Thursday, April 28, 2005
Evolution and Alchemy
That general idea, coupled with a few fraudulent examples of it happening, kept the fires of alchemy burning for long after it should have died out. But, again, it made sense -- they had no reason to think that the changes available by chemical means were limitted.
This is almost the same situation in biology. Change has been observed in living beings (and in fact had been observed LONG before evolution or even aristotelian biology), but not the kinds of change required to fully rewrite the way an organism works. While there is quite a lot of variation available even within a single population, ultimately there is not the ability for transformations between life forms no matter how much time you had.
Mendel's work actually showed this experimentally (and his paper said as much), but this has been widely ignored. It was assumed that mutations solved this dilemma, but the kinds of mutations normally observed do not add up to the power needed to do the necessary transformations in any amount of time.