Being an Element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution

Considering some of the weird stuff that shows up on this board, I have no shame sharing the following that I finally finished after weeks of procrastination and then days worth of some really hideous starts, and worse crash & burns. It’s always a bit surprising when it works out and I can look at it after its 50th read-through and feel a big sigh, ahhh. That’s nice, it’s done.

I’m sure punctuation could use some first aid, but, as they say, same as it ever was, on that one. ?


<img src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0ZSnGUouHwM/YHoa4egesaI/AAAAAAAAE5Y/yklF9eEZd7Igo1fvcM7VXTeBI7dZBp_qQCLcBGAsYHQ/w532-h116/IMG_%25231-element%2Bof%2Bevolution-RED.png" alt="" width="527" height="116" />

Although I’m a family man, with my share of friends, along with being community-minded, there’s a part of me that rarely fully connects with people, leaving me with an impression of being on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of all the distracting self-delusional thinking people indulge in.

Over the decades I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to understand what makes my fundamental outlook and instincts so foreign to the general mindset.  It’s only recently, with the hindsight of sixty-five years, and coming off of this “Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity Project” that I’ve finally nailed it,

. . . . . . . I possess a visceral awareness of, and appreciation for, being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.

. . . . . . . Such a fundamental understanding bestows a host of the cascading spiritual and intellectual benefits.

Here's another example of words having power, by finally distilling those feelings into a sentence, I'm becoming aware of and comfortable with a new level of understanding and have created a fresh platform for taking it to the next level.  I mean, the adventure simply keeps on getting better.

This sense of self and spiritual solidity emerged out of a lifetime of curiosity and learning about Earth, deep-time, and her amazing evolutionary story.

Especially realizing how the components of my own physical body had their origins eons ago.  Even before that, if you consider how Earth herself had to go through intense processing before promising molecular tricks and biological solutions to life’s challenges would have the material resources at hand to allow them to be put to the test and prosper.

It’s a long, amazingly complex story that keeps evolving as more evidence gets collected and processed into shared scientific knowledge.  Folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time.  Considering I’ve been paying attention to it since my grade school days, it’s inevitable that I’ve achieved some insights along the way.

In the end, the thought of being an intelligent self-aware element of creation, one who is capable of savoring the pageant of Earth’s amazing Evolution is more than comforting.  It provides me with a spiritual foundation and solidity in the face of challenges, inevitable failings and my coming death, that possess a depth of peace and security that no Holy Books or fast-talking pick-pocket preachers can get close to offering.  It's good news worth passing around to the few who are honestly curious.   ✌️

<img src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-I0R9iahrbJs/YHodK0E4SeI/AAAAAAAAE5o/D2Z0BECLqksTDjuQKZmTTlL-KLGMHk_vQCLcBGAsYHQ/w535-h107/IMG_%25233-element%2Bof%2Bevolution-rocks.png" alt="" width="530" height="172" />

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I have had the same revelatory experiences.

A long time ago I read an article on David Bohm (The life and Times of David Bohm) And what struck me as an odd observation Bohm made about science being fractured in small specialties so far separated from each other that all sense of commonality and wholeness was lost.

So, ever since I have tried to find Common Denominators in and the more you look the more common features and properties you begin to see.

In the are of evolution I discovered a singular common denominator in ALL eukaryotic organisms, the Microtubule. Which may have evolved from a prokaryotic proto-microtubule which was a common denominator in RNA based organisms, before they were basically replaced by the DNA based modern microtubule. There are still prokaryotic organisms , but they are more or less relegated to extremely simple life forms like bacteria and viruses.

Abstract

Microtubules play crucial roles in cytokinesis, transport, and motility, and are therefore superb targets for anti-cancer drugs. All tubulins evolved from a common ancestor they share with the distantly related bacterial cell division protein FtsZ, but while eukaryotic tubulins evolved into highly conserved microtubule-forming heterodimers, bacterial FtsZ presumably continued to function as single homopolymeric protofilaments as it does today. Microtubules have not previously been found in bacteria, and we lack insight into their evolution from the tubulin/FtsZ ancestor.

Using electron cryomicroscopy, here we show that the tubulin homologs BtubA and BtubB form microtubules in bacteria and suggest these be referred to as “bacterial microtubules” (bMTs). bMTs share important features with their eukaryotic counterparts, such as straight protofilaments and similar protofilament interactions. bMTs are composed of only five protofilaments, however, instead of the 13 typical in eukaryotes. These and other results suggest that rather than being derived from modern eukaryotic tubulin, BtubA and BtubB arose from early tubulin intermediates that formed small microtubules. Since we show that bacterial microtubules can be produced in abundance in vitro without chaperones, they should be useful tools for tubulin research and drug screening.


https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article/figure/image?size=inline&id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1001213.g001

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1001213#


The microtubule is a remarkable nano-scale information processor which has been instrumental in evolutionary processes since the early biological emergence of prokaryotic bacteria, which had a prokaryotic version of the microtubule. The evolutionary emergence of the Eukaryotic DNA organisms must have been due to the early version of the microtubule acquiring some new ways of assembling and thereby increasing its role in the explosion of modern biology.

The microtubule and two related organelles, Actin and Intermediate filaments which are like country roads which connect the microtubule highways in the cytoskeleton, the cell structure that gives living organisms their shape and motility.

Microtubules and Filaments

The cytoskeleton is a structure that helps cells maintain their shape and internal organization, and it also provides mechanical support that enables cells to carry out essential functions like division and movement. There is no single cytoskeletal component. Rather, several different components work together to form the cytoskeleton.
What Is the Cytoskeleton Made Of?
The cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells is made of filamentous proteins, and it provides mechanical support to the cell and its cytoplasmic constituents. All cytoskeletons consist of three major classes of elements that differ in size and in protein composition. Microtubules are the largest type of filament, with a diameter of about 25 nanometers (nm), and they are composed of a protein called tubulin.
Actin filaments are the smallest type, with a diameter of only about 6 nm, and they are made of a protein called actin. Intermediate filaments, as their name suggests, are mid-sized, with a diameter of about 10 nm. Unlike actin filaments and microtubules, intermediate filaments are constructed from a number of different subunit proteins.
What Do Microtubules Do?

(Figure 1)

Figure Detail : Tubulin contains two polypeptide subunits, and dimers of these subunits string together to make long strands called protofilaments. Thirteen protofilaments then come together to form the hollow, straw-shaped filaments of microtubules. Microtubules are ever-changing, with reactions constantly adding and subtracting tubulin dimers at both ends of the filament (Figure 1). The rates of change at either end are not balanced — one end grows more rapidly and is called the plus end, whereas the other end is known as the minus end. In cells, the minus ends of microtubules are anchored in structures called microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs). The primary MTOC in a cell is called the centrosome, and it is usually located adjacent to the nucleus.

What Do Actin Filaments Do?

(Figure 2).

Figure Detail: The protein actin is abundant in all eukaryotic cells. It was first discovered in skeletal muscle, where actin filaments slide along filaments of another protein called myosin to make the cells contract. (In nonmuscle cells, actin filaments are less organized and myosin is much less prominent.) Actin filaments are made up of identical actin proteins arranged in a long spiral chain. Like microtubules, actin filaments have plus and minus ends, with more ATP-powered growth occurring at a filament's plus end

Microtubules tend to grow out from the centrosome to the plasma membrane. In nondividing cells, microtubule networks radiate out from the centrosome to provide the basic organization of the cytoplasm, including the positioning of organelles.


https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/microtubules-and-filaments-14052932/#

That makes me sad.

You totally missed the point.

 

Microtubules are cool as can be, but they are not the answer to everything.

That makes me sad. You totally missed the point.

Microtubules are cool as can be, but they are not the answer to everything.


I understood your point about evolutionary pageantry and I agree. It has been a remarkable journey.

I just wanted to draw attention to the role this nano-scale processor has played in this grand pageant.

mutation is a change in the sequence of an organism’s DNA. What causes a mutation? Mutations can be caused by high-energy sources such as radiation or by chemicals in the environment. They can also appear spontaneously during the replication of DNA.

Mutations generally fall into two types: point mutations and chromosomal aberrations. In point mutations, one base pair is changed. The human genome, for example, contains over 3.1 billion bases of DNA, and each base must be faithfully replicated for cell division to occur. Mistakes, although surprisingly rare, do happen. About one in every 10^10 (10,000,000,000) base pair is changed. The most common type of mistake is a point substitution.
More uncommon is the failure to copy one of the bases (deletion), the making of two copies for a single base (point duplication) or the addition of a new base or even several bases (insertion). Chromosomal aberrations are larger-scale mutations that can occur during meiosis in unequal crossing over events, slippage during DNA recombination or due to the activities of transposable events. Genes and even whole chromosomes can be substituted, duplicated, or deleted due to these errors.
https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/mutations-are-the-raw-materials-of-evolution-17395346/#

Remarkable that (sometimes beneficial) errors, combined with natural selection, are responsible for the variety and the incremental formation and growth in complexity and abilities of living organisms.

When I look at earth’s history, and then try to imagine this against a universal backdrop, it makes for awe and wonder and a sympathetic understanding why so many people assign a greater intelligence to it all.

Personally I like to give the credit to the semi-intelligent universal mathematics which were the guiding constants of all physical interactions since the first mathematical patterns emerged from the original chaos.

As far as life is concerned, without microtubules we’d still be at the prokaryotic stage, stagnating at rudimentary levels of life like the cyanobacteria which still survives today. Hence my tribute to the role the microtubule has played in this grand universal pageant.

Like I said, you’ve so wrapped up in your microtubules that you allowed the point of the essay to fly right past ya. It never had a chance.

I possess a visceral awareness of, and appreciation for, being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.
I wasn't writing about any mechanism of evolution! Be it microtubules or genetic mutation. (Incidentally, your linked 2011 article didn't even mention microtubules.)

My essay is about our personal relationship with Earth’s Evolution.

There is a difference.

 

 

 

In the end, the thought of being an intelligent self-aware element of creation, one who is capable of savoring the pageant of Earth’s amazing Evolution is more than comforting.

It provides me with a spiritual foundation and solidity in the face of challenges, inevitable failings and my coming death, that possess a depth of peace and security that no Holy Books, or fast-talking pick-pocket preachers can get close to offering. It’s good news worth passing around to the few who are honestly curious.

This sense of self and spiritual solidity emerged out of a lifetime of curiosity and learning about Earth, deep-time, and her amazing evolutionary story.

Especially realizing how the components of my own physical body had their origins eons ago. Even before that, if you consider how Earth herself had to go through intense processing before promising molecular tricks and biological solutions to life’s challenges would have the material resources at hand to allow them to be put to the test and prosper.


I was responding to this part of your missive, because my wonder is not of the spiritual kind but focused on the very small, i.e. 3 fundamental values from which EVERYTHING evolved.

I respect the more esoteric spiritual perspective, but as ex-musician (Pythagoras) and bookkeeper (Tegmark) my roots are grounded in the mathematical nature of universal patterns and workings.

This does not rule out anything, but is something I can get my head around. Mathematics is amoral and implacable in its functions. which gives me a certain comfort that avoids having to placate a higher power or incur its wrath.

I was recently thinking about the word “community”. People who go to a church but don’t think much about theology say they “go for the community”. People who miss church go to secular gatherings, for the community. What I was thinking was, it’s become a replacement for “spiritual” or even “god”, and is losing its meaning. Things like cc’s Pageant actually build, or at least show, maybe honor, the foundations of all that we’ve discovered that supports life, that maybe gives us a chance of beating the odds of survival. I know you don’t “win” in evolution, you can’t control it, but we’ve added “culture” to mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection. No one drew a picture of culture on a cave wall and went out and sold the idea, it just happened, but it’s not eugenics when you reflect on who we are and how we got here.

which gives me a certain comfort that avoids having to placate a higher power or incur its wrath.
Which is exactly what I've done. What's disturbing is how others keep shoving "higher power," "god," "its wrath," and all that jazz, into what I'm trying to express. Because my case is beyond atheism, God is simply a creation of our Mindscapes, a powerful creation for sure, but totally from within our own minds!*

That’s what the “Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide” is all about. Recognizing that all our notions about God, and such, are our own convenient creations, for our own benefit - but not to be mistaken for the physical reality itself, the thing that we are trying to understand.

For all the pride you project in the “solidity” of mathematics and science, our understanding of microtubules is built on more conjecture than fact and understanding. That’s not discounting them, it’s just pointing out that your ideas and conceptions about microtubules role in Evolution or Thinking isn’t near as solid as some claim.

But again, I’m discussing the human perspective of trying to grasp the more fundamental questions people have always asked ourselves.

Where did I come from?

Why am I here?

What’s it all good for?

and such.

 

Lausten, has a better appreciation for what I’m trying to express, which I’m grateful for.


* (totally from within our own minds!* ) comes with a caveat.  Of course, our minds are all about processing the input that's constantly streaming in from the outside world.  Which is why I refer to God and religious ideas, as Shadow Plays trying to make a little sense out of something that's beyond our conception.
Mathematics is amoral and implacable in its functions. which gives me a certain comfort that avoids having to placate a higher power or incur its wrath. --4
I'm not trying to be King Solomon, but I see the contributions both of you are making. CC with the thoughts about thoughts, and Write4's more specific comfort drawn from math. I went through that period where I said things like "everything is perfect how it is". That culture came to me as a child watching those slightly older than me shed my grandparent's limitations and seek meaning in everything we were learning at the time. But that was still a dead end because it was seeking a thing, a new list of beliefs.

Evolution and the math that goes with it can be studied purely for the purpose of better understanding it. Some people do, then go back to church and do that thing. Others, thankfully, stop right in the middle of it, like looking at the similarity of our hand with a whale’s fin, and soak in the awe and wonder of that. You can also contemplate how imperfect we are and how these amoral functions have resulted in the emergence of morality as a survival mechanism that is imperfect. Religions often try to explain this and correct for it, unsuccessfully as we know.

folds within folds of complexity. ?

As I understand it, evolution is bidirectional, greater complexity for some species and greater simplicity for other species, depending on external conditions and pressures.

Evolution of biological complexity

Jump to navigationJump to searchThe evolution of biological complexity is one important outcome of the process of evolution.[1] Evolution has produced some remarkably complex organisms – although the actual level of complexity is very hard to define or measure accurately in biology, with properties such as gene content, the number of cell types or morphology all proposed as possible metrics.[2][3][4]
Many biologists used to believe that evolution was progressive (orthogenesis) and had a direction that led towards so-called "higher organisms", despite a lack of evidence for this viewpoint.[5] This idea of "progression" and "higher organisms" in evolution is now regarded as misleading, with natural selection having no intrinsic direction and organisms selected for either increased or decreased complexity in response to local environmental conditions.[6] Although there has been an increase in the maximum level of complexity over the history of life, there has always been a large majority of small and simple organisms and the most common level of complexity appears to have remained relatively constant.
Selection for simplicity and complexity[edit]
Usually organisms that have a higher rate of reproduction than their competitors have an evolutionary advantage. Consequently, organisms can evolve to become simpler and thus multiply faster and produce more offspring, as they require fewer resources to reproduce. A good example are parasites such as Plasmodium – the parasite responsible for malaria – and mycoplasma; these organisms often dispense with traits that are made unnecessary through parasitism on a host.[7]

A lineage can also dispense with complexity when a particular complex trait merely provides no selective advantage in a particular environment. Loss of this trait need not necessarily confer a selective advantage, but may be lost due to the accumulation of mutations if its loss does not confer an immediate selective disadvantage.[8] For example, a parasitic organism may dispense with the synthetic pathway of a metabolite where it can readily scavenge that metabolite from its host. Discarding this synthesis may not necessarily allow the parasite to conserve significant energy or resources and grow faster, but the loss may be fixed in the population through mutation accumulation if no disadvantage is incurred by loss of that pathway. Mutations causing loss of a complex trait occur more often than mutations causing gain of a complex trait.[citation needed]

With selection, evolution can also produce more complex organisms. Complexity often arises in the co-evolution of hosts and pathogens,[9] with each side developing ever more sophisticated adaptations, such as the immune system and the many techniques pathogens have developed to evade it. For example, the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, which causes sleeping sickness, has evolved so many copies of its major surface antigen that about 10% of its genome is devoted to different versions of this one gene. This tremendous complexity allows the parasite to constantly change its surface and thus evade the immune system through antigenic variation.[10]

More generally, the growth of complexity may be driven by the co-evolution between an organism and the ecosystem of predators, prey and parasites to which it tries to stay adapted: as any of these become more complex in order to cope better with the diversity of threats offered by the ecosystem formed by the others, the others too will have to adapt by becoming more complex, thus triggering an ongoing evolutionary arms race[9] towards more complexity.[11] This trend may be reinforced by the fact that ecosystems themselves tend to become more complex over time, as species diversity increases, together with the linkages or dependencies between species.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_biological_complexity

This reminded me of Robert Hazen where he compared Mineral ecology to Lexicology, also known as the probabilistic science of “Large number of Rare Events”, used by the NSA to study authorship of written manifestos, etc.

Large number of rare events

In statistics, large number of rare events (LNRE) modeling summarizes methods that allow improvements in frequency distribution estimation over the maximum likelihood estimation when "rare events are common".[1]
It can be applied to problems in linguistics (see Zipf distribution), in various natural phenomena, in chemistry, in demography and in bibliography, amongst others.[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_number_of_rare_events#