Scientific Sense Podcast

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wild mouse

Recent research from Northwestern University shows that removal of a single gene from a biological entity can substantially affect behavior. In this specific study, the removal of a gene, TAAR4, from a mouse, rendered it incapable of smelling the urine of the predator cat and avoid them. The team from NU hypothesizes that the gene provides a level of senisitivity to smell in evolved systems, such as humans, helping them avoid rotten foods. Even complex systems, thus, are precariously balanced by the presence of few "apps" for survival.

Even human, a marvel of nature, may be vulnarebale to specialized systems without back-ups. Mice, with a smilar structure, show signifcant vulnerability to the alteration of a single gene in a similar gene pool. Natural designs, thus, have been risky experiments - assuming high confidence of performance in critical systems. The design of an aircraft in this fashion, will substantially increase the probability of failure in every flight. The question is why nature would partake in such risky designs. Clearly, redundancy is costly and if the evolutionary design is part of a game with winner takes all result, then it makes sense to enter risky designs to the competition. With no limits on entries to the evolution competition, it is dominant for nature to push a plethora of efficient but risky designs.

Contemporary bilogical systems, winners of past high stake games, may be ill-equipped to win again in changing regimes.

No comments:

Post a Comment