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Cancer’s Inconvenient Truths

Inconvenience #1: Genetics represents < 10% of the risk but most of the science...

Is math inherently part of the structure of the universe?

In another thread on Science 2.0 we got onto the nature of existence and what we can say for certain...

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James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA’s double-helix structure recently called for a back to...

Cancer research surprises

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Rafe FurstRSS Feed of this column.

Rafe Furst holds an M.S. in Computer Science and B.S. in Symbolic Systems, both from Stanford University. He is an entrepreneur, investor and business leader whose passion is connecting people... Read More »


Not having had any serious biological training I have to go to Wikipedia and Google to learn the basics. And I’m often surprised to find that concepts everyone uses don’t have good consensus amongst scientists. When reading the Wikipedia entry for “gene”, it occurs to me that if the concept didn’t predate the discovery of DNA, it would not exist.

At the very least, it would look much different than “a locatable region of genomic sequence, corresponding to a unit of inheritance” (call this the “standard definition”).

Lee Smolin claims that AP is bad and favors a Cosmological Natural Selection view instead (on grounds of falsifiability).  I believe this is a false dichotomy and that they are really one and the same.  Here’s why:

  1. Normally natural selection requires some form of “replication” or it’s not actually natural selection.   But replication is not needed if you start with an infinity of heterogeneous universes.  In other words replication is simulated via the anthropic lens over the life-supporting subset of all possible universes.

I liken cognition to a hill-climbing search on the landscape of theories/models/maps that explain/predict reality.  It’s easy to get stuck on peaks of local maximality.  Injecting randomness creates a sort of Boltzmann machine of the mind and increases my chances of finding higher peaks.

But I have to be prepared to be more confused — and question more assumptions than I intended to — because chances are my new random placement on the landscape is initially lower than the local maximum I was on prior.  This part is scary.