>In the meantime, the experiment stands as proof that evolution does not always lead to the best possible outcome.
Wow, the author forgot something critical--there are no time constraints in this statement. It is as though the author tried a diet for a day and decided the diet did not lead to weight loss.
In any case, score one for science.
The only thing that makes this interesting is the length of the experiment, and how it clearly illustrates a basic principle of evolution that the creationists say is impossible.
(Also, iirc, Lenski is one of the experts who testified at the Dover trial....)
Evolution is a fact, there is natural selection, certain offshoots of species die out (fail to adapt), etc. But the really curious thing is that we can't point out and say hey yeah evolution is happening over there too.
Here's a more concrete example. Consider the odds of rolling a 528 on a 1000 sided die, and you have 5 people rolling such a die. The expected number of rolls for any individual to get a 528 is 1/1000 + 2 * 999/1000^2 + 3 * 999^2/1000^3 + ... = 1000. However, the probability that at least one person has rolled a 528 passes 50% after n rolls, where (999/1000)^(5n) = .5, or n = log(.5)/(5log(.999)) = 139.
In other words, you expect to have rolled a 528 after 1000 rolls on average, but you expect somebody to have rolled one after 139.
Chance you evolved in a universe you observe: 100%
Chance you evolved in a universe you dont: 0%
Given: I exist.
Therefore, from clear first principles, I should judge as 100% the chance of DNA evolving. I dont get how any conscious being could even concieve that percentage as less then 100.
As the article explains: rerunning everything in a near-identical situation does not mean the same events happen. So based on the fact that something has happened once doesn't let you say anything about the chance of it happening.
No you misunderstand the level I am speaking to.
I know I exist before I know anything else. A prerequisite for existence is DNA, because DNA underlies the process that underlies consciousness.
I'm not saying rerunning everything in a near identical situation would cause it to happen the same way. I'm not saying anything at all like that. I'm saying, for anyone with consciousness (which requires DNA), immediately, from I exist, and existence requires DNA, we should judge there is a hundred percent chance there is evolving DNA. The math that suggests otherwise is true enough, but the argument that the math gives the actual odds is flawed.
It's just a sort of meta question about how being conscious and it's implications should impact the value we assign to the mathematical truths. The mathematician should say "To my necessarily incomplete formal system, the chance is low, but because I have direct evidence I am conscious, and this consciousness requires DNA, I have other, prior evidence that the chance is extremely high." I'm not denying the math, I'm pointing out that it's not the whole story in addressing questions like how DNA evolved.
Eventually, after billions of years with trillions of petri dishes worth of different little evolution experiments all happening in parallel on each of billions of planets, some of them gain replication mechanisms that are complex enough that they could be considered alive.
Evolution leads up to this point, and continues after it.