One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)
Monday, November 28, 2011
PCB-Model of evolution (continued)
I. Relative evolution:
Evolution is the study of a natural phenomenon that is started by big bang and will continue to proceed on. So it is the study natural history (past), present as well as future. One of the key principles that evolution rest on heavily is principle of uniformitarianism that was presented by James Hutton. Geological formations, rocks as well as fossils are reconstructed based on the principle of uniformiterianism. Principle of uniformitarianism states, “Present is key to the past”. This means the present physical, chemical and biological laws were uniform throughout the past. Hence this principle becomes a very useful tool in interpreting, rocks and fossils and reconstructing past environments by observations of modern oceans, lakes, rivers, deserts, mountain chains, plains, deserts, glaciers, atmospheres, minerals, nutrients, atmospheric, hydrological cycles, life forms and their interactions.
Despite the usefulness of this principle we see the limitations in applications of this principle. For example, the earlier environment of earth had a different atmosphere, where there was no ozone layer and free oxygen. The crust of earth was very different from present time by lacking major mountain chains, thick sedimentary sequences and crust was new and thinner and hence more volcanisms and more active tectonic processes. Landscapes were very different lacking forests, animal life and hence rivers, lakes and oceans had different processes and compositions perhaps more acidic by dissolving a lot of Carbon dioxide and less saline. Atmospheric processes were very different as earth was much warmer with a different atmospheric composition.
Later on after atmosphere become oxygen rich and ozone layer covers the earth again the processes were not same. Absence of trees, animals on land and thinner sedimentary layers were making environments very different from present processes we are familiar. Besides throughout the geological times the plate tectonics were changing the face of the earth by creating new oceans and closing older ones, making supercontinents and then separating them, moving the landscapes in the different longitudes and latitudes.
So as we are close to present time the processes become closer to modern environment and as we go back in time the processes becomes less and lesser matched with present environments. Hence we can say, “Principle of uniformitarianism is a relative process that works well when we keep in mind the relativity of the processes to evolutions of crusts, oceans, atmosphere and life forms on the earth”.
After passing more than a century when Einstein presented the theory of relativity but evolutionary concept is barren to this important concept in modern physics that revolutionized all disciplines. When we stretch back the evolution into stellar evolution and than in cosmic evolution we see that principle of uniformiterianism fades out its application. But if we join the relativity to it by developing a “Principle of relative uniformitarianism” than all this principle becomes an effective tool in interpreting the past. Then we have to restate this principle by saying, “Present physical, chemical and biological laws remained constant and will remain constant relative to evolutionary processes.”
If we go back to first definition, “present is key to past” then according the principle of relative uniformitarianism it can also be described in the traditional manner, “Present is key to future”. It looks hard in perspective of traditional uniformiterianism but relative evolution makes it workable as it also includes man-made technological evolution as a next stage to biological evolution. As once absence of trees and organisms on land were making land processes different relative to modern environment so the introduction of man-made technologies will change the future environment and play a key role in biological evolution.
Let’s look to a few examples that is generally known and have already changed the rates of evolutions and extinctions,
1- Domestications of certain animals and plants that is generally known as artificial selection. It is not artificial selection but a next stage of evolution. Men like other organisms are natural. As dams made by Beavers, Nest made by birds, Burrows made insects and some vertebrates like reptiles are natural so the activities of men. Domestications of animals, plants and their farming have changed the diversity and populations of animals and plants to an unbelievable rate in terms of biological evolution.
2- Use of modern machinery in deforestations, constructions and hunting of organisms both on land and oceans has extricated several species. It is man-made extinctions. Does it provide a clue on the role of the earlier organisms in earlier extinctions?
3- Modern industries, their products and consumptions have polluted the lands, soils, water bodies and atmosphere. These pollutants not only affected the cycles of these elements and compounds but also has affected the life forms both animals and plants.
4- Genetic engineering, stem cells, cloning, artificial organs have already shown their potential in their capabilities in changing life styles and perhaps life forms.
5- Progress in man-made technologies not only have changed the physical activities of men but also diets, so it has introduced new diseases and also change the general appearances of men and women (more obese, ,early puberty perhaps under effects of hormones used in farming of animals).
Still space biology is an unexplored field. We can’t predict about the nature of future discoveries, innovations and engineering. Certainly new discoveries and innovations will affect the future environments and they will determine the future of evolution. But they would abide the physical, chemical and biological laws that govern in present in addition of new laws that may emerge just like by evolution of organisms biological laws emerged that weren’t existed.
II. Calculated evolution:
All physical, chemical and biological processes that effect life are quantified then evolution is also quantified. It makes the mechanisms that drive evolution more definable and understandable. Despite just saying adaptations and natural selections to escape the real mechanisms, quantifying evolution enable us to make use of it in solving our problems that we are facing. Let’s restate the evolution in the context the current problems that human is facing, “Biological evolution is the study of solutions of life in colonizing the sources of energy”.
The study of both extinct organisms (fossils) and extant organisms are evident of the solution of nature in colonizing different environments from cold, to warm, dry to wet, from highland to air to deep oceans to jungles, to fighting predators to parasites.
Besides movements, designs of body structures in response to gravity and body structures to take the advantages of winds, buoyancy and flow.
Let’s takes a few current problems that we face and nature have solved them in past,
1- We are converting petroleum products into plastic materials and plastics have very slow rate of decomposition. Recycling is not the ultimate solutions. In geological times we know the spikes of fungi as a result of mass killings. Nature has evolved decomposers like fungi and bacteria to decompose the dead to keep energy sources in reach. We need to learn and understand the natures of decomposing power to solve the depleted the fossil fuels and their polluting problems.
2- We are depleting the fresh water sources, and life forms in forests, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, plains etc. Nature has evolved integrated systems in which food chains, endemic speciation and seasonal succession show the balance and responses of organisms to changes in their environments. We are learning from ecological studies and closed systems in aquacultures and agricultures like recirculatory aquaculture systems, aquaponics and hydroponics are some recent moves that we made by using knowledge of ecosystems to integrate natural environments in our lives or cities and preserve the nature and natural resources that sustain our lives on earth.
3- The first response of organisms to changes in their environments is behavioral changes. The behavioral change translates into physiological changes. This is known as phenotypic plasticity. Physiological changes may translate into anatomical changes and slowly change the genetic makeup and results in emergence of new species. It may be gradual due to gradual changes in environments over long time periods and or it may be quick in terms of geological times by sudden change in environments like bolloide impact or an ocean turnover.
Scientific investigations are changing our behaviors and it is the start of solutions that we have learnt from natural solutions. The digital-homo sapiens need to evolve into a new species that is eco-homo sapiens. The increasing consciousness about environment changes and our efforts in developing technological solutions and more environmental friendly practices is a behavior to stresses that we are getting from our environments.