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The Eyes of Richard Dawkins - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Short, but curiously devoid of journalistic nonsense.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 20:38:17 UTC | #877204

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 2 by Jos Gibbons

And still we spend a great deal of time on invisible things: some appealed to Dawkins (what the pure math of physics postulated) and others frustrated him (“fairies, ghosts, hobgoblins”).

Oh look, a conflation. You may have spokem too soon, Neodarwinian. As RD explains in The Magic of Reality, we can draw empirical conclusions
1. directly,
2. indirectly or
3. by showing a model is successful when tested.
It's clear physics passes that test whereas the other suggested tosh won't.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 20:44:28 UTC | #877206

wisnoskij's Avatar Comment 3 by wisnoskij

Eyes may have evolved separately a number of times but all from a single source.

Life as we know it is all DNA based and came from a single past ancestor and shared the same environment. So I cannot see how anyone can make the statement that eyes will probably show up on all advanced alien lifeforms when all the constants that brought eyes into being will at the very least be slightly different in alien life.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 22:06:09 UTC | #877215

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 4 by Neodarwinian

I think the frustration part may be referring to just that. It is frustrating that this tosh, as you put it Josh, is certainly not that appealing and it is hard to understand, (frustrating), how this stuff can compete with reality.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 22:10:15 UTC | #877216

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg

@ Wisnoskij

If you look at the history of the eye, you will see that in any environment that includes some form of light, natural selection generally favors specimens that have developed some sensitivity to it. Apparently it offers a strong evolutionairy advantage. This is probably true for alien lifeforms as well. Wether they have a completely different 'blueprint' than DNA is irrelevant, if there is a form of mutation + nat selection, it will favor the early eye. Unless, as Dawkins states, the environment is utterly different. Like a permanent fog or extremely deep waters. At least as I understand it.

Edit: I'm really tired, so please correct me if I'm not making any sense.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 22:26:23 UTC | #877218

Chris Boccia's Avatar Comment 6 by Chris Boccia

Comment 5 by Sjoerd Westenborg :

@ Wisnoskij

Wether they have a completely different 'blueprint'' than DNA is irrelevant, if there is a form of mutation + nat selection, it will favor the early eye.

Just wanted to point out that the analogy to a blueprint is a very bad analogy. A blueprint is basically a map that shows where everything goes. This is not true of DNA and also wouldn't allow for mutations. A better analogy is a 'recipe.' A recipe doesn't show you where things go, it just tells you how much of what. This is subject to mutations, such as adding too much flour, or too little baking soda, which will ultimately affect the end product. Blueprint also sorta implies design, as opposed to recipe which is slightly more neutral.

Merely a suggestion. I think 'blueprint' is misleading.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 22:42:58 UTC | #877221

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 7 by Agrajag

Comment 6 by Chris Boccia
"Blueprint" also sorta implies design, as opposed to "recipe" which is slightly more neutral.

So then... you don't believe in the Master Chef??
;-)
But seriously, a blueprint usually specifies tolerances, and there are possibilities to mis-read the blueprint just as there are errors in following a recipe.

Comment 3 by wisnoskij
Eyes may have evolved separately a number of times but all from a single source.

Perhaps a helpful observation would be that, while eyes have evolved more than once, they have evolved differently in (widely) different species. Also, don't forget the species such as cave-dwelling fish that have "lost" their eyes after may generations of living in total darkness. Evolution in action.
Steve

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 23:05:12 UTC | #877224

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 8 by Alan4discussion

Comment 7 by Agrajag

Perhaps a helpful observation would be that, while eyes have evolved more than once, they have evolved differently in (widely) different species. Also, don't forget the species such as cave-dwelling fish that have "lost" their eyes after may generations of living in total darkness. Evolution in action.

While eyes are likely to evolve in light spectral ranges, sonar as found in Cetaceans or fish-like electric field sensors could substitute in dark environments.

Anyway, apart from a few cartoons and digital constructs, Hollywood aliens have to be suitable for presentation in the form of human actors. Usually on Earth with gravity at 1G !

It's amazing how many humanoid bipeds turn up in 1G artificial gravity fields ! - Even among the robots!

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 00:21:25 UTC | #877240

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 9 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 3 by wisnoskij

Eyes may have evolved separately a number of times but all from a single source.

Life as we know it is all DNA based and came from a single past ancestor and shared the same environment. So I cannot see how anyone can make the statement that eyes will probably show up on all advanced alien lifeforms when all the constants that brought eyes into being will at the very least be slightly different in alien life.

Do you try to excel at being this obtuse? Not all life forms evolved to need eyes, plants operate very well without them for example, but of those life forms that evolved to have a use for them, eyes that is, there are numerous variations...how many types of seeing went extinct in the history of life? A life form on another planet might evolve to "see" in a part of the spectrum "alien" to us....the word "eye" is subjective, an organ for "seeing" with, not much use where there is no light.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 01:14:04 UTC | #877252

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 10 by InYourFaceNewYorker

And last night Richard talked about how he was moved almost to tears by the Large Hardon Collider. That sounds funny? What? Men are allowed to shed tears. He has every right to be moved to tears by the Large Hardon Collider! ;)

Julie

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 01:28:46 UTC | #877257

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 11 by DavidMcC

Parts are backward; the octopus’s eye, in contrast, has it right.

Oh, that old chestnut!

greatest-show-on-earth-a-quibble

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 07:22:10 UTC | #877304

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 12 by DavidMcC

... And, as for their focussing ability, what makes Amy think that an octopus eye would be any better than a human eye after several decades. Octopodes/octopuses generally only live for about a year or two, so they never get to find out how many age-related problems they could have. But even if they did, would they complain to us about it?

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 07:27:12 UTC | #877306

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 13 by justinesaracen

InYourFaceNew Yorker

You're making a joke, right? A rather puerile adolescent penis joke?

If not, the name of the gadget is the HadRON collider.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 08:50:05 UTC | #877313

JustLikeMyPops's Avatar Comment 14 by JustLikeMyPops

Comment 13 by esuther :

InYourFaceNew Yorker

You're making a joke, right? A rather puerile adolescent penis joke?

If not, the name of the gadget is the HadRON collider.

Yeah I missed that SPELLING ERROR completely, perhaps its because my mind is not in the gutter.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 10:09:10 UTC | #877327

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 15 by DavidMcC

Comment 14 by JustLikeMyPops

Yeah I missed that SPELLING ERROR completely, perhaps its because my mind is not in the gutter.

I missed it too, but probably only because we tend to read the words we expect to see, rather than what is actually written. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have "risen to the occasion" and taken the bait. :)

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 10:19:14 UTC | #877328

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 16 by Alex, adv. diab.

what the pure math of physics postulated

That is a pretty stupid statement

And last night Richard talked about how he was moved almost to tears by the Large Hardon Collider

I am also moved to tears by the LHC - but for entirely different reasons presently...

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 10:22:41 UTC | #877329

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 17 by DavidMcC

Comment 13 by esuther

You're making a joke, right? A rather puerile adolescent penis joke?

Shouldn't that be "puellish", or something, given that, in spsie of her masculine avatar, IYFNY is female?

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 10:38:53 UTC | #877334

Moderator's Avatar Comment 18 by Moderator

Moderators' message

This thread is still in its very early stages. Please don't let it get derailed with off-topic comments. Thanks.

The Mods

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 10:50:00 UTC | #877335

Jussie's Avatar Comment 19 by Jussie

If there is an advantage to be had by sensing light. 'Eyes', or other light sensing methods, will evolve. Even plants, no eyes, make sure to reach for the sun.

If we believe planets orbiting a star are the most likely places to produce life. Then I wouldn't be surprised to find eyes on aliens.

On the other hand, if i remember correctly. A lot of life on earth consists of bacteria in the earths crust, slowly munching away whatever they deem munchable. Maybe these are the most prolific aliens, who knows? I just wish i'm still around when they find out.

Comment 8 by Alan4discussion :

It's amazing how many humanoid bipeds turn up in 1G artificial gravity fields ! - Even among the robots!

Indeed, especially the robots. Amazing.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 11:05:33 UTC | #877337

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 20 by DavidMcC

Comment 19 by Jussie

A lot of life on earth consists of bacteria in the earths crust...

Maybe, but for surface life, eyes are a "must have", unless you live in a very dark cave. This is because imaging eyes can evolve if there is light to see, so inevitably, they do evolve, sooner or later - usually sooner, once you have multicellularity. (Even one single-celled species has organelles that appear to produce some sort of vision, AFAIK.)

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 11:26:13 UTC | #877346

Jussie's Avatar Comment 21 by Jussie

Comment 20 by DavidMcC

Maybe, but for surface life, eyes are a "must have", unless you live in a very dark cave. This is because imaging eyes can evolve if there is light to see, so inevitably, they do evolve, sooner or later - usually sooner, once you have multicellularity.

I think we are in total agreeance:

Comment 19 by Jussie If there is an advantage to be had by sensing light. 'Eyes', or other light sensing methods, will evolve.

And

(Even one single-celled species has organelles that appear to produce some sort of vision, AFAIK.)

Interesting. And by the way, seeing as you seem to a thing or two about biology. How the plants know where the sun is? Do they feel the heat or do they sense the light?

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 11:50:12 UTC | #877356

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 22 by DavidMcC

Comment 21 by Jussie

How the plants know where the sun is? Do they feel the heat or do they sense the light?

Jussie, it's quite simple. The rate of elongation of a stem is reduced by incident light. The plant does not have to form an image of where the sun is, the light just bends its stems automatically. This has long been known.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 12:23:00 UTC | #877376

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 23 by DavidMcC

... Of course, what grows long, grows thin in this case, so a plant stem trying to grow in near darkness trails across the ground until it reaches the light. Only when it reaches enough light can it grow strongly enough to stand up.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 12:33:40 UTC | #877385

Jussie's Avatar Comment 24 by Jussie

Comment 22 by DavidMcC

Jussie, it's quite simple. The rate of elongation of a stem is reduced by incident light. The plant does not have to form an image of where the sun is, the light just bends its stems automatically. This has long been known.

Thanks. So the side of the stem facing the light grows slower than the other, causing it to bend towards the light source. Simple enough.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 12:38:36 UTC | #877388

wisnoskij's Avatar Comment 25 by wisnoskij

@Sjoerd Westenborg Yes, you make sense. The argument that there will likely be light on alien planets, and any advanced organisms will most likely take advantage of the huge benefits of having eyes seems logical.

But also you cannot ignore that the super hearing of bats seems if anything an improvement in many ways.

But I agree, if you had to pick anything eyes seem the most likely to be percent.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 13:13:05 UTC | #877407

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 26 by Ignorant Amos

Bats have no real use for eyes....an alien life form could "see" in sound, or even touch, like in Moles or smell as with Ants. Even using taste to see is not beyond belief, an alien life form could evolve to use taste to get about, Snakes use the smell of taste to locate prey.

RD goes into detail with what is understood in sonar as a method of "seeing" in Bats, "Unweaving the Rainbow" and "The Blind Watchmaker" for those that haven't yet read them.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 13:37:24 UTC | #877415

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 27 by DavidMcC

Comment 26 by Ignorant Amos

Bats have no real use for eyes....an alien life form could "see" in sound, or even touch, like in Moles or smell as with Ants.

Only completely blind bats, which isn't many species. At dawn and dusk, eyes come in handy, even for bats, because they give much higher resolution vision than sonar "eyes". If there is even a low level of light, therefore, animals (ie, organisms that aren't rooted in the ground) will evolve eyes to see it, even if they also have any number of other senses.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 14:31:36 UTC | #877441

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 28 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment 6 by Chris Boccia :

Merely a suggestion. I think 'blueprint' is misleading.

Agreed, I knew it would be corrected. Just couldn't find the right words. Thanks!

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 14:56:57 UTC | #877450

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 29 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Comment Removed by Author

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 16:09:40 UTC | #877469

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 30 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 27 by DavidMcC

Only completely blind bats, which isn't many species. At dawn and dusk, eyes come in handy, even for bats, because they give much higher resolution vision than sonar "eyes". If there is even a low level of light, therefore, animals (ie, organisms that aren't rooted in the ground) will evolve eyes to see it, even if they also have any number of other senses.

Agreed, but we are hypothesising here on the potential need for the evolution of eyes on an alien world. I'm reminded of the movie "Pitch Black" for some reason. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a sonar type "sight" could advance over light sensitive sight....what we "see" is merely the mapping of light waves on a model in our brains caused by electrical signals via the eyes, RD suggests that Bats probably do the same with sound waves to the point they can hear "colour" and "texture". He actually uses a hypothetical race of sonar "seeing" aliens discussing and debating the complexity and understanding of the invention of an artificial light operating seeing device, a good way of expressing the idea as well as amusing as is the case in his books.

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 16:43:25 UTC | #877484