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Thread: Hyperadapting organism

  1. #1 Hyperadapting organism 
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    According to natural selection, the population of one species in an area adopts whatever deviation is helpful to survival. This would be amazingly cool if it weren't for the fact that it takes forever. One of the most promising and amazing fields being researched today is genetics. So, why don't we speed up nature with some theoretical genetic engineering? Imagine if a gene were present in an organism that told it to intelligently assess it's environment and rebuild its body accordingly. I'm in danger? Better grow an exoskeleton. Need to defend myself? Oh look, a blade made of organic compounds. You see where I'm going with this; natural selection occurring in individuals instead of populations. Sounds like the X-men, but hey, if the boot fits... grow a boot out of proteins and calcium.


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  3. #2  
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    Have you heard any of the paranoia over GMOs? And that's actually a much broader category than genetically engineered (not that many critics seem to know the difference). In short, while it seems like a lot of really cool and useful things can be done with genetic engineering, society isn't ready for it and research must proceed slowly and carefully. (That said, the ethics involved are tricky and do demand at least some of that caution.)

    Edit: Although, I should point out that major physical changes to a fully grown organism is pretty much sci-fi. While you could theoretically be born with an exoskeleton (although spider-silk-reinforced skin sounds like a better deal), an otherwise normal human adult could never get an exoskeleton from genetic engineering alone.


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    Thanks for your response. As for ethics, I just like coming up with theories. If GE ever became seriously applicable, the politicians would think of something XD. Now onto the scientific feasibility; I think if the genes were modified to respond to a high degree of subconscious intelligence, and enough material was present (food), serious physical transformation could be possible. You have to think outside of the box, don't just modify the genetic system that's already in place, create a new system. More chromosomes, faster mitosis, even a different genetic material than DNA ( maybe more than 4 components). What it all boils down to is that humans and their sapience establish a link between the brain and genetic code. Since neurons themselves contain genetic material, specialized neurons must be created to turn the messages sent by DNA to cells into a two way system. The only problem is that RNA, the messenger, might establish a labor union...
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Centurion View Post
    ....So, why don't we speed up nature with some theoretical genetic engineering? Imagine if a gene were present in an organism that told it to intelligently assess it's environment and rebuild its body accordingly. I'm in danger? Better grow an exoskeleton. Need to defend myself? Oh look, a blade made of organic compounds. You see where I'm going with this; natural selection occurring in individuals instead of populations. Sounds like the X-men, but hey, if the boot fits... grow a boot out of proteins and calcium.
    It sounds far too slow. When you see the Tiger charging it is too late to be growing longer legs or better camoflage.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Centurion View Post
    Thanks for your response. As for ethics, I just like coming up with theories. If GE ever became seriously applicable, the politicians would think of something XD. Now onto the scientific feasibility; I think if the genes were modified to respond to a high degree of subconscious intelligence, and enough material was present (food), serious physical transformation could be possible. You have to think outside of the box, don't just modify the genetic system that's already in place, create a new system. More chromosomes, faster mitosis, even a different genetic material than DNA ( maybe more than 4 components). What it all boils down to is that humans and their sapience establish a link between the brain and genetic code. Since neurons themselves contain genetic material, specialized neurons must be created to turn the messages sent by DNA to cells into a two way system. The only problem is that RNA, the messenger, might establish a labor union...
    Careful. This may be the personal theories section, but what you have isn't a theory. It's just an idea. Also, it's an idea that contradicts known science. (Just a friendly warning, as many long-time posters around here have very little patience for that kind of thing.) Also, I should point out that "thinking outside the box" is a phrase not likely to get a lot of positive attention around here as it's too often used to mean "abandon science and see things my way." (Not saying you're using it that way.)

    Ethics are important though if for no other reason than the most likely response by politicians is to declare it all illegal and be done with it (as if that ever really worked, but it certainly hurts funding for such projects).

    Genetics are the blueprints for the brain. The actions of the brain cannot alter the genetic code. They can directly or indirectly (more often indirectly) alter the epigenetic information, but that's not the same thing. Also no. Serious, rapid, physical transformations still wouldn't be possible. Even creatures that have evolved to transform (caterpillars to butterflies, for example) take a long time to accomplish it and it's a major undertaking where they basically wrap themselves in a bag, dissolve their bodies and slowly rebuild a new one. More chromosomes and DNA pairs would have no effect on that. Faster mitosis would speed things up some, but then it'd also speed everything else up, like aging.
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  7. #6  
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    If it has noticeable results going as slow as it is, how can speeding up the process be too slow? It's not about running from a tiger. It's about looking around, seeing that there are tigers everywhere, and adapting to an environment filled with predators. If you just adapted to whatever you're doing at the moment, you would exhaust your cells before noon. Even your body has to prioritize.
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  8. #7  
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    The answer that is working so far is to make a lot of changes in each generation and see which ones manage to have the most children survive.
    It might seem more expensive but it is also far more proactive.

    Human planning tends to be tooo restrictive to create enough random variations for a truly adaptive system, especially when the system is tasked with adapting to a complex, adaptive, and often hostile environment..
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    Thanks for the friendly warning, but if I conformed to the scientific community's expectations, I'd just sit around learning what has already been learned. You could very well wake up tomorrow and find out they invented the flying car, even if the college professors said it was impossible. You make some very valid points that I will try to address. First, the brain establishing contact with the genetic material that created it is more realistic than a lot of "official" theories out there. Think of driving in a car that turns itself into a plane while it drives. If it was impossible for the brain to affect genes, than the opposite would be impossible too. As for aging, once again, think outside the box. Aging and death of age result from the weakening of the tips of genetic material as they split during mitosis. Just find a way to strengthen the tips again and your golden.

    I would just like to state that I am not a scientist and do not intend to push any of this as an official theory. If I did I would run it through a more practical source than www.scienceforum.com. Despite this, I don't like the idea that there are "long time posters" that I need to respect or answer to any more than anyone else on here. If you're a professor or engineer I respect your status, but you still don't dictate what I can and can't casually share on this site.
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  10. #9  
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    Aging isn't that simple or we'd have already cured it by now. But I don't disagree that we might can cure it eventually.

    And, no. Impossible in one direction doesn't imply impossible in the other. Genes make proteins. Proteins affect all kinds of things including the workings of various hormonal regulatory systems that have a direct influence on how the brain works. The opposite is simply not true. The brain can do all kinds of amazing things to the body, but changing the genetic code isn't one of them. (If you want to see one thing it can do, look up the placebo paradox.)

    While I don't mind discussing such speculation, I'm not interested in throwing out all of science. The scientific method exists for a reason and all we know today exists because we've already considered all the other possibilities anyone's managed to come up with and then kept those that worked best. You really need to learn what has already been learned before you try to come up with something new or you're just going to end up coming up with something someone else has already thought of and found to be wrong. And since you didn't learn what was already learned, you're not likely to see why it's wrong either.

    As for the long time posters, I don't really mean to imply that you should respect them more than anyone else (you should show everyone at least a little respect, until they've earned less). Actually I was more warning you that such statements are likely to cause some friction here. I have no desire to dictate what you can or can't say, but I'd like to see more posters stick around a little longer rather than run in to unexpected resistance and leave in a huff. (It happens a lot.) After all, this is a science site and we take the scientific method seriously here. (There are actual rules about what you can and can't say here, but you haven't broken any of those. They're mostly about profanity, harassment and such.)
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Centurion View Post
    If it has noticeable results going as slow as it is, how can speeding up the process be too slow? It's not about running from a tiger. It's about looking around, seeing that there are tigers everywhere, and adapting to an environment filled with predators.
    A few problems with that.
    1) Evolution doesn't work by knowing what to do, it works by killing off the unsuited. That will ALWAYS take generations. If it's faster than that it's not evolution.
    2) What you describe above requires intelligence and the ability to make deterministic changes. For example, an organism has to say "gee, tigers, I need a blue exoskeleton made of kevlar" and then know which genes to change to make it. The problems with that line of thinking are too numerous to mention - including, again, that it has little to do with evolution.
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  12. #11  
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    Gosh I sound like an idiot but I mean to post this in the pseudoscience section -_- Actually I meant to post this and two other threads there. I was wondering why everyone was taking this so seriously... I'll ask an admin to move it
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Centurion View Post
    Gosh I sound like an idiot but I mean to post this in the pseudoscience section -_- Actually I meant to post this and two other threads there. I was wondering why everyone was taking this so seriously... I'll ask an admin to move it
    Don't be too quick to throw away your odd ideas.
    I view your idea as too slow of a mechanism for adaptive change, however if you use the idea of genetic manipulation for curing genetic diseases then the idea is more plausible, and a whole lot more controversial because it brings up the ideas of positive eugenics all over again..
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    No I'm really not trying to live anything down. I seriously meant to put it there. I'm not getting rid of the idea, it's just that my ideas are more about the theoretical applications than the technology or system. If we could accomplish (blank) than (blank) could be possible, which would have (blank) results. That's why it should have been posted. In either general discussion or pseudoscience.
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  15. #14  
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    There's also a sci-fi section (which I need to remember exists more often) if you wanted to talk about it more in the context of assuming it'd work first and then working out some details from that. (Pseudoscience is really more about trying to apply things to real life without the scientific method.)
    dan hunter likes this.
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  16. #15  
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    Magimaster has a point, and eugenics is an idea that has been explored enough in scifi to be valid there.
    Tomasso Campanella was playing with the idea at least as early as 1637 when his book Civitas Solis was published. (It was translated into english later as City of the Sun.)
    He presented the idea as selective breeding acording to horoscopes, but it was still a pretty advanced idea at the time.

    There are too many recent authors focussed on genetic engineering instead of selective breading for me to try listing them all, but Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Gordon R Dickson, and Frank Herbert would all be on such a list.

    Unfortunately you are also trying for the adaptability to be in one individual instead of down the generations which means it is not evolution either, so I have no idea where you are going with the idea.
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