Evolutionary Bioinformatics by Donald R. Forsdyke

By Donald R. Forsdyke

Now in its 3rd version and supplemented with extra on-line fabric, this publication goals to make the "new" information-based (rather than gene-based) bioinformatics intelligible either to the "bio" humans and the "info" humans. Books on bioinformatics have usually served gene-hunters, and biologists who desire to build kin bushes exhibiting tidy traces of descent. whereas dealing broadly with the fascinating subject matters of gene discovery and database-searching, such books have infrequently thought of genomes as info channels in which a number of kinds and degrees of data have undergone the generations. This “new bioinformatics” contrasts with the "old" gene-based bioinformatics that so preoccupies earlier texts. types of info that we're acquainted with (mental, textual) are with regards to varieties with which we're much less everyday (hereditary). The publication extends a line of evolutionary proposal that leads from the 19th century (Darwin, Butler, Romanes, Bateson), in the course of the 20th (Goldschmidt, White), and into the 21st (the ultimate works of the overdue Stephen Jay Gould). lengthy a space of controversy, diverging perspectives may perhaps now be reconciled.

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It is difficult to improve on the words of Leslie Dunn when Prologue: To Select is Not To Preserve xxxiii anticipating that some might consider his text A Short History of Genetics, to be lacking in philosophical penetration [19]: It is not that I, or another who may review the development of the science of heredity, may not be interested in what it [all] means, but rather that before we ask the ultimate question we should know what has caused it to be asked. ” But, as the reader will find in Part VII and Appendix E, the temptation to guess a little could not be resisted entirely.

By understanding the process of past discovery we prepare ourselves for understanding, and perhaps participating in, future discoveries. History is about people, ideas and technologies. Our sources on these are usually written sources. However, often ideas arrive before there are suitable words to convey them. So the examination of the history of ideas can become an examination of the words people coined and used, and of what they meant by those words in particular circumstances. This is no light task but, as I hope to show, is well worth the effort.

When preservation is not perfect, there is variation. Butler declared that “the ‘Origin of Variation,’ whatever it is, is the only true ‘Origin of Species’” [18]. He knew the mechanisms by which Nature’s expressions vary from generation to generation, no more than he knew the mechanisms by which mental expressions vary from day to day. Nor did he know the scope of variation [35]. Variation can only occur in that which already exists, and the nature of that which already exists, limits the scope of its variation.

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