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Scientists Say that Darwin’s theory of Evolution needs an Update

Their contention is based on discoveries that all plants and animals, including humans, evolved in interaction with a huge number of microscopic species

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Test tubes filled with samples of bacteria
FILE - Test tubes filled with samples of bacteria to be tested are seen at the Health Protection Agency in north London. VOA
  • For centuries, mythologies around the world used the so-called tree of life as a metaphor for diversity stemming from a single source
  • Scientists say an updated view on symbiomes could have a profound effect not only on biology but also on many areas of science, including technology and even on society

June 19, 2017: Scientists from several U.S. and Chinese universities say new findings of microbes and their interaction with other species show that Darwin’s theory of evolution needs an update.

Their contention is based on discoveries that all plants and animals, including humans, evolved in interaction with a huge number of microscopic species — bacteria, viruses and fungi — not only in harmful but also in beneficial ways.

ALSO READ: Soil Erosion: Scientists discover Earliest Human Impact on Environment

In a paper published by the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, scientists from the University of Colorado, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, and several other universities say Darwin’s tree of life fails to recognize that many forms of life are linked physically and evolved together in so-called symbiomes.

The authors propose creating a working group that would use advanced computational methods to create a multidimensional evolutionary tree describing our complex interaction with microbes.

For centuries, mythologies around the world used the so-called tree of life as a metaphor for diversity stemming from a single source.

In 1859, Charles Darwin used the same concept to explain his theory of evolution, depicting it as a two-dimensional tree with individual species evolving independently of other branches.

Scientists say an updated view on symbiomes could have a profound effect not only on biology but also on many areas of science, including technology and even on society. (VOA)

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Biologists unlock 51.7 million year old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory

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Primula allionii. Wikimedia.

December 6, 2016: A 51.7 million-year-old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory proposed more than 150 years ago has been unlocked by scientists. The genes responsible for the reproductive traits in the Primula flower have been recognized by researchers.

Darwin suggested that certain plant species having two distinct forms of flowers, with the male and female reproductive parts of different lengths evolved in a way to perform out-crossing by insect pollinators.

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Darwin’s pioneering insight into the importance of the forms of flower called ‘pins’ and ‘thrums’ conceived the term ‘heterostyly’ and succeeding research added up to formulate the modern genetic theory.

The particular part of the species’ genetic code which defined them was identified by scientists at University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK. It was the result of an event which occurred more than 51 million years ago.

According to PTI, Professor Philip Gilmartin from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences said, “To identify the genes which control the biology noted by Darwin is an exciting moment. Many studies have been done over the past decades to explore the genetic basis of this phenomenon but now we have pinpointed the supergene directly responsible, the S locus”.

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Congregations of closely linked genes inherited as a unit together and allow the control of complex microbiology are called supergenes. The researchers worked in association with Earlham Institute in the UK to plot the Primula’s genes and sequence its genome to find the gene cluster responsible for the different flower morphs.

Gilmartin tells, “Understanding of the genetics which underpin flower development and reproduction of a species broadens our knowledge about the entire system of pollination, which underpins biodiversity and food security”.

He also said that with challenges like climatic changes and its effects on plant life and their insect pollinators, it is imperative for us to understand the mechanisms for pollination and how the species react.

Amidst the search for the controlling gene responsible for heterostyly, the researchers dated the initial mutation to 51.7 million years ago.

On finding the S locus, the researchers realized that the gene was a close relative to another one identified six years ago which is responsible for controlling the petals’ identity on a Primula flower.

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At some point, the duplication of the gene occurred and the gene entered itself in the S locus and mutated to take control over the positioning of the anther in the flower. The Nature Plants journal published the study.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram with PTI inputs. Twitter:@Shivam_Thaker.

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Consciousness: The crucial missing link between Western education and Vedic learning

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By Gaurav Sharma

Albert Einstein once said, “Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything one learned in school.” The statement made by one of the greatest minds in the world, is a stark derision of the education system, especially as it is propounded in schools today.

Most people believe the purpose of education is to provide employment, propagate knowledge and eventually lead to the progress of civilized society.

While no one can deny that education guarantees us a place in society, in the sense of providing us with a job, does that encompass the all-in-all of knowledge? And is progress limited to mere economic and social development?

The modern education system which has its roots in the Imperial days, would have us believe so. The anglicized education system introduced, was meant to generate a class of people who would serve the British in running the administration.

Sadly, 68 years after the ousting of the British, the fangs of slavery are yet to be quashed. In school, the young impressionable minds are ingrained with certain ideas and notions that are deemed as basic ‘facts of life’.

Consequently, when the child comes out of school, his way of looking at the world is usually centered around the tenents of certain theories labelled as ‘science’. One such theory which is supported by a range of biologists and scientists, and is gaining popularity amongst the younger generation is Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

In his book, Origin of Species, Darwin, proclaims that all species have descended over time from common ancestors, evolving through a process known as natural selection.

Natural selection basically refers to the variation that exist in the population of organisms. This variation is attributed to “random mutations” that arise in the genes of the individual, in interaction with the environment.

The claim that life evolved through random mutations, has significant implications. This thesis  reduces life to a mere bag of chemicals. As a corollary, this means that life, verily, has no purpose behind it. We are a product of matter, a combination but only of the X and Y chromosome.

A natural consequence of such an atheistic theory is the proposition of survival of the fittest. In other words you either adapt or die.

When a person comes under the warp of such a bleak and gloomy outlook, it inevitably means he feels justified in being crude towards other human beings, what to say of slaughtering animals for the satisfaction of the tongue.

Subconsciously, a pattern is drawn which makes one feel separate and distinct from other living entities. When such a sense of separateness pervades the mind, it leads to the hedonistic attitude that is prevalent in the society.

Basic moral practices such as compassion, love, tolerance, respect are reduced to bare precepts formulated by some  non-existent entity.

Bodily necessities take precedence over other subtle realities. When bodily necessities assume paramount importance, existence is limited to survival and enjoyment. Questioning is shunned to the background of clouded thoughts.

This begs the question:

Is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, The Explanation?

Besides the immense damage that the theory of evolution has wreaked on the psyche as well as the functioning of society, it also suffers from several loopholes. In the midst of the scientific view that every action has a reason or a cause behind it, how can existence crop up virtually from nowhere? (the design argument)

It is tantamount to saying that an apple falls from the tree without the existence of gravitational force.

Secondly, it is quite absurd to state that Nature which operates on a set of physical principles does not possess the necessary control in making and implementing decisions. (the intelligence argument)

The most fundamental flaw that lies behind Darwin’s conception is the failure to explain the myriad differences between individuals of the same species, especially in the light of proposition that they are simultaneously generated and, therefore, should be identical in all respects.

More importantly, mere physical changes can hardly be a logical explanation for the attainment of complex states of mind.

A Vedic Alternative

The Vedas expound an explanation for evolution which is consistent with the laws of physical science.

Evolution cannot exist without an involution. This means that the attributes of evolution already lie dormant within the evolving entity. They manifest when the conditions become favourable. Thus, life is already involved in matter. In plain words, Life comes from Life.

This discovery comes in the form of a simple yet profound aphorism: a tree already exists within the seed. This is in compliance with the laws of conservation of mass and energy, that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed, it can only be transformed from one form to another.

Moreover, the theory of rebirth lends credence to the existence of different living entities belonging to the same species. According to this theory, a living entity can take a higher form  when the lower form is no longer suitable for its evolution. This has been upheld by notable psychologists and cannot be rubbished as mere superstition.

It can also be empirically confirmed that Vedic injunctions could indeed help in formation of ethics and character, the main import of real education.

The proverbs of Chanakya Pandita are pertinent in this regard.

Matrvat para-daresu: This means viewing every woman except the wife as one’s mother. Such a thought would naturally stem the flow of sexual violence inundating the present day and age.

Atmavat sarva-bhutesu: This maxim entails looking at every living being as oneself. If everyone follows this doctrine, there is no question of treating others inhumanely or ‘justly’. Everyone would be treated as one would treat himself/herself.

Nowadays, a lot fights happen over property. Chanakya’s view on property also hold universal application. He said one should look at others property as stones or garbage on the street.

Although, such moral precepts might seem too strict for the modern man to follow, towing the line with such principles, can result in more peaceful, co-existent and happy society.

And, herein lies the crucial missing link between the modern education of the west and the now relegated-to-the-fringe-Vedic-education: consciousness.

The goals of life,as per the Vedas, included right action(dharma), fulfilling need and wants(kama) and economic development(artha). Engagement in the cycle of such fruitive actions was only a preparation towards the ultimate aim of moksha or liberation.

The current education system focuses only the aspect of economic development. Words such as morality and compassion have withered away. Liberation is projected as the sole prerogative of sadhus or monks. Mostly, such knowledge has been outcasted from the mental and physical reach of the public. One either has to go to some ashram or to some religious organisation for studying the enlivening Vedic texts.

This education system is formulated by political leaders in cahoots with the technocrats, the industrialists and the scientists. Such people are mostly interested in minting money and are personally motivated. Naturally, they lack wisdom, philosophical insight and depth of knowledge to guide themselves, what to say of the society.

When materialistic pursuits and ambition become the crux of the education system, it invariably forebodes tension within the ‘created’ social groups and wars between ‘pieces of land’ marked as countries.

Therefore, the root of the present education system lies in not understanding the basic purpose of education. The principles that are governing education are highly questionable, especially because they splinter us into different fractions.

In this regard, the knowledge propounded by the Vedic literature hold much significance for society. It is a timeless wisdom beyond sectarian boundaries and dogmas, which cannot be appropriated by any particular group. (even as the Hindus try to).

Such knowledge cuts through political, geographical, social, cultural, economic and national barriers because all living beings, at their core, are essentially the same.

The Vedic proclamation: Aham Brahmamsi ( I am Brahman) is the king of all education because such realisation is capable of uniting us, instead of widening our differences.

The most question, therefore, is, where is such knowledge available? Some obscure place that is definitely not our school.