave this way (and not another) in the architechure constraints of our universe, science cannot explain because it has reached the boundaries of its assumptions and cannot go beyond (eg, for the question, "since when is 1+1=2?", the logic we can understand and we take it for granted, but we cannot explain how or why it is so)

- science can only explain the things within its given assumption. If there exists greater things, science as the main tool for seeking truth would be insufficient.

What is our goal for learning science anyway? To seek the real truth or to use it for our cause?

 

You make some valid points, there is some disagreement in scientific circles that the fundamental constants are really constant, careful timing of the the speed of light might differ over time

and seem to suggest that it might be slowing down. I will return with citation later? see below link?

http://opfocus.org/index.php?topic=story&v=8&s=4

Edited by Alan McDougall
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  • 1 month later...

This might be rather a simple response, and please forgive me for doing so. In my eyes, whatever the odds, it only had to happen once.

 

Yes when you restrict live coming into existence just on planet earth, but what about the boundless universe, and how did live bridge the gap between lifeless material, into living breathing entities that now exist, epically in the short time it did, after the formation of our planet?

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Yes when you restrict live coming into existence just on planet earth, but what about the boundless universe, and how did live bridge the gap between lifeless material, into living breathing entities that now exist, epically in the short time it did, after the formation of our planet?

It took something like a billion years for the first cells to appear after the formation of the planet. Perhaps we have a different definition of the word 'short?'
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I honestly think it a waste of time to calculate the probability of life because we really have no idea of the conditions or processes by which it first arose. There are some excellent hypotheses, but even they are in their infancy. The odds could be very high if there is a sort of physical law of self-organization (that is poorly worded, but it would take to long to explain what I mean otherwise). In which case, the necessary molecules would be expected to form and organize quite often. If there is no such "law", then the probability would be very low. I prefer to take the position that we openly state that "we don't know" in cases of high ambiguity because it is the intellectually honest route.

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It took something like a billion years for the first cells to appear after the formation of the planet. Perhaps we have a different definition of the word 'short?'

 

I don't think you are right, life appeared before a billion years after the earth formed.

 

http://garvandwane.com/evolution/when.html

 

When Did Life First Appear on Earth?

 

The earliest evidence for life found so far is in a 3.8 billion-year-old rock, the Isua sediments, found in western Greenland. The evidence for life in these rocks does not come from fossilized remains, but from a peculiar chemical signature of living organisms. These rocks were deposited on the surface of an oceanic crust on what was thought to be a deep ocean. So the Isua sediments are actually an ancient sea-floor.

 

So it appears life was underway at least within 700 million years of the formation of the Earth (4.5 billions years ago). To-date these are actually the oldest sedimentary rocks yet discovered and the most ancient surface rocks on the planet. Maybe life had an even earlier foothold on the planet but the traces have long since been wiped out.

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IIRC the evidence for life within the Isua sediments are weak or at least debated. To argue that life was at least around at that time point is a bit premature. Based on current knowledge putting life around 3.4-3.5 Gyrs is a more conservative bet. But as it has been remarked multiple times already, without knowledge of mechanisms or other details it is impossible to estimate whether 500, 700 mio or more would be considered a long or a short time frame.

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IIRC the evidence for life within the Isua sediments are weak or at least debated. To argue that life was at least around at that time point is a bit premature. Based on current knowledge putting life around 3.4-3.5 Gyrs is a more conservative bet. But as it has been remarked multiple times already, without knowledge of mechanisms or other details it is impossible to estimate whether 500, 700 mio or more would be considered a long or a short time frame.

 

Nevertheless that is a remarkably short period of time to form out of the primordial material and soup of the young hot earth

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Nevertheless that is a remarkably short period of time to form out of the primordial material and soup of the young hot earth

 

 

To attempt to explain by analogy - is 2 minutes a long or short time to roll a 6 on a die if you don't know how many dice I have or how many times per minute I am rolling them?

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If you think about it from a molecular perspective, several hundred million years is a hell of a long time. Chemical reactions often occur at extremely rapid rates. Just think about how many reactions are going on in your body right now. Once those first molecules started hitting on the sequence that leads to life, it could have happened very rapidly.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

Based on what?

A dispassionate examination of the evidence. Life apparently evolved in the space of 100 to 300 million years. Yet it took a further 1.5 billion years to move from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. The difference in complexity between non-life and life is greater than that between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

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A dispassionate examination of the evidence. Life apparently evolved in the space of 100 to 300 million years. Yet it took a further 1.5 billion years to move from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. The difference in complexity between non-life and life is greater than that between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

 

If we take a dispassionate examination of the evidence....

 

Its not a simple matter of 1.5 billion years for prokaryotes to evolve to eukaryotes. The prokaryote precursors of eukaryotes would be many times more complex than the very first life forms. In fact, it is probably not reasonable in any fashion to compare the early life forms to our modern conception of prokaryotes. Much of that 1.5 billion years would have involved the evolution of various biochemical pathways and other complexities that were necessary to even sustain a eukaryotic organism. Along the way, there would have been many catastrophes and other environmental setbacks. Eukaryotes may have even evolved earlier, been wiped out, and evolved again before landing on the ancestral population that gave rise to us.

 

There are also many factors that probably slowed down evolution. With increasing complexity, there is a lot more that can go wrong and as a result, the evolution of life gets funneled into a narrow path which restricts what is viable and possible. Especially as life developed the proteins to repair DNA damage and maintain the fidelity of the hereditary material, the number of mutations themselves would decrease, slowing evolution. Also, as the reproduction of life begin to be delayed by intermissions of growth and development, you will necessarily have lower rates of mutation. A pool of chemicals can undergo billions of reactions in a very short period of time, while within the context of an organism, those reactions are now restricted, regulated, and ultimately the process will be slowed.

 

Consider the reproductive ability of elephants to that of e. coli....

 

So taking a dispassionate examination of the evidence and facts....why shouldn't we expect it to take longer?

 

Secondly, how do you know the difference between non-life and life is greater than that of prokaryotes and eukaryotes? We really know nothing about how life originated and that division could be very small indeed.

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If we take a dispassionate examination of the evidence....

 

Eukaryotes may have even evolved earlier, been wiped out, and evolved again before landing on the ancestral population that gave rise to us.

 

 

 

 

 

Umm...No, nothing will evolve twice, another type of cell capable of evolving into complex life forms might evolve but it would not be an eukaryote...

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Umm...No, nothing will evolve twice, another type of cell capable of evolving into complex life forms might evolve but it would not be an eukaryote...

 

What do you mean nothing will evolve twice? There are many cases of the same adaptations evolving independently and even the same mutations arising independently. Lactose tolerance evolved at least twice in humans independently, in both cases resulting in the activation of lactase in adulthood. Convergent evolution is very widespread. I once did two separate mutant screens, separated by about 4 years and in two different lines and obtained the exact same mutation in both.

 

Eukaryotes are defined as a nucleus and other membrane enclosed structures. There is no reason why this could not have evolved multiple times in an act of convergent evolution. The endosymbiosis of plastids appears to have happened multiple times.

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What do you mean nothing will evolve twice? There are many cases of the same adaptations evolving independently and even the same mutations arising independently. Lactose tolerance evolved at least twice in humans independently, in both cases resulting in the activation of lactase in adulthood. Convergent evolution is very widespread. I once did two separate mutant screens, separated by about 4 years and in two different lines and obtained the exact same mutation in both.

 

Eukaryotes are defined as a nucleus and other membrane enclosed structures. There is no reason why this could not have evolved multiple times in an act of convergent evolution. The endosymbiosis of plastids appears to have happened multiple times.

 

 

Not the same thing, like I said, you might get an organism that could evolve into complex life but it could not be a eukaryote. It would not be an eukaryote any more than a plesiosaur is a dolphin...

It might be similar in many ways but it would not be the same thing..

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