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Lecture 12

HISTORY 2720 Lecture 12: Lesson 12 - Complexity of Life
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3 Pages
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Spring 2018

Department
History
Course Code
HISTORY 2720
Professor
Samuel White
Lecture
12

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The Complexity of Life
Hist 2720: Big History
Does evolution have a direction?
Variation
Heredity
Selection
Darwinian Evolution: Core Principles
Evolution proceeds from causes, not toward goals - driven from behind and not pulled
Evolution is directed by chance mutations and events - there is no plan
No Teleology
Adaptations emerge from random mutations - no design
Adaptations satisfy needs for survival, don’t optimize
No Design
Not constrained by ethics or morality
Benefits particular genes, not life as a whole
No Higher Purpose
Increase of extremes over time
1. Size of the largest organisms
Refinement of eyesight, other senses, nervous system
Human brain a new level of complexity, as measured by power density - the amount of
energy we need to produce to keep our brain going
2. Intelligence of smartest organisms
From one or a few to million upon millions of species
3. Increasing biodiversity
Among cells (prokaryotic cooperation)
Within cells (endosymbiosis)
Multi-celled organisms
Cooperation within species
Cooperation among species
4. Cooperation
So how does evolution appear to produce greater complexity?
More diverse parts
Arranged in more particular ways
Arising in more particular conditions
Using more energy
And showing new emergent properties
Or in terms of complex systems…
Life exists in the biosphere, like skin on balloon. Mile or two up/down.a.
How many species? Don't know - a LOT. Estimated up to 1,000,000 species. About
1,000 defined. Almost always you can catch new species.
b.
Biodiversity -I.
Big History Project: Life in All Its Forms
Evolution and the Spread of Complexity
Hist 2720: Big History
If evolution doesn’t have a goal, why does it appear to drive greater complexity?
Lesson 12
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 05:40 PM
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Description
Lesson 12 Tuesday, February 13, 2018 05:40 PM The Complexity of Life Hist 2720: Big History Does evolution have a direction? Darwinian Evolution: Core Principles Variation Heredity Selection No Teleology Evolution proceeds from causes, not toward goals driven from behind and not pulled Evolution is directed by chance mutations and events there is no plan No Design Adaptations emerge from random mutations no design Adaptations satisfy needs for survival, dont optimize No Higher Purpose Not constrained by ethics or morality Benefits particular genes, not life as a whole So how does evolution appear to produce greater complexity? 1. Size of the largest organisms Increase of extremes over time 2. Intelligence of smartest organisms Refinement of eyesight, other senses, nervous system Human brain a new level of complexity, as measured by power density the amount of energy we need to produce to keep our brain going 3. Increasing biodiversity From one or a few to million upon millions of species 4. Cooperation Among cells (prokaryotic cooperation) Within cells (endosymbiosis) Multicelled organisms Cooperation within species Cooperation among species Or in terms of complex systems More diverse parts Arranged in more particular ways Arising in more particular conditions Using more energy And showing new emergent properties Big History Project: Life in All Its Forms I. Biodiversity a. Life exists in the biosphere, like skin on balloon. Mile or two updown. b. How many species? Dont know a LOT. Estimated up to 1,000,000 species. About 1,000 defined. Almost always you can catch new species. Evolution and the Spread of Complexity Hist 2720: Big History If evolution doesnt have a goal, why does it appear to drive greater complexity?
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