Skip to comments.How Quantum Physics Can Teach Biologists About Evolution
Posted on 07/06/2005 6:51:06 PM PDT by infocats
In the fall of 1900, a young German physicist, Max Planck, began making calculations about the glow emitted by objects heated to high temperature. In retrospect, it seems like a small-bore problem, just the task to give a young scientist at the beginning of his career.
But if the question sounds minor, Planck's answer was not. His work led him to discover a new world, the bizarre realm of quantum mechanics, where matter is both a particle and a wave and where the predictable stability of Newton gives way to probabilistic uncertainty.
As Dennis Overbye of The New York Times once put it in these pages, Planck had grasped "a loose thread that when tugged would eventually unravel the entire fabric of what had passed for reality."
Physicists reeled. But physics survived. And once they got over their shock, scientists began testing Planck's ideas with observation and experiment, work that eventually produced computer chips, lasers, CAT scans and a host of other useful technologies - all made possible through our new understanding of the way the world works.
Biologists might do well to keep Planck in mind as they confront creationism and "intelligent design" and battle to preserve the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Usually, when confronting the opponents of evolution, biologists make the case that evolution should be taught because it is true.
They cite radiocarbon dating to show that Earth is billions of years old, not a few thousand years old, as some creationists would have it. Biologists cite research on microbes, or the eye, or the biology of the cell to shoot down arguments that life is so "irreducibly complex" that only a supernatural force or agent could have called it into being, as intelligent designers would have it.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
What frosts me is how creationism is always, always, defined in the Christian terms of a 6,000 year old universe.
People, there are other religions and therefore other thoughts and theories on creationism with much different time frames. For example the Vedas teach that time is cyclical, with the outer cycle existing 311,040,000,000,000 years, which is also the age of the universe.
Let me guess. The NYTimes published this to make the anti-evolutionists look bad.
It doesn't take the NYTimes to do that.
Sheesh. As the old saying goes, "the first requirement of dog training is to make sure that you know more than the dog"...
Don't forget the Scientologists who believe that we are the product of 75 million years of evolution after aliens mated with monkeys.
Hare Krishna websites ?????
I doubt the laws of quantum mechanics and the process of deriving them can be related to anything else outside physics without considerable stretch. Especially biology.
The "Punctuated Equilibrium" hypothesis is fundamentally inconsistent with the theory of evolution which requires movement of specie development in minute increments.
The principal problem with the theory of evolution is the absence of any single fossel supported record which is consistent with the theory under circumstances where many such fossel records should be found. Hence Punctuated Equilibrium--it happened in sudden giant steps. That sounds a lot more like God than it sounds like Darwin.
As far as the time argument is concerned, the dating mechanism depends on a clock calculated by the decay rate of Carbon 14--there is not only no evidence that the decay rate of Carbon 14 has been constant throughout the ages; there is a fair body of evidence that it has not. If not, the clock is wrong and we have no idea how long the ages are.
Funny you mention the Krishnas. I was down at the Capitol for the festivities on the 4'th, and the Krishnas had a set of pavilions and such set up on the Mall before the show began in the evening - one of their more prominent displays was their version of a refutation of evolution. Not too far from that, there was also a large display inviting one to consider the "science of reincarnation" ;)
Am I supposed to ping the list for this goofy article?
[the various inaccuracies such as "They cite radiocarbon dating to show that Earth is billions of years old, not a few thousand years old...]
Anyone with a background in physics (or any other science) can read ANY science or technology story disseminated by the standard media outlets and just laugh and laugh and laugh at the gross misunderstandings journalists have about the subject.
Even the "science correspondents" are horribly incompetent at reporting science.
As someone pointed out, the author doesn't quite understand radiocarbon dating. FWIW, Google tells me that the author is the science editor of the NYT. It's your call, but "goofy" seems to capture it pretty well :)
[...there is not only no evidence that the decay rate of Carbon 14 has been constant throughout the ages; there is a fair body of evidence that it has not.]
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