Vernon Lovic (REH) (lovic at luna.cas.usf.edu) wrote:
: What I am completely at a loss for, and I believe everyone in the
: scientific community is at a loss for is describing how the cell uses
: this extremely complex sequence of nucleotides to build an organism as
: complex as a human being--or even a plant! I must assume that the cell
: is able to decode this sequence (which only recently have scientists
: themselves with some of the most sensitive instruments available to man
: been able to accomplish in only simple organisms so far) and to
: specialize each cell into that which is required. Please take note. I
: Each differentiated cell must move to the spot (in 3-dimensional space)
: where it will grow into the desired characteristic of the organism (i.e.
: cells and forms them into functioning organs? Organ systems? It's
: totally unbelievable that something so complex can be regulated by
: something so small (a cell) with such amazing attention to detail.
"The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants" by P. Prusinkiewicz & A. Lindenmayer
is filled with spectacular computer graphics of fern leaves, sunflowers,
inflorescences and tree branchings. The programs for generating these
images are actually quite short because recursion is used. Of course it
will take a while to map out the mechanism by which the molecules in the cell
co-operate to form a sort of microprocessor which reads the DNA program,
but the examples in the book make it believable that there is a discoverable
process. Remember that one-celled life had to evolve for a billion years
before it stumbled on a method of differentiating organs. Just as computer
programs have bugs, we may learn something about the process from Siamese
twins and other abnormalities. You should also look at the very simple
equation that generates the Mandelbrot Set.
But even if I understood the process, I admit that it would still seem
miraculous. Perhaps I have difficulty comprehending it because my brain
is only a clump of nerve cells, running an imperfect program.