What does it mean to have Random Mutations?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by 786, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    I have a basically simple question. The major source of variation is mutation, which is random, Natural Selection only "selects" these mutations. The other process such as genetic drift are also random.

    My question was when you read this- how do you understand this?

    Does random (mutation, genetic drift, etc..) in this context means that it just happened to have happened (chance) this way, and that it wasn't purposefully caused?
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
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  3. Enmos Staff Member

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    Yes.
     
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  5. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    Do others agree with "yes"?
     
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  7. kurros Registered Senior Member

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    In the context of your other thread I hope you are at least inquiring about what it really means for something to happen "by chance". I would think it pretty clear just from the name that at the superficial level "random" implies something that is not controlled by some external force, thus if your question is this superficial it is a bit pointless.

    I am actually quite curious about what the major randomising forces involved in genetic mutation are, although I guess there are a great many factors.
     
  8. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    I'm only surveying what "people understand" when they look at scientific statements such as "random mutations". This wasn't pointless, it was only a thread to see how people understand this concept. We've already dealt with the depth in the other thread.

    As you can see from the other thread I am being forced to show that people understand "random" this way, which to me is obviously how they "understand" it. So I'm asking people directly, how they understand the idea of random mutation, and what it means to them as an event in history.

    Actually my question is not superficial. My question is simply about how people normally understand this concept, and I contend almost everyone understands it in a superficial manner.

    This question is only a survey to see how people understand when they see 'random' mutations.
     
  9. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    It looks more like a thread in which you need someone to explain that which you misunderstand.
     
  10. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    No it is to show that people do understand "random" this way, so that those who are making claims otherwise are only doing so to protect themselves from answering the real question. Enmos said "yes", maybe I forced him to say it

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  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Mutations are unpredictable, but they may happen as a result of cosmic rays that could have some kind of pattern to them. Other mutagens are different kinds of radiation and food sources, so there may be circumstances that increase or decrease mutation.
     
  12. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    Your way or the defined way?
     
  13. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    It is not "my" way. The real defined method in science is the "mathematical" random (which is also obscure) but no one understands science in this regards, random is chance that is how we understand, certainly that is how Richard Dawkins and anyone or scientist that claims that Evolution has a "component of chance" is defining it. One has to wonder what is the component of chance since all the mechanisms that lead to Evolution are Random and that the randomness is selected by Natural Selection (not random)- it means the component of chance are the mechanisms that involve randomness. So it is the intrinsic definition, which you can call implied definition, of random=chance that everyone (even Dawkins who understands Evolution much better than me) utilizes.

    Using this definition though has a built in assumption which is what I tried to show in the thread and combined it with the definition. I showed the definition with the assumption behind it. And now I'm asked to show who uses that definition? I'm only showing the assumption behind the widely used definition, am I supposed to find someone who realizes the assumption? If everyone realized the assumption then why would I create a thread to discuss in the first place? He basically asked me to prove the obvious, which I will once he gives me the answers.

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  14. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    Cosmic rays could have a pattern to them but the mutation they cause is still by chance right? Its not like the cosmic rays specifically choose to hit a certain portion of a gene? So basically its all the environmental factors factored in that cause the mutation but the mutation was a chance event- which is same as saying "random" mutation, am I correct in saying this?

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  15. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Indeed. :thumbsup: I’ll quickly add two points. (But that’s all because I don’t want to get sucked into a thread that I suspect has a strong underlying pseudoscience agendum.)

    Firstly, whilst environmental factors can drive mutation (eg. cosmic rays, chemicals etc.), random mutation also occurs through simple errors in gene replication.

    Secondly, random error is not always random w.r.t. chromosomal loci. Chromosomes often have mutation “hotspots” where mutations occur at a higher frequency compared to other locations. This is primarily the result of different chromatin conformations at different loci.
     
  16. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    Nice one.... Or you can simply say that you can not explain your understanding of science with regards to randomness that will not lead to discussion of "pseudoscience"...

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  17. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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  18. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    No worries... denial is a reality in this world.... science shouldn't have to be this way... so they say

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  19. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    Nature, more precisely "the nature of living things", as far as I can conceive, does not work "randomly". It works according to the principles such as action- reaction, availability of resources, trial and error. If a gene mutates, there are always environmental suspects as much as its inner mechanism, or relationality with other genes. We simply do not exactly know how DNA codes interprete surrounding environment, but we know that cells are organised to evaluate light, noise, vibration, gravity, space, heat and every other physical phenomenon. If we can not precisely estimate weather condition in next 30 days, we are still not very near to explain how living things are mutating according to this or many other environmental chaos. Here "randomness" actually means "we don't know yet".

    We make mutations in our laboratories and we can see that these codes are well open to be changed by external effects -in this example our scientist apply wind, heat or radiation on purpose. In nature, this effect occurs randomly(!). Actually, it does not; it occurs according to its inner mechanism and outer environment. Even a non-living system (take a Volcano) depends on surrounding pressure, heat accumulation and numerous other factors. We don't know exactly what they are, and we say that "volcanoes erupt randomly": According to our knowledge of course, not according to its existential mechanism. And imagine the effects of this volcano eruption over nearby living things.

    This is a hypothetical question: If we eliminate all environmental surrounding effects, do cells still mutate? It is impossible to answer this question since the whole existential elements of any cell is organised according to a performance, a role, or a function within, for, around, in, nearby of an environment.

    The gene code, that makes eye organ in various living things was not structured randomly; nor suddenly. Certain cells are specialized in light detection, which itself requires some time. Then they have become a free tool within the gene pools of the planet. The information of light sensitive cells were used in different species in different environments, each species (or a DNA project), which has issues with light, used these cells in their gene stuructures and eye has become the winner among many different projects of living world. Today every species which has eye use the same DNA code to make an eye on body. This is not random, this is a project which was developed by living things and coded for their generations throughout billions of years. Having a set of eye gene, ear gene, heart gene, etc. will make you what you are and will help you to survive in this environment.

    Purpose: Using the light force through an environment recognition device. Trials and errors and many of us have eye(s). This is one way of looking it...

    Purpose: Nothing. Light already constantly hits everything in front of it (living or non-living). "Randomly" some cells starts to react them differently than others. Because their chemistry change through light. Plants do not have eyes and they react light through photosynthesis, or with other ways, like some flowers blossom in day light, close themselves at night time, etc. Other cell types in animals "randomly" mutated and eye is evolved. This is another way of looking it.

    Each of these approach, or some others will necessarily highlight only certain part of what is really going on. We will ask questions, make some research and create some predictions. Before we knew DNA, there were more "random" explanations for living things, today we have more explanations. And hopefully one day we will be able to explain more about mutations, too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  20. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    Nice response baftan-

    As I understand then there is no real such thing as "random" mutation, we only call it random because we don't know enough about it to explain it. Wouldn't "uncertain" be a better word to describe this situation then? Do you follow the deterministic view as presented in the Chaos Theory?

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  21. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think determinism can be deduced from what I said, but "uncertain" sounds like "randomness". I will give another example: We don't know possible mutations and results of , let's say, what a snake DNA potentially can produce in time. But we know that this snake will not turn into a gorilla in the next million year. Because we know that the randomness of individual cells within the general system of a snake DNA has no inner or outer dynamics to turn its entire species characteristics into a gorilla within the given time period in this nature. It may go extinct, it may switch on leg genes, do other modifications, but it will not turn into a totally different species outside of its family. This is what you can call the limits of the randomness. But if you give 500 million years, and consider that environment will change radically and so many times, yes you may say that this creature would turn into something very different than its starting point.

    Yet even this have a limitation: You can guess that, for example, this creature will still be using DNA code as a source of life, just as life has been using this method for last 3 billion year or so. Because all information are stored via this code. As far as we know, only humans can produce other means of complicated information storage tools other than DNA, here we have computers. Even humans have limited scope of randomness, because they also have to depend on some background information.

    All in all, I am saying this: Every randomness should be evaluated within its structure and/or positionality. Without knowing every single effect that surround and help modifications to occur in any given system, (a galaxy, a cell, or human society) it is impossible to talk about ultimate randomness, as well as determinism. DNA was not determined to establish the human genome, but possibilities within this planet and mechanisms of evolution allowed us to exist as we are. From now on, our human science and system have also become an effective external modifier to our DNA, alongside already existing natural mutation dynamics.

    We humans like to control things, it can be fire, wind, electricity, anything you can think of. If we do not benefit from "random", "uncertain" (I prefer to call these changes as sideproducts of natural politics between things) mutations (such as loosing eyesight or developing cancer), we will try to restrict this randomness within the limits of our power, we will make it controllable for our purposes. And our limits are expanding rapidly...
     
  22. 786 Searching for Truth Valued Senior Member

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    I was simply asking if you believed in determism, not that I derived it from what you said. I was just curious on how you viewed it.

    Yes it may sound similar but they are quite distinct. Because randomness, can be understood (or misunderstood) as meaning that we have some knowledge of the process (the process being a random process). But "uncertainty" would simply mean the process is unknown as well, which I feel is more correct.


    I think you are using randomness to mean something like "DNA Potential". DNA potential can be known at least if we tried to employ our knowledge of genetics to very simple models. Randomness would not be the correct word here I believe.

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  23. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

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