Dear American Scientist: I Disagree!

Why no posts recently? That will be explained in a different post.

For now, I share my comments on this piece in American Scientist. Because when you’re this much of a jackass, you don’t confine it.

BTW: I only read up to the premise of the argument, so there isn’t much heavy lifting on the other side of the above link. After that I read another page (so you don’t have to) to make sure I properly addressed the topic.


And I’m right.


“Given the right ingredients, a biologist might be able to assemble a living cell without fully understanding all the details of how the parts interact.”

Yeah all that’s been done. Scientists create a soup of amino acids in water, throw an atmosphere of certain gasses atop it, and kapow!

Here, fer’instance, is how RNA made itself in 2009. Ahem! 2009!

“The computer programmer, however, must describe every molecular event.”

Not since computer programming quit using the LOGIC programming language. Know how algorithms are going to eat everyone’s children? Other magazines, this month? Well, they allow a program to be inspired, to imagine…

Wait. All I wanted to do is say current programming (rithm-free, even) allows for conditionals ad infinitum. And so: If amino acid A is in (inf. var.) to amino acid IV, the two IV to IV resulting in IV like it’s your birthday. Which itself results in IV…

See then?

That is, any given laptop can compute anything computable. Just wait a while (forever). Turing knew this in 1960, designing his namesake machine with pen and paper. See Wikipedia, Turing Machine.

Which is to say: Noting that biological processes are incredibly complex is… correct. The catch being that, unless infinitely complex and, therefore, making your argument a reduction to the absurd, here’s the thing:

Computers can do it. The Original Turing Machine (nevermind the Quantum Turing) can do it, too, if you’ve got the paper.

POINT BEING! Organic chem has recreated the conditions of a young earth in the lab — many variants many ways — and life is here there everywhere. Dunno how one misses that stuff.

And computer science… Unless you invalidate your own argument, give a TM enough tape and enough time and even it will give you all possible results of all possible reactions. Or, for your needs, millions etc.

Had a Turing Machine started the enterprise in 1960-ish, it could be finishing up now…

FINAL POINT! You’re way way way off on computational abilities.



PS: I didn’t see the point in reading past Web page two-ish, since your fundamental argument seems to proven wholly wrongheaded.

If I missed anything, I’ll be sure to add your comments to my blog.

BONUS FOR BLOG-READERS: Turing, prior to knowing everything about computers the second an idea of one was formed, invented The Bombe during WWII. The “e” on his Bombe may as well be for the Nazis’ Enigma cipher, which it decrypted.

Most underrated guy in history, I swear. Due in no small part to the fact Britain thanked him for his service, which saved a lot of lives the people who had them very much valued at the time, by charging and convicting him of homosexuality some time later (unrelated, just asshole-ery). I suppose this made him improper for hero worship, or mentionable in polite conversation.

To my knowledge, Britain hasn’t issued a pardon, to this day.