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JSmith

"...humans have redirected evolution all over the place..."

We do that with germs too - see "antibiotic-resistant infection".

"Zeus had sex with them, namely, he gave them at least some pleasure."

Zeus was a rapist.

"Let's stick to breeding, OK?"

OKAAAY!!

"I have chickens. They are tiny Tyrannosauri Rex."

How can anyone possibly look at a baby bird of any species and not say "That thing is a dinosaur!"

"Going back to that primal soupcon seas of ancient times, all organisms were trying to 'eat' or 'invade' all others."

Which led to the biggest "mutation" of them all - the mitochondria in eukaryotic cells. That happened when a single-celled bacterium was endocytosed (engulfed) by another bacterium, and stayed around, later becoming the primary energy source for eukaryotes (like you, me, and DeVaul.) Good quote: "Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking." More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endosymbiotic_theory

"Ever live with someone like myself?"

Oh, dear God, no.

An interesting post today, Elaine. Thank you.


larry, dfh

My wife works for an RNA-i outfit. The big problem for all these potential therapies right now is "delivery"; getting the synthetic RNA to the 'target site'. The same reasons that RNA is a transitory entitiy in the cell, and mechanisms exist to destroy foreign poly-nucleotides make the therapies tricky.
I had a former boss who used to describe viruses as: little pieces of life that wrap themselves in 'you' and escape. Often people anthropomorphize viruses, which aren't technically alive. They say they are 'smart' because of their infective abilities (sneezes, etc.). I think a better approach is one using mathematics and probabilities: what is the probability that we will see this thing again if such an event happens.
One of the most interesting benefits from the gene sequencing has been done on sea water. The classic methods involved culturing a pure organism before analyzing. Now all the genetic material in a sample can be analyzed, regardless of whether the organism whose material was sequenced can actually be grown. Turns out many, many interesting organisms cannot be cultured. Whole new chemical pathways and mechanisms have been opened up by this, including alternative photosynthetic pathways.
As an organic chemist, I have admired for years the chemical ability of fungi, and other micro-organisms. Under chemical challenge, say, an herbicide, or some other material present to inhibit them, they will muster their enzymic abilities so that the end result will be that an enzyme which originally carried on one function, will be changed slightly to perform a totally different role. But as you mentioned in your "rift" pieces, this in only under pressure.
Yeah, I'm sure you're a pain-in-the-ass to live with, but the best is seldom cheapest. Maybe you can explain: I seem to remember better than my wife, she calls me the "thinking machine', yet she's always right.

larry, dfh

And don't forget the chloroplast, which is the green-plant equivalent of the mitochondrion. They may be derived in similar ways.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Larry, women are always right because we have cute sex organs that even gods cannot resist. Heh. As Pegasus likes to say, 'Be nice to the Graces or they will become the Furies.'


And I am fascinated by what you say about the fungi's ability to change the functions of enzymes. All the 'primitive' creatures also have genetic material that is easily 'exchanged' and modified which is why they don't take long to mutate if under pressure of some sort.


And thanks for reading this blog, Larry. I appreciate the insights.

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