Code as an Analogy of DNA?


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #142

Great start. Keep on going. A good biologist would be able to rattle off dozens of differences in a minute. We would also be able to explain how these differences lead to important disanalogies that cannot be neglected.

(Dale Cutler) #143

I’m not a ‘good biologist’, and even if I were, I don’t think I would see this as a worthwhile exercise.

(Mikkel R.) #144

So would listing similarities be a worthwhile exercise then?

(Dale Cutler) #145

That was my point: not especially. They would be just broad brushstrokes.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #146

If you see no value in articulating the similarities or the differences between two things, why do you even try and make the analogy? Why not just study biology on its own terms then?

(Dale Cutler) #147

I understand that you don’t like the analogy.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #148

I like the analogy just fine, as long as we know when it breaks down.

(Dale Cutler) #149

I have no reason to push it until it breaks.

(Dale Cutler) #150

What do you like about it?

(Dan Eastwood) #151

What about knowledge? If you can break the analogy, there is more to be learned.

Anything (well, almost) can be encoded digitally, but not everything with digits is a code. Humans can encode things digitally, I think we all agree on that aspect. DNA looks like a digital code but it does not function anything like a man made code. DNA does not decode into a movie or instructions for a CNC machine; a better analogy is that it decodes into a movie-actor or parts for a machine. “Digital” is irrelevant to the description of how DNA functions.

(Dale Cutler) #152

My ET would still call it code in his language. Okay, I’m willing to say it functions like a God-made code.

It can decode into movies, as well.

(Dale Cutler) #153

Okay, lets break the factory analogy and see what we learn. As I said earlier, I’m not a ‘good biologist’, but I’m willing to start.

Starting with similarities, the lipid bilayer membrane is like a factory wall.

(Dale Cutler) #154

(I can imagine a factory with flexible walls.)

@Dan_Eastwood: Your turn (or anyone else who wants to play) – I have to wait for someone else to post before I can again.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #155

You know that the papers you cited use DNA different then life does, right? You also know that ET would not actually see examples of this use of DNA on earth right?

I hope you are joking because this line of reasoning is jumping the shark.

(Dan Eastwood) #156

Only with previous human encoding, which we already agree on. The analogy fails because movies or other recognizable media do not naturally occur in DNA. We might assemble Tom Cruise from DNA, but not the next Mission Impossible movie.

Quoting the original analogy for reference.

Pro: the lipid bilayer membrane is like a factory wall.
Con: factories do not require walls. For example, housing factories that rapidly assemble houses in a new community development. I would agree that factories can build walls.

New: factories bulid objects for use or sale externally. Eukaryotic cells primarily produce only more eukaryotic cells.

Dale’s turn.

(Dale Cutler) #157

That is hardly ‘breaking the analogy’.

And cells don’t produce any products that are used external to the cell. Right. Well, I guess you’re not a ‘good biologist’ either.

(Dale Cutler) #158

A dissimilarity it that it doesn’t have machined hardware, but it does have hardware and machines. An without too much of a stretch, we could say it does have machined hardware, because there are additive and subtractive processes.

(Dale Cutler) #159

The point is not what the code is used for or how the code is transcribed. The point is, it’s code.

(Timothy Horton) #160

There is more than one definition of code. What definition are you using for DNA?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #161

You have failed to make your point. The code used in those papers is different than the genetic code.